Six Rice University students awarded Fulbright grants
HOUSTON — (May 2, 2014) — Six current or former Rice University students have been awarded 2014 Fulbright grants to study, teach and/or conduct research in a foreign country.
Jemina Bouma, Joyce Chou, Kristian Edosomwan, Nathan Liu, Antonia “Toni” Sebastian and Albert Wei will receive support from the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. The Fulbright Program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and people of other countries. The primary source of funding is an annual appropriation made by Congress to the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
“Fulbright grant recipients are chosen because they have a strong academic background, leadership potential and a passion for increasing mutual understanding among nations and cultures,” said Madalina Akli, assistant director of fellowships and undergraduate research at Rice. “It’s quite an honor for Rice to have six students win this award in one year.”
Bouma, from Annapolis, Md., is a senior majoring in cognitive sciences. This summer she will study in Suzhou, China, with a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to improve her ability to speak Chinese after four semesters of study at Rice. Then she will go to a city in Mexico to do a Fulbright English teaching assistantship. “I plan on becoming a teacher in the future, so this year will be a great experience of leading in the classroom,” she said. In addition, Texas schools have large populations of Latino-descent students, especially Mexican, so I hope that after a year of full immersion, I will return with a much more authentic understanding of Mexican community and culture. I also am interested in how Mexicans perceive the importance of education, specifically regarding higher education, so I plan on working with education nonprofits as my side project.” After her Fulbright travels, she will work for Teach For America in 2015 and hopes to eventually open a dual-language school.
Chou, from Wilton, N.H., is a senior majoring in sociology with a minor in poverty, justice and human capabilities. With a Fulbright English teaching assistantship, she will work with an elementary or middle school in Taichung, Taiwan. “I look forward to serving as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. and gaining more long-term overseas experience,” she said. “Development, gender and migration all interest me greatly. From a personal standpoint, the Fulbright is a wonderful opportunity for me to connect with my heritage. My parents and much of my family are Taiwanese immigrants, and surprisingly, I have been lucky enough to be placed in my mother’s hometown of Taichung.” After her Fulbright experience, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in international development or a related field and then work for a major international entity or human rights nongovernmental organization.
Edosomwan, from Beaumont, Texas, is a senior majoring in sociology and Asian studies. She also has a Fulbright English teaching assistantship to work in Taiwan. “My goals are to gain fluency in Mandarin Chinese, learn about traditional Chinese culture and have fun teaching children about English language and American culture (especially of the South),” she said. Edosomwan is considering graduate or law school after her Fulbright experience.
Liu, from Austin, Texas, is a senior majoring in bioengineering. His Fulbright grant will allow him to do research at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom. “At Imperial, I will be developing nanoparticle-based clinical tests to predict how cancer patients will respond to first-line drugs before they begin therapy,” he said. “This will allow oncologists to selectively choose drug regimens personalized to work for individual patients, helping to prevent unnecessary side effects, improve quality of care and save health care dollars. Over the year, I will be dually affiliated with the Fulbright U.S. Program and the Whitaker Postgraduate Fellowship, and will also obtain a master’s degree in clinical research/translational medicine from Imperial.” He plans to enter medical school and continue collaborative research in experimental medicine.
Sebastian, from San Antonio, is a Rice graduate student in civil and environmental engineering, in which she also has a B.S. She will use her Fulbright grant to study at Technical University at Delft in the Netherlands with Bas Jonkman, a professor of hydraulic engineering. “My research questions are ‘What are the drivers of flood loss?’ and ‘How can we mitigate flood loss?’” she said. “I propose to examine the increased flood risk posed by climate and land-use change to densely populated areas in the province of South Holland. The methodology developed during this study will provide a mechanism for spatially quantifying the subsequent increase in risk, and the results will help to direct land-use policy and investments in structural and, alternatively, nonstructural flood defenses. Ultimately, I hope to influence the policy driving flood risk management in order to increase coastal resiliency.” After her Fulbright research, she plans to return to Rice to complete her Ph.D. research, which is funded by Rice’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters Center.
Wei, from West Covina, Calif., graduated from Rice in 2012 with a major in political science and a minor in sociology. His Fulbright English teaching assistantship will take him to Taiwan to learn about classroom practices in an Eastern-culture setting. “I particularly want to look at how teacher culture (morale, mindset, pipeline) works to the benefit (or detriment) of students,” Wei said. “I am also interested in seeing how policy interacts with education in Taiwan. Clearly this is not an inner-city school with American minority populations like my experiences in Teach for America, which is what is going to make this experience both so challenging and exciting.” He hopes to go to graduate school in the U.S. after his Fulbright experience.
For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit www.cies.org.
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