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University of Minnesota announces 2012-13 Fulbright Scholars

Nineteen students affiliated with the U of M earn prestigious honor

July 18, 2012

This year, the University of Minnesota is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act and its ongoing land-grant mission of learning, discovery and engagement for the common good. Fittingly, a record 12 U of M Twin Cities alumni have been awarded 2012-13 bachelor level Fulbright Scholarships and will participate in the country’s largest exchange program. Additionally, one alumna received a Fulbright-affiliated teaching assistantship and six current U of M graduate students – including two university alumni – accepted graduate level Fulbright Scholarships.

Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 1,800 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

Bachelor level Fulbright Scholarships, including English Teaching Assistantships, academic research/study grants and journalism grants, were given to the following University of Minnesota alumni:

Sarah Anagnostou, a December 2011 alumna of the College of Liberal Arts with a bachelor of individualized studies (French, global studies and teaching English as a second language), has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to India. Anagnostou has taught English to Somali immigrant women at the Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis and has tutored French language learners at the U of M. She first became interested in Indian cultures through her study and practice of yoga. In addition to teaching English in a Maduri, India middle school next year, Anagnostou will conduct independent research on the healing traditions of yoga and Ayurvedic medicine. Her long-term goal is to establish a community center focused on less known healing techniques and cultural practices to promote health and wellness in her local community. Anagnosotu is from Minneapolis and graduated from the School of Environmental Studies.

Amy Conner, a 2012 alumna of the College of Liberal Arts and the University Honors Program, will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Croatia working with English students at the university level. Conner graduated magna cum laude and with high distinction this spring with majors in history, political science and Spanish studies. She served several political internships while at the U, including one as a political and economic relations intern at a Minnesota-based foreign diplomatic mission. Conner also gained experience teaching English to preschool children while studying abroad in Spain. A course on the history of the Balkans piqued her interest in Croatia and she is eager to learn the Croatian language during her Fulbright year. She would like to apply the knowledge she gains from her Fulbright experience to a career in foreign service. Conner graduated from Robbinsdale High School in her hometown of Plymouth, Minn.

Austin Johnson, a 2012 alumnus of the College of Biological Sciences and the University Honors Program, is one of two U of M Twin Cities students to be awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships to Germany. Johnson graduated summa cum laude and with distinction this spring with a bachelor of science in genetics, cell biology and development, along with a minor in German studies. He has also served as an undergraduate teaching assistant in biology courses and volunteers extensively in the community. Johnson intends to enter medical school after his Fulbright year and plans on volunteering in a German hospital or clinic to learn more about the world’s oldest universal health care system. His Fulbright teaching assignment will take him to the Berufsbildende Schule in Ingelheim. Johnson graduated from the Marshall School in his native Duluth, Minn.

Andrew Larkin, who earned his bachelor of arts in history with a minor in economics before graduating with distinction in December 2011 from the College of Liberal Arts, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the United Kingdom to pursue a master’s degree in history. One of two U of M Twin Cities students to receive a highly competitive 2012-13 Fulbright to the U.K., Larkin will study at the University of Sussex and plans to focus on British and French colonialism in Africa. He also plans to volunteer with a community organization in the U.K. that provides legal counsel to immigrants and refugees. Larkin is from Shoreview, Minn. and graduated from Mounds View High School in Arden Hills, Minn.

Michael McGarrah has been awarded a Fubright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain. McGarrah graduated from the College of Liberal Arts and the University Honors Program this spring summa cum laude and with distinction, earning a major in child psychology and minors in Spanish studies and history. He has extensive experience working with children and completed a policy internship at the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington D.C. last summer.  As a Fulbright recipient, McGarrah will assist in an English classroom at a school in Madrid and would like to volunteer with a community organization to learn about Spanish child welfare policy and programs. After returning to the United States he plans to enter a Ph.D. program in developmental psychology to prepare for a career as a clinician, researcher and child policy advocate. McGarrah is from Bethesda, Md., where he graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

Nicole Muenchow will spend 2013 as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at a teacher’s college in Brazil, where she will be part of an initiative to improve English instruction in advance of the country hosting both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Muenchow graduated from the College of Liberal Arts with high distinction in 2011, majoring in Spanish & Portuguese Studies and earning a certificate in teaching English as a second language. She would like to pursue a career teaching English to adult immigrants in the United States. Her extensive teaching background includes serving as an Americorps Vista literacy tutor, teaching English to elementary students in Berlin through the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation, assisting in English classes for adult immigrants at the International Education Center and mentoring youth at the Centro Latino Community Center. Muenchow is a graduate of Lakeville South High School in her hometown of Lakeville, Minn.

Lesa Nord is one of two U of M Twin Cities students to receive a highly competitive Fulbright Scholarship to the United Kingdom, where she will complete an interdisciplinary masters degree in humanitarianism and conflict response at the University of Manchester. Nord began her college education at North Hennepin Community College before receiving her bachelor of individualized studies with high distinction from the College of Liberal Arts in December 2010. A certified Emergency Medical Technician and an aspiring future physician, Nord has served as a volunteer interpreter and technician on medical mission trips in developing countries. She intends to use her training and experience at Manchester in a career as a physician working in international aid. Nord is from Rogers, Minn. and graduated from Rivers Christian Academy in Elk River, Minn.

Jonathan Rabb, who earned his degree in German studies and global studies before graduating summa cum laude and with distinction from the College of Liberal Arts in December 2010, has been awarded a Fulbright to Germany in the field of journalism. Since graduation, Rabb has worked as a television host and reporter for WUCW-23, the Twin Cities’ CW affiliate. His Fulbright project, to be carried out in Berlin, investigates the influence of Turkish immigration on German multiculturalism with a focus on the popularity of the Döner sandwich. Rabb plans to produce a journalistic documentary of his research. His long-term goals include earning a master’s in journalism and working in broadcast journalism with a focus on international issues. Rabb is from Minneapolis and graduated from Minneapolis South High School.

Jennifer Sanchez, who graduated magna cum laude from the College of Liberal Arts and the University Honors Program in spring 2009 with majors in global studies and political science and a minor in Spanish studies, is the recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Uruguay. Since leaving the U, Sanchez has worked as an Americorps High School Coach with Admission Possible, a nonprofit organization that assists underserved high school students to transition to college, and as an Education Assistant in the St Paul Public Schools. Sanchez’s Fulbright year, which starts in March 2013, will be split between the capital city of Montevideo and a provincial location. In the meantime, Sanchez will begin a master’s program in public policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs this fall. She intends to pursue a career in international education and education policy. Sanchez graduated from John A. Johnson High School in her native St. Paul.

Bethany Schowengerdt is one of only two Americans selected for Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships to Rwanda. Schowengerdt graduated from the College of Liberal Arts and the University Honors Program this spring summa cum laude and with high distinction, completing majors in both global studies and French studies. In Rwanda, she will assist in the teaching of college-level English and plans to volunteer with an organization dedicated to improving language and technology education. She would like to eventually pursue a master’s degree and a career in international educational development. Schowengerdt, a graduate of Martin Luther High School in Greendale, Wis., is a native of Waterford, Wis.

Elizabeth Troolin, a 2012 alumna of the College of Liberal Arts and the University Honors Program, graduated summa cum laude with high distinction after earning a triple major in political science, Spanish studies and global studies. This month, she began a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship at La Universidad de Cartagena in Colombia. Troolin has taught U.S. citizenship preparation classes at the Jane Addams School for Democracy and has engaged extensively in human rights work; this past year, she was an intern for immigrant and refugee programs at the Advocates for Human Rights. During her Fulbright year, Troolin wants to learn about human rights and legal issues for displaced populations in Colombia and volunteer with an organization that serves displaced youth. She has future plans to pursue graduate studies in international relations or political science. Troolin is from Duluth, Minn. and graduated from Hermantown (MN) High School.

Tanya Wacholz is one of two U of M Twin Cities students awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany during the coming year. A spring 2011 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts with majors in history and German studies, Wacholz plans to pursue a career as a high school teacher and to be active in the field of international education. One of her goals is to establish an exchange program between high school students in the United States and Germany that will make it possible for students in those countries to travel abroad regardless of personal circumstances. Wacholz is not only an experienced English teacher, but also an accomplished soccer player and coach; while teaching English in the German state of Brandenburg, she wants to start or coach a girl’s soccer team and incorporate lessons about American soccer culture. Wacholz is from Delano, Minn., where she graduated from Delano Senior High School.

Emilia Witthuhn is the recipient of a Fulbright-affiliated Austrian Government Teaching Assistantship. Witthun, a 2008 graduate of College of Liberal Arts with a major in German studies and a minor in history, is fascinated by languages and language acquisition. After graduating from the U, she studied abroad in Berlin and taught English through the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation. She has also volunteered as an English teacher with several community organizations in the Twin Cities. During her Fulbright year, Witthun looks forward to fine-tuning her German while helping Austrian high school students improve their English. She intends to pursue a career in library services for children and teens. A native of Roseville, Minn., Witthun graduated from Roseville Area High School.

Graduate level Fulbright Scholarships were given to the following University of Minnesota grad students:

Brandon Arthur Baumbach earned a master of public policy in 2011 and will spend his Fulbright year researching the Norwegian government's national immigration policy, with the Somali population being his specific case study. As a strong social welfare country, Norwegian policies that affect the Somali Diaspora in Norway will provide for a strong comparison with the immigration policies of the United States affecting the American Somali Diaspora. This research will comment on a best practices model concerning Somali immigration today. Baumbach graduated with a bachelor of arts in global studies from the University of Minnesota in 2010.

Jesse Wolf Izzo, a Ph.D. student in history, will spend the academic year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. He will research the role of the Latin Christian crusader states during the late 13th century in the context of the first Mamluk-Ilkhanid War. Izzo received a B.A. in history from Yale University in 2004 and a master in philosophy in medieval history from Cambridge University in 2005.

Melissa Kelley, a Ph.D. student in history, will travel to select German universities. Her Fulbright dissertation will present a critique of the recurrent "crisis in the university" between the late 19th and the late 20th centuries through an analysis of student life. She will particularly focus on the experiences of students from social groups that had historically limited or no access to higher education. Kelley graduated with a B.A. in history from Smith College in 2007.

Danielle Marie Kuntz, a Ph.D. student in musicology, will conduct archival research in Portugal. Specifically, she will analyze 18th-century sacred dramatic musical productions by the Portuguese royal court. Kuntz received a bachelor of science in music education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2007 and a master’s in musicology from the University of Minnesota in 2009.

Tracy LeAnne Rutler, a Ph.D. student in French, will visit several archives in France. Her dissertation analyzes legacy eighteenth century French literature. Rutler received a B.A. and a master’s in French from the University of Kansas.

Stephen Cho Suh, a Ph.D. student in sociology, will study the return migration of Korean Americans to South Korea. Through ethnography and qualitative interviews, he will investigate the causes of return migration, the ability of Korean Americans to adapt to South Korean society and the type of reception that they receive from locals. Suh graduated with a B.A. in ethnic studies and psychology from the University of California, San Diego in 2008.

Twin Cities Campus: