Boise State continues to cement its reputation as a national top producer of Fulbright Scholars: Four students have been awarded the prestigious scholarship for 2015-16, which will allow them to travel abroad for up to a year and teach and pursue research projects.
Christopher Bower, a senior who’s graduating May 9 with a double degree in social work and political science, has been awarded an English Teaching Assistant grant to Tajikistan, a mountainous landlocked country north of Afghanistan.
His decision to apply for a teaching grant in the country came about because “Tajikistan has a rich history beyond anything I can compare to in my own ancestral line, one that has brought it to a point where drug trafficking is the main issue it faces today,” he said. “Additionally, it is the most impoverished of the post-Soviet nations and, therefore, one with the greatest need.”
While learning about the area, Bower says he fell in love with the Persian culture and wants to use his social work background to help youth in the country impacted by the drug trade.
“My main drive and vision is to establish a youth community coalition that offers healthy and educational alternatives to lives caught up in the drug trade, violence, and/or abject poverty,” he explained. “In essence, a group of adolescents will be given the resources necessary to actualize their natural talents and become a sustainable whole, perpetuating a happier and healthier society overall.”
Kathryn Huebschmann graduated in 2013 with a double degree in visual art and English, with an emphasis in technical communication. She was awarded an English Teaching Assistant grant to Norway.
“Writing centers were ultimately what drew me to Norway,” Huebschmann said. “I loved that they were included in the Norwegian ETA responsibilities, and I was ecstatic that Norway is embracing them to the point that they’ve created a National Writing Center. By studying Norwegian approaches to tutoring, I hope to gain new ideas for better serving ELL [English language learner] students here in the U.S.”
Huebschmann will be in Norway for 10 months beginning in August. As a writing center consultant and tutor with the English Language Support Program at Boise State, she had experience working with writers at an individual level, and was drawn to the teaching assistant grant because it allows her to begin bridging the gap between tutoring and teaching in a classroom setting. Huebschmann will divide her time between working at a high school and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, where she’ll be working a tutor and teaching assistant.
In addition to teaching, Huebschmann hopes to continue working on a project she began at Boise State as a facilitator for the Writing Center’s Thursday English Afternoons (TEA Time).
“During TEA Time, consultants and ELL students came together to practice speaking skills through games and conversation,” she explained. “In Norway, I intend to incorporate both art and writing into these meetings by initiating a book arts project where participants will create books together, exploring how the language or medium used affects their content. I’m hoping the project will give NMBU’s international students, Norwegian students, and me space beyond the classroom to get to know each other and form a tighter community.”
Vanessa Rosenbaum, seen right, graduated in 2014 with a degree in English and was awarded an English Teaching Assistant grant to Turkey. She currently lives in New York City.
Adiya Jaffari is graduating May 9 with a degree in health sciences. She was awarded a public health research grant to India for her proposal, “Maternal Mortality Ratio in India: Midwifery Practices and Quality Accessible Healthcare.”
Over half of the births in India still take place outside of a hospital setting, with the help of midwives, for a variety of cultural and practical reasons. In addition, nearly one-fifth of the world’s maternal deaths happen in India.
“It is likely that there are not as many skilled practitioners as there are those in need,” Jaffari said in her grant proposal. “Therefore, I would like to explore the methods of practice and skill sets of midwives and how these impact maternal mortality ratio. I hope to understand where and why maternal deaths are taking place in India and if quality maternal healthcare can be accessed outside of a hospital, with a well-trained midwife.”
Jaffari’s ambitious goal is tempered with the knowledge that she may have to overcome a few obstacles to fulfill the spirit of her grant — rural midwives may be hard to locate and slow to trust the motives of a young outsider. In addition, “gathering quantitative maternal mortality data may also be difficult because the government may be the ones who have access… I may need to run through a few obstacles to attain the necessary data for analysis,” she said.
These challenges don’t dampen her enthusiasm. “My experience with Fulbright will allow me to immerse my self in some of the things that are dearest and nearest to my heart, combining my passions into one beautiful journey,” she said. After the experience, Jaffari intends to attend medical school and become a physician. Her ultimate goal is to have her own medical practice in an underserved region.
Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 360,000 participants with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Annually, more than 1,100 U.S. college and university faculty and administrators, professionals, artists, journalists, scientists, lawyers and independent scholars are awarded Fulbright grants to teach and/or conduct research in more than 125 countries throughout the world.
Fulbright scholarships are supported at Boise State by International Learning Opportunities (for faculty) and the Honors College (for students). Six students applied for a 2015-16 Fulbright scholarship through the university and four were awarded. It’s rare for Idaho institutions to have four fellowships awarded in one year. This year’s recipients all are graduates of Boise State’s Honors College and credit Emily Jones, Boise State’s national scholarship coordinator, for her hard work in helping them prepare highly competitive grant proposals.
“It is such an honor to have so many Fulbright scholars at Boise State and to let the nation know that yes, we do have a blue turf and an amazing football team, but there are amazing hearts and minds here and they are about to take the blue within their hearts around the globe, making positive change,” Jaffari said.
“This incredible gift that has been given so freely to me is one that I want, more than anything, to see be made more available as an attainable reality for other Boise State students,” Bower added.
In addition to the students, two Boise State professors were named Fulbright Scholars for 2015-16. Kerry Rice, for educational technology at Nicolas Copernicus University in Poland, and Jeffrey Wilhelm, for English at University of Saarlandes in Saarbruecken in Germany.
The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the United States Congress to the Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support.