A record six FCLC (Fordham College at Lincoln Center) students and two alumni have received Fulbright awards for 2009-2010. Regina Plunkett-Dowling, the Fulbright program advisor at Fordham, pointed out that this is additionally impressive given the fact that applications for the award were up 15 percent nationwide this year.
Matthew Desoi, FCLC ’09, won an English Teaching Assistantship to Germany; Jennifer Li, FCLC ’09, won an English Teaching Assistantship to Korea; Anne Lieberman, FCLC ’09, won a Fulbright Fellowship to Thailand in Women’s Studies; Veronica Mollere, FCLC ’09, won an English Teaching Assistantship to Thailand; Mark Nelson, FCLC ’09, won an English Teaching Assistantship to Vietnam; Allison Waid, FCLC ’09, won a Fulbright Fellowship to China in sociology; Madeline Felix, FCLC ’08, won an English Teaching Assistantship to Vietnam, and Jessica Mahlbacher, FCLC ’07, won an English Teaching Assistantship to Hong Kong.
Additionally, one Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) student received a Fulbright, as did three graduate students. Plunkett-Dowling said that 43 Fordham students applied this year for Fulbrights; 22 made the list of finalists. According to a Fordham press release, 7,000 students nationwide applied for the grant this year.
“The Fulbright will open up a new world for me,” said Lieberman. She said that she will be studying the role of women in Muay Thai, Thailand’s national sport.
“With my background in martial arts… and women’s studies, I instantly questioned why women’s participation in the national sport of Thailand was so controversial,” she said. “I will examine the relationship between the rise of women’s movements in Thailand and the emergence of women in Muay Thai, as well as the connection between popular culture and the commodification of the female body.”
“For me, this award embodies so much of what I believe in personally, and what I’ve tried to build on campus at Fordham,” said Lieberman.
Nelson said that his “overall career goal” is to eventually become a teacher, and he also cited the connection between the work he plans to do for his Fulbright and the work he’s done at Fordham. Nelson, who majored in history and psychology, will not only be teaching in Vietnam, but will also be completing a research project in the country. He said he thinks his project will fit with his majors “pretty perfectly.”
Nelson said he plans to gather oral histories from people in the community about their experiences during the Vietnam War.
“In talking with civilian populations who witnessed combat, I wouldn’t be surprised to see cases of post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said.
Waid said that she plans to eventually go to law school. For now, however, she said she’s focused on making the most of her Fulbright to China. According to Waid, this includes becoming fluent in Mandarin. Waid, who will be studying immigrant women, said, “I am preparing myself to be very open-minded over the next year and to let this experience transform myself and my future career plans.”
Mollere, a social work and visual arts double major, credits her Buddhist texts professor’s accounts of his“amazing experiences” in Thailand for sparking her interest in traveling to the country. “I’m excited about seeing the temples and studying Buddhism and meditation; I’m excited about eating spicy Thai food; I’m excited to shop at the night bazaar and participate in all the festivals year-round… and I’m excited to start relationships with new people and my students and to become a part of their community,” she said.
The students who received teaching assistantships said they expect to work as teaching assistants for around 20 hours a week.
Plunkett-Dowling said that the Fulbright grant is meant to cover the costs of round-trip airfare, book and research allowances, maintenance for the academic year based on living costs in the host country, supplemental health and accident insurance and, in some cases, language and “orientation” courses. Students will study, teach and/or conduct research in their host country for 10 to 12 months; most will start in September or October of 2009.
Plunkett-Dowling said, “Living and working in a different culture for a year will forever change the way [the students] regard their commitments as American citizens and as human beings. At a time when the U.S. urgently seeks to renew its international ties, Fulbright Fellows can help advance that mission.”