MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Middlebury hit double digits for the first time with the number of Fulbright fellowships awarded this year. Nine Middlebury seniors and three recent alumni will spend the next year researching and teaching abroad through the Fulbright program.
The U.S. State Department's Fulbright program is named for former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, who in 1945 introduced a bill in Congress to support student exchanges. The program provides funding for students, scholars, teachers, and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools in more than 140 countries worldwide.
Current Middlebury seniors who have received Fulbright fellowships for the coming year include:
Elena Cutting will spend next year on a Fulbright research grant at the National Center for Oncologic Investigation in Madrid, Spain. There she will research the role of BRCA mutations in prostate cancer and also shadow oncologists, in order to learn more about the Spanish healthcare system. With majors in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry and Spanish and Portuguese, Cutting completed a summer internship at a research lab at Mount Sinai Medical Center specializing in prostate cancer research. With other members of the Mount Sinai research lab, she recently published a clinical review paper in Therapeutic Advances in Urology on a novel chemotherapeutic agent and its ability to treat metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. On campus, Cutting has volunteered as a medical translator with the Open Door Clinic and is a studio monitor for the Ceramics club. She plans to attend medical school with the goal of becoming bilingually certified to practice medicine.
Samuel Finkelman will spend next year teaching English in Russia. Finkelman majored in International and Global Studies, specializing in Russian and East European Studies and decided to pursue a Fulbright, he says, after falling in love with Russian language and literature at Middlebury. Finkelman has been a member of the Men's Rugby Club and plays music with his band, Thank God for Mississippi. Following his Fulbright, he is considering graduate study in Russian, journalism, or law.
Madeline Gilbert will be teaching English next year in Brazil, where she plans to immerse herself in Brazilian culture and the Portuguese language and help her students develop English skills and cross-cultural understanding. A Spanish and Portuguese major, Gilbert studied abroad in Uruguay and has shared her language skills as an interpreter at the Open Door Clinic in Middlebury and as a volunteer teacher at the Monkton Central School. Following her Fulbright grant, Gilbert plans to pursue graduate study in Linguistics, focusing on linguistic phenomena related to Spanish, Portuguese, specifically in the area of phonetics and phonology.
With her Fulbright grant, Anna Mack will explore how disability is experienced in modern-day China. By conducting interviews with adults with disabilities and policy analysts, she will investigate the relationship between community and policy and how this may enrich an understanding of international disability policy. Her Fulbright research proposal developed out of her senior work on the relationship between international disability discourse and rights advocacy work in China, as well as from her engagement with the Center for Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity's Life Stories Project. Mack was the recipient of a Mellon research grant that enabled her to pursue research at a Chinese disability rights advocacy organization following her semester abroad in Kunming. In addition to her Fulbright selection, she was also awarded a Critical Language Scholarship by the U.S. State Department to further her study of Chinese this summer. Following her Fulbright grant, Mack plans to continue her focus on disability advocacy and U.S.-Sino relations.
During his Fulbright year, Alec MacMillen will serve as an English Teaching Assistant in Jordan. While in Jordan, he also plans to study the relationship between English language proficiency and economic outcomes. MacMillen majored in International Politics and Economics and studied Arabic in Lebanon and Egypt, with the support of a Boren fellowship. At Middlebury, he has been a member of the Academic Judicial Board, worked as a research intern at the Rohatyn Center, sang a capella, and served as a mentor to a young student through the Community Friends program. Following his Fulbright, MacMillen plans to remain connected to the Middle East and work in translation, diplomacy, or research.
Mary Righi will spend next year in Chennai, India, teaching English at a secondary school. Righi has previously taught English as a second language in three countries—Guatemala, Thailand and Costa Rica; experiences that inspired her to apply for the Fulbright. As an English and American Literatures major, she wrote a senior essay on the evolving relationship between food and maternity in fairy tales. She is also deeply interested in health issues, and plans to work with her local community in India on child nutrition programs. At Middlebury, Righi has written for the Campus and volunteered at the Charter House, a local shelter for homeless families. Following her Fulbright, she plans to pursue a career in community development and public health with an emphasis on maternal health, nutrition, and literacy.
Mary Robinson (not pictured) will be teaching English in Poland next year with the Fulbright program. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she plans to examine the acquisition of English language syntax by native Polish speakers. Robinson is an Independent Scholar at Middlebury, with a deep interest in language and linguistics. She has studied three languages at Middlebury—Russian, Spanish and Japanese; studied abroad in Russia and Uruguay; and is the co-founder of the Linguistics Club. She has also been an active volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Following her Fulbright year, Robinson plans to pursue graduate study in linguistics, focusing on the morphosyntax of Slavic languages.
Connor Wakayama received a Fulbright Grant to serve as an English Teaching Assistant in Russia next year. As an International and Global Studies-Russian and East European Studies major, Wakayama has a deep appreciation for the importance of language in cultural understanding. He received a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. State Department for summer study of Russian, and continued with the Middlebury School Abroad in Yaroslavl. He also sings bass and has performed with choirs on campus and in Yaroslavl. Following his Fulbright year, Wakayama plans to continue his focus on Russia and international policy by working with the U.S Department of State or a think tank.
Napol Wills is a German and American Studies major who will spend her Fulbright year as an English Teaching Assistant in Germany. Wills began her study of German at Middlebury and spent a semester studying in Mainz. She received a Mellon research grant to support research for her senior thesis about Black Germans in the post-war period and their U.S. connections. On campus, Wills has been active in the College Radio Theater, the German Club, and the German Theater Group. Theater has been particularly important to Wills, and she plans to incorporate the arts into her teaching. Following her Fulbright experience, she plans to pursue graduate study in African-American History or Library Science.
Three recent alumni have also earned Fulbright fellowships through Middlebury's fellowships office. Sophie Morse '11 will conduct anthropology research in Colombia. Jessie Williamson '12.5 will do ecology research in Ecuador. And Cara Myers '12.5 will conduct economic development research in Brazil.
By Stephen Diehl, Photography by Matthew Lennon '13.