St. Olaf College | News

Thirteen Oles win Fulbright fellowships

This year’s Fulbright recipients include (top row, from left) Bridget Roche ’17, Benjamin Wollant ’19, Grace Lilly ’19, Anna Linden ’18, Kate Beaver ’19, (bottom row, from left) Jamie Truax ’19, Teiana Nakano ’19, Anya Fairchild ’19, and Shannon Moore ’19, as well as (pictured below) Maddie Baccam ’18, Rachel Beran ’19, Joseph Janik Miller ’19, and Chamee Vang ’19.

Thirteen recent St. Olaf College graduates have been named Fulbright fellows for 2019–20.

In addition to the 10 members of this year’s graduating class who received the Fulbright fellowship, three recent St. Olaf graduates who applied through the college received the prestigious award as well.

Three will use the fellowship to conduct research, and the other 10 will take on English teaching assistantships.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is sponsored by the Department of State and awards more than 1,500 grants to U.S. students every year. The program operates in more than 140 countries, seeking to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries” and “contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.” Program participants are chosen based on many factors, including leadership potential and academic merit.

“Oles are excellent candidates for Fulbright fellowships,” says Associate Professor of Education Heather Campbell, who serves as the co-director of external fellowships and scholarships. “With St. Olaf’s support of undergraduate research and the Education Department’s licensure programs and concentration in which students can earn a certificate to teach English abroad, Oles are uniquely prepared to conduct research or teach overseas.”

The St. Olaf Fulbright recipients and their projects:

Maddie Baccam ’18 will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Laos. As the child of two former refugees from Laos, she is passionate about engaging with a country that is important to her Tai Dam heritage, as well as proudly representing the United States. Her experiences in music education prepared her to serve as an ETA in a compassionate and creative way, and she plans on being involved with a community or student music ensemble. After the ETA, Baccam plans to explore careers in education or law. At St. Olaf, she obtained Bachelor of Music degrees in instrumental and vocal music education.

Maddie Baccam ’18

Kate Beaver ’19 will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bulgaria. Her curiosity for other cultures and love of studying Eastern European history led her to believe that Bulgaria would be the perfect place to engage with these interests while pursuing a passion for teaching. To engage with her community in Bulgaria, she will facilitate an after school discussion group that provides students with the materials and space to discuss prominent global topics. After completing her Fulbright fellowship, Beaver plans to attend graduate school, study international relations, and focus on the ways successful intercultural dialogue is established and maintained. At St. Olaf, she majored in history with a concentration in educational studies.

Rachel Beran ’19 will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Belgium. As a future English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, she hopes to bring an American perspective of education and an openness to incorporate underrepresented experiences in her classroom. In working with Belgian university students, she will expand her knowledge of the Francophone world. She also plans to join the Model UN team at the university where she is placed. After completing the Fulbright fellowship, Beran plans to pursue a master’s degree in ESL and then be a full-time ESL teacher in Minnesota. At St. Olaf, she majored in French and political science with concentrations in educational studies and Middle Eastern studies.

Rachel Beran ’19

Anya Fairchild ’19 will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in the Czech Republic. With her youth work experiences, K-12 teaching license, and unique theater perspective, she is well prepared to be a highly effective ETA. Her connections to Eastern Europe through her mother’s emigration from Poland made the Czech Republic an ideal place to broaden her perspectives and further improve her teaching skills. During her year as an ETA, she hopes to volunteer with regional community theaters and start an after school drama club to provide a platform for student voices through the creation of original pieces. At St. Olaf, Fairchild earned her K-12 theater license; she majored in theater with a concentration in educational studies.

Grace Lilly ‘19 will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Colombia. She loves teaching and engaging cross-culturally with diverse people, views, and learning styles. She has worked with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), taught college students through on-campus jobs, assisted in bilingual English/Spanish grade school classrooms, and hopes to employ activities and techniques to promote communicative competence and confidence in Colombian students. To engage with the Colombian community, Lilly aims to create accessible educational material on ASD for grade schools throughout the country to promote acceptance and understanding towards students with developmental disorders. Upon her return, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree for bilingual speech pathology. At St. Olaf, she majored in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience.

Anna Linden ’18 will spend her Fulbright year conducting research in Sweden. As the world prepares for an increase in demand for long-term elderly care, Sweden’s centralized system of home health care provides a sustainable and affordable solution. However, there is a gap in research on home health care workers. Partnering with an ongoing study at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, her Fulbright project seeks to identify the challenging factors of home care work for a holistic understanding of the profession. To engage in her community, she hopes to share aspects of her home culture through her knowledge of American dance traditions, particularly ballet and jazz. Upon her return, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in the field of Human-Centered Design and Engineering. At St. Olaf, Linden majored in psychology with a concentration in statistics.

Joseph Janik Miller ’19 will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Indonesia. He taught English to newcomers to the United States in North Minneapolis last summer, and he studied bahasa Indonesia and the anthropology of Southeast Asia while earning his undergraduate degree. Miller chose Indonesia due to its plurality of people and peoples, as well as the opportunity to develop connections to one community on the archipelago. He intends to create the civic space for community members to share their stories for the purpose of advancing Senator Fulbright’s goal of international understanding. Miller plans to model this exchange after the Sustained Dialogue and the Public Affairs Conversation programs he participated in at St. Olaf. Upon his return, he intends to pursue a vocation in government and public service. Miller majored in economics and political science and holds interests in citizenship, international affairs, and public participation.

Joseph Janik Miller ’19

Shannon Moore ’19 will spend her Fulbright year conducting research in Norway. At the University of Tromsø, she will investigate the efficiency of a red fox culling program that is designed to allow endangered arctic fox to thrive. The results will aid in implementing more efficient conservation strategies for the arctic fox. Moore hopes to host town hall meetings where she and her colleagues will discuss their research and establish two-way communication with locals to effectively implement potential future management strategies. After completing her Fulbright, she plans to earn a master’s degree in conservation biology emphasizing Arctic ecosystems, and then pursue a Ph.D. with the goal of developing, implementing, and continuously monitoring conservation and management strategies in Arctic ecosystems. At St. Olaf, Moore majored in biology with a concentration in environmental studies.

Teiana Nakano ’19 will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Taiwan. As a future elementary school teacher, being a Fulbright ETA in Taiwan will provide her valuable experience teaching young English language learners. Her coursework in teaching, combined with previous classroom experience, has prepared her to be a supportive and successful ETA in Taiwan. To engage with her community in Taiwan, she hopes to draw upon her love of music and create an acapella group for her students and other community members to partake in. After her Fulbright year, she plans to obtain an elementary teaching license and eventually pursue a master’s degree in multicultural education. At St. Olaf, Nakano majored in race and ethnic studies and religion with a concentration in educational studies.

Bridget Roche ’17 will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Colombia. She currently works as a licensed English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in a Spanish immersion school in St. Paul. While serving as an ETA, Roche plans to pull from her teaching experience with English learners and coursework involving Colombia and its history into her curriculum development, in addition to her fluency in Spanish and love for South American culture. She has taught English to Spanish speakers in Peru, Spain, and the U.S., and is excited to continue working in multilingual education at the university level. Roche will continue her research on Spanish-English Linguistic Transfer, and plans to bring her ice hockey skills to the Colombian roller derby scene. Upon returning to the United States, she plans to continue teaching Spanish-speaking English learners and earn her master’s degree as a dual-language immersion teacher. At St. Olaf, she earned her K-12 ESL license; she majored in Spanish with a concentration in educational studies and linguistics.  

Jamie Truax ’19 will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Luxembourg. Her enthusiasm, experience teaching English at a French summer immersion camp, and ability to speak two of the official languages of Luxembourg, French and German, made her an ideal ETA candidate. Truax is considering becoming a high school French or German teacher or working in the nonprofit sector. At St. Olaf, she majored in French and political science with a concentration in German studies.

Chamee Vang ’19 will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Thailand. She has had extensive coursework and experience teaching English to students from the primary level to the college level. She wants to gain a global perspective on education — and as the daughter of parents who fled Laos to live in the Thai refugee camps and arrived to the U.S. with little to no formal education, she would like to start in Thailand. As she grew up gardening with her mother, she is interested in starting a farming club to share gardening tips from the U.S. and to learn new techniques in Thailand. Upon her return to the U.S., she plans to teach full-time as an English as a Second Language teacher in Minnesota for a few years, then continue to teach English abroad. At St. Olaf, Chamee earned her K-12 ESL license and TEFL certificate; she majored in English with concentrations in educational studies, race and ethnics studies, and linguistics studies.

Chamee Vang ’19

Benjamin Wollant ’19 will spend his Fulbright year conducting research in Germany on proton therapy, a promising alternative to traditional X-ray radiation in cancer treatment. To optimize proton therapy, it is necessary to verify accurate delivery of treatment dose in the body. Ionoacoustics is a new technique for verifying accurate delivery of treatment and promises lower costs and greater accuracy than current methods. Wollant’s research focuses on developing an ionoacoustic apparatus and new experimental models that will help bring ionoacoustics closer to clinical viability. To engage with his host country, he will join the Munich International Orchestra (MiO). Upon returning to the United States, Wollant will enroll in a Ph.D. program in medical physics. At St. Olaf, he majored in mathematics and physics.