Purdue students receive Fulbright grants

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Photo Katherine Ceglio

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Six recent Purdue University graduates have been awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants and will spend the 2018-19 academic year in various parts of Asia or Europe to teach or conduct research.

Katherine Ceglio, Zoya Hsaio, Mitchell Jacobs, Shannon Kane, Chelsea Maupin and William Mbongo were selected for the renowned grants, which fully fund a post-baccalaureate year abroad for recent graduates and young professionals to forge ties in other countries. Ceglio, Hsaio, Jacobs, Kane and Maupin have been awarded English teaching assistantships while Mbongo has earned a research grant.

Ceglio, from Indianapolis, who majored in mathematics, will teach in Taiwan. She has volunteered with a number of organizations that advocate for the disabled, including the Special Olympics and as president of Best Buddies, a local student organization that partners volunteers with disabled peers.

I am committed to ensuring that those with disabilities have equitable opportunities for typical lifestyles. As such, I work as a direct support provider for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by providing support in the home,” Ceglio said. “My year teaching English in Taitung, Taiwan, will allow me to follow that interest in education that has always been residing in me.”

Photo Zoya Hsaio Download image

Hsaio, of Sunnyvale, California, who has earned her degree in management, will teach English in South Korea. She was vice president of the Student Concert Committee at Purdue and a small group leader for Cornerstone Christian Fellowship. For her senior honors thesis, she studied perceived racial discrimination against Asians on campus.

“Outside of my time spent teaching in school, I anticipate getting involved with the North Korean defector program. Through working consistently with defectors on a more personal basis, I aim to help lessen negative preconceptions of what it is like to be North Korean,” Hsaio said. “Through tutoring and mentoring North Korean defectors, I desire to help integrate North Koreans more comfortably into South Korean culture and through this process, learn more about North Korea.”

Photo Mitchell Jacobs Download image

Jacobs, a Minneapolis native, will be teaching English in Laos. He recently earned his master of fine arts in creative writing from Purdue. Jacobs received the Budd and Betty Knoll Award for Best Overall Entry at the Purdue Literary Awards in 2016 and also collected the Academy of American Poets prize at Dartmouth College in 2013. He has also served as the managing editor of the Sycamore Review, Purdue’s internationally acclaimed literary journal, and as a community workshop leader with the Looseleaf Writing Workshop Series at Purdue.

"As I prepare for a future teaching creative writing, I seek strategies for reaching the broadest range of writers, including those for whom English is not their most comfortable mode of expression,” Jacobs said. “A poetry class I teach may contain only nonnative speakers, or a single nonnative speaker who feels uncertain in a room of native-speaker peers. Frequently, these writers have innovative ways of utilizing language and valuable perspectives to add as well as stories lacking from the current literature. In encouraging Laotian students to express themselves in new ways, my goal is to become a responsive teacher to whatever type of learner comes my way."

Photo Shannon Kane Download image

Kane, from Lafayette, Indiana, who majored in marketing, will teach in Germany. As a freshman, she created the Krannert Minute Business Challenge, which presents community members of all ages with real-world business problems. She also volunteered at Lafayette Adult Resource Academy to teach English as a second language.

“Serving as an English teaching assistant in Germany can allow me to meld my experience in language instruction with my desire to be further immersed in the culture that I have studied for over nine years,” Kane said. “Though my studies are in the fields of marketing and international business, I have been motivated to find ways to incorporate German into my career.”

Photo Chelsea Maupin Download image

Maupin, of Kokomo, Indiana, who graduated with a degree in sustainable food and farm systems, is spending her year teaching in Vietnam. She was Purdue Student Farm Organization secretary and Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture student ambassador at Purdue.

 “I'll teach English in Phan Rang-thap Cham City, Vietnam, through the context of food and sustainability – from food production to culinary arts or marketing; whatever is interesting and most useful to the students as I help them prepare for important national exams,” Maupin said. “I've grown plants almost everywhere I've lived, and I'm excited to work with the school and put my horticulture and English skills to use.”

Photo William Mbongo Download image

Mbongo, from Bangui, Central African Republic, who majored in biochemistry, was a teaching assistant in cellular biology and organic chemistry, a deputy campaign manager during the 2016 West Lafayette City Council elections and an emergency room volunteer at Indiana University Health Arnett Hospital. He received a research grant from the American Heart Association in 2016. He will conduct research on the immunological functions of a newly discovered protein. His research will take him to Paris.

“This opportunity gives me the chance to get further training in biomedical research, with a special focus on oncology and immunology,” he said. “Furthermore, I will be able to establish lifetime connections with French-speaking scientists dedicated to treating disease on a global scale. Having this network of mentors and colleagues will be tremendously helpful in my future work after obtaining a medical degree.”

From its inception in 1945, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which citizens and governments of other countries work with the U.S. to foster international collaboration in the arts and sciences by awarding grants for students to conduct research in a host country or teach English abroad. This signature U.S. program was established following the end of World War II, and is funded by the U.S. State Department.

These Purdue students will join the distinguished ranks of innovators, artists and intellectuals who have participated in the Fulbright’s mission of cultural exchange. Notable Fulbright alumni include U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Olympic gold medalist Lee Evans, novelist Ursula K. Le Guin, and poet Sylvia Plath.

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