Emory students win Fulbright awards to research, study and teach abroad

By April Hunt | Emory Report | Aug. 31, 2016

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Ryan Sutherland, shown here on a study abroad trip to Indonesia, will work in a high school in Madrid, Spain, through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. He is one of 13 Emory students and recent graduates selected for the 2016 Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Photo courtesy of Sutherland.

Emory University will send 13 students and recent graduates across the globe in the coming year as part of the 2016 Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Named for the late Sen. J. William Fulbright, who sponsored legislation creating the prestigious awards, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government.

Designed to increase mutual understanding between the American people and the people of other countries, the program offers students the opportunity to conduct research, study and teach in more than 140 countries. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs funds the initiative.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

“We had a very strong group of Fulbright applicants this year, and one of the largest,” says Megan Friddle, director of Emory's National Scholarships and Fellowships Program, of the 43 Emory applicants for the honor. Of those applying, 14 were selected as semi-finalists and had their applications forwarded to the host country for review.

Emory’s finalists, who are among about 8,000 selected each year, fall into two programs: teaching and research.

Five of the finalists selected study in Emory’s graduate programs, including four from the Laney Graduate School and one from the School of Medicine.

All of the graduate students will conduct research as part of their Fulbright year, some of which will contribute to their dissertations, says Jay Hughes, assistant program director for fellowships at Laney.

“These new Fulbright recipients are engaged in research that spans the globe, as well as academic disciplines,” Hughes says. “More importantly, these scholars’ work highlights the importance of humanistic-based inquiry to understanding and engaging global challenges.”

Research interests span the globe

Under the Fulbright Study/Research grant, students design a proposal for research or coursework in a specific country. The program aims to facilitate cultural exchange and promote mutual understanding through that work abroad.

Emory’s 2016 finalists are:

Tenzin Bhuchung, who is in his fourth year of the PhD program in West and South Asian studies, will travel to Nepal to examine the relationship between philosophical knowledge and unmediated non-conceptual meditative experience in Buddhism through the Mahāmudrā works of Gampopa, a 12th century Tibetan scholar and mystic. A highly specialized Buddhist translator, Bhuchung has translated for Buddhist teachers from all of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions in both the United States and abroad. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Central University of Tibetan Studies in Varanasi, India, and earned a Master’s in Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.

Hamilton Parker Cook, who is in his third year of study in the Islamic civilizations’ studies PhD program, will travel to Bursa, Turkey, to examine the hand-written copy of a tri-lingual (Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Turkish) commentary on the Qur’an of the Ottoman Sufi Ismail Hakki Bursevi. Examining manuscripts in other Turkish libraries, he also plans to participate in conferences on Bursevi at the local Uludag Theological Institute and the mosque complex Bursevi endowed in Bursa. Upon returning from Turkey, Cook plans to write his dissertation and teach in the Atlanta area.

Anandi Salinas, who is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Division of Religion – West and South Asian Religions Department, will travel to the northern Indian city of Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, to conduct ethnographic fieldwork on the study of darshan in contemporary Vaishnava traditions for her dissertation. At Emory, she has been an instructional content developer at the Center for Digital Scholarship and an editorial assistant for the Visual Anthropology Review. She also has taught and assisted in a number of courses on the history of South Asian civilizations, introduction to Hindu traditions through theory, and others.

Andy Saxon, who is a fourth year medical student, will study how community-based health care centers in Istanbul, Turkey, have affected the medical care of refugees living in urban centers. An Atlanta native, Saxon had previously lived in Buenos Aires and has worked as a paralegal, a community organizer on the 2008 Obama presidential campaign, an administrator for KIPP Public Charter Schools in Washington, D.C., and as a policy analyst for the National Center of Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.

Camilla Schramek, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences and a dual major in mathematics and political science, will travel to Denmark to pursue graduate study in an interdisciplinary program on climate change at the University of Copenhagen. She was inspired to apply for the Fulbright after a semester-long study abroad program in Copenhagen where she also interned for the Climate and Sustainable Development Division of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP-DTU). She plans to use her Fulbright to conduct research and write a master’s thesis on macro-scale geographic, economic and political explanatory patterns, and their congruence with environmental collaboration

Emilia Truluck, who graduated in May with highest honors with a bachelor’s degree in women’s, gender and sexuality studies and Middle Eastern and South Asian studies, will travel to Jordan where she plans to study refugee women’s experiences of street harassment. A Woodruff Scholar with Arabic language skills, she served as a research assistant in Emory’s law school with Abdullahi An-Na’im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law, and an internship in the conflict resolution program at the Carter Center. She plans to enroll in the MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at Oxford University after her Fulbright year, in preparation for a career in international humanitarian aid.

Alexander Yiannopoulos, who is in his third year of the PhD program in West and South Asian religions, will return to Nepal to continue his research on the relationship between nondual reflexive awareness and tantric contemplative practice in the writings of Ratnākaraśānti. After earning his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and linguistics from Boston College, he returned to Nepal in his first time as a Fulbright researcher, studying the relationship between conceptuality and language in Buddhist philosophy. He later spent the next four years living in Kathmandu, earning his master’s degree in Buddhist studies and Himalayan languages from Kathmandu Vishwavidalaya.

Teaching English around the world

The second program, the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, places students in schools overseas to supplement local English language instruction and to provide a native speaker in the classroom.

Emory’s 2016 winners are:

Shamara Battle, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and human biology, will travel to South Korea to teach in an elementary school. Battle was part of the first cohort to declare a Korean minor and among just three to graduate this year. She received the Excellence in Language Award for Korean during her senior year and was an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor for three years at Emory. A member of the Dobbs Society, she will participate in Teach for America in Hawaii after her Fulbright year and then plans to attend medical school and become a pediatrician.

Charity Gates, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in international studies, will travel to Senegal to teach in either a university or secondary school. Her interest in Senegal was sparked during her semester abroad in Paris. Upon returning to the U.S., she plans to attend law school and pursue intellectual property law and arts advocacy.

Abigail Holst, who graduated this summer with high honors with a bachelor’s degree in Chinese language and literature and human health, will be placed in an elementary or junior high school in Taichung, Taiwan. A Dean’s Achievement Scholar and active member of the Emory Scholars Program, Holst has an extensive background in Chinese language, and as a tutor and teaching assistant at Emory. She has received multiple fellowships and an independent research grant from the Scholarly Inquiry and Research at Emory (SIRE) Program. She studied abroad at the National University of Singapore as a junior and was selected as a Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry (FCHI) Fellow during her senior year. Holst plans to pursue graduate study in public health, integrating traditional Chinese medicine with biomedicine and nutrition.

Liliana Lim Lam, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in economics and Chinese language and literature, will be placed in a university in Macau where she will serve as a teaching assistant and organize cross-cultural student activities. With extensive experience working with refugees, immigrants and international students as an ESL tutor, mentor and teaching assistant, Lam hopes to pursue a career promoting intercultural education.

Ryan Sutherland, who earned highest honors in music and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music and biology, will be placed in a high school in Madrid, Spain. He will work with students on a Global Classrooms (Model UN) project as well as providing support for conversational English and presenting on topics related to American culture and history. Upon his return, Sutherland plans to pursue graduate study related to his interest in conducting public health research in Spanish-speaking countries.

Uma Veerappan, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in economics and educational studies, will travel to South Korea to teach in an elementary or secondary school. A Dean’s Achievement Scholar and past president of the Student Alumni Board, she studied the Korean education system via educational studies sources. Veerappan had previously served as an intern, tutor and debate coach at secondary schools in India, and as a teaching assistant and tutor at Emory. She plans a consulting career.

Emory College students and recent undergraduate alumni who are interested in applying for future Fulbright awards can read up on the process here. Information about Fulbrights for Laney Graduate School students is listed here.