Fordham has set yet another record this year, as 10 students received Fulbright scholarships, compared to eight last year. With two students waitlisted, 2008 has the potential to be a blockbuster year for the University’s best and brightest.
John R. Kezel, Ph.D., director of the St. Edmund Campion Institute for Prestigious Fellowships, said 32 students applied to become Fulbright Scholars this year, compared to 24 last year. Kezel added that two of the most exciting non-Fulbright awards won by students are the Morris K. Udall Scholarship, which went to Fordham College at Rose Hill junior Devin Gladden, and the Henry Luce Scholarship, which was won by alumnus Jeremiah Schwarz, a history major with a minor in American studies and asumma cum laude graduate (FCRH ’03).
“This is the first year we’ve had a student named a Henry Luce Scholar, and we’ve been a nominating institution for more than 10 years,” he said. “They only give 12 a year, and most of these scholars come from the Ivy League, so it shows that we’re getting a share of national recognition.”
For Gladden, the Udall Prize, which is named after Arizona Congressman Morris K. Udall and is considered the highest honor an undergraduate can earn in the environmental field, is an opportunity to tap into a vast network of like-minded policy and science professionals when he attends the orientation in Tucson, Ariz., this summer.
It’s a direction he’s eminently prepared for, having spent this past semester studying the interplay of humans and nature in Tanzania. As an example of how the United States’ actions impact faraway lands, Gladden, an international political economy major, noted that he has watched women in Tanzania harvest seaweed from the beaches for use in products made by multinational corporations such as L’Oreal.
“I wanted to emphasize the need of the U.S. to understand its global role in environmental issues,” he said. “This emphasizes America’s role as an environmental leader.”
Another notable winner this year is senior Marsiyana Henricus, who won the Merage Foundation Fellowship for the American Dream. Henricus, a chemistry major with minors in biological sciences and philosophy, will be conducting biochemical research at Oxford University. She and her family moved to Manhattan from her native Sri Lanka in 1989.
Henricus said her goal ultimately is to complete her M.D./Ph.D. and help inner-city communities in the United States, a nation she credits for allowing her family to escape a decades-long civil war and for providing educational opportunities that normally would be out of reach. Because of its past as an English colony, Sri Lanka has long-standing ties to Oxford.
“I come from a small village called Moratuwa, and to have someone from such a small place graduate from a place like Oxford…the chances of that happening in Sri Lanka would be very low. You’d have to be a prime minister’s daughter,” she said. “So it’s a real dream come true.”
While Henricus is working in Europe, senior Brendan Coffey will be continuing the trend of students training their sights on Asia. After graduating with a dual degree in philosophy and English, Coffey will head to South Korea to teach English as a Fulbright Scholar.
“I’m the worst linguist in the world, and [Korea] is one place you can go without knowing any foreign language,” he said laughing. “At one point I thought it’d be great to go back to work at my high school in Philadelphia, but even people there said I should not give up such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Not all of Fordham’s academic all-stars will be heading for foreign shores, though. Senior Matt Moran, a political science and urban studies double major, will work for the City of New York as an Urban Fellow.
Moran will work within a city agency that will highlight his expertise, such as the Department of Economic Development, city planning or City Hall. With an eye toward tackling urban woes as varied as housing and transportation, Moran’s application included a plan for creating a system of express bus routes that run from the outer boroughs to Kennedy Airport. He modeled his New York proposal after a system in England that leads from London’s periphery to Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
The Urban Fellowship is “really to give people who are interested in public policy an opportunity to see what kinds of challenges are there,” he said.
Other Fordham students to win major awards include Joseph Clair, a graduate student in his final year, who received Fordham’s second Gates Cambridge Scholarship, and Fordham College at Rose Hill junior Danny Blessing, a science and physics major who won an FBI Honors internship.
Seniors Jhin Han, Emily Hibbets and Liz Pfifer won International Development Fellowships from Catholic Relief Services and will be working in Angola, Madagasgar and Burkina Faso, respectively.
Other Fulbright Scholars include seniors Jonathan Hogan, Kara Noran and Douglas Ballas, as well as graduate students Emily Murphy (GSE), Chris Beck (GSAS), Andres Romero (GSAS, IPED) andMarcia Harr (GSE). Alumni Andrew Puntel (FCRH ’04) and Mohsin Mohi-Ud-Din (FCRH ’07) also received Fulbrights through the University.
“We have developed wonderful collaborations with the deans, various departments and faculty friends,” Kezel said. “With such enthusiastic support, our students are now getting the national and international recognition that their worth deserves.”