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Fulbright recipients (from left) Forest Jarvis, Joe Flaherty, and Rod Abhari are seniors. Two recent alumni, Molly O'Keefe ’12.5 and Sarah Pollnow ’14, also earned Fulbrights.

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Seven from Middlebury Receive Fulbright Awards

May 7, 2015

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Five Middlebury College seniors and two recent alumni have been selected as J. William Fulbright fellows for the 2015-16 year.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, and it is designed to increase mutual understanding between the United States and other countries. The program offers fellowships for U.S. graduating college seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to study, conduct research or serve as an English teaching assistant abroad for one academic year.

Two of Middlebury’s five recipients will be conducting research abroad, while the other five will be teaching English in Europe.

Rod Abhari ’15, from Bixby, Okla., is a sociology major interested in global health. For his Fulbright he will travel to Swaziland to investigate how narratives of empowerment at teen clubs are internalized, reproduced, and resisted by the youth who participate in the organizations. Swaziland teen clubs strive to reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS by offering empowerment workshops. Abhari hopes his research will contribute to linguistic and medical anthropology by illuminating the social meanings of empowerment, youth, and medicine.

Zeke Caceres ’15, an international and global studies major from New York City, will return to Morocco as an English teaching assistant. Caceres, who speaks four languages, believes that language acquisition opens up opportunities that would be closed off otherwise. Caceres is a Posse scholar who plans to pursue graduate studies in Middle East politics and eventually work as a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. State Department.

Joseph Flaherty ’15, a history and political science major from Appleton, Wis., will return to Turkey as an English teaching assistant after having studied abroad there as a Middlebury junior. Flaherty believes that having the ability to speak, read, and write in English will open up opportunities for Turkish people beyond the borders of their own country. The 2014-15 editor-in-chief of The Campus student newspaper, Flaherty also plans to work on a journalism project with Turkish university students.

Forest Jarvis ’15, from Traverse City, Mich., will research the effects of socioeconomic status, inequality, and exclusion on the vulnerability of people to natural disasters in the Philippines. The international politics and economics major will conduct the majority of his research on the island of Luzon, using the flooding and displacement caused by Typhoon Nanmadol in 2011 as a case study. Jarvis, who has traveled extensively in Latin America, Vietnam and Morocco, speaks four languages in addition to English.

Priscilla Odinmah ’15, of New York City, a double major in psychology and education studies, will travel to Brazil to work as an English teaching assistant. While studying abroad in Brazil, Odinmah noticed that there were many enthusiastic students of English, but that some teaching methods were more effective than others. She hopes that by returning to Brazil with her previous experience, she’ll be able to maximize the learning opportunities for her students. Odinmah, a Posse scholar, speaks four languages and hopes to pursue her master's in education, possibly in language instruction, when she returns from her Fulbright.

Molly O'Keefe '12.5

Molly O’Keefe ’12.5 was a theatre major at Middlebury who has been living in New York City and serving as a bilingual teaching apprentice with the People’s Theatre Project. Her Fulbright teaching assistantship will be in Bulgaria where she studied traditional music one summer during high school, and where she plans to use her skills as an actress and vocalist to create a positive classroom dynamic. She also plans to collaborate with Bulgarian theatre ensembles to study their techniques, and devise an original piece of theatre that can be performed for the public.

Sarah Pollnow ’14, from Seattle, Wash., will be an English teaching assistant in Germany to augment her academic interests in the history, language, and culture of the country. The history major who was salutatorian of her class at Middlebury believes that exposure to Germany’s pedagogical and historiographical traditions will broaden her perspective and further her development as a history teacher. Pollnow also plans to volunteer as a tutor or mentor to disadvantaged teens in Germany, and to follow-up her Fulbright year by teaching abroad for a second year in either France or Latin America.

 – With reporting and feature photo by Robert Keren.

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