Mount St. Mary’s provided an update on the university’s three Fulbright semi-finalists in a press conference held in Phillips Library on March 28.
Recent graduate Samantha Solis and senior Alyse Spiehler have both been selected as finalists, or winners, of the 2017-18 Fulbright U.S. Student Awards, which provide each a grant for English Teaching Assistant (ETA) programs in Argentina and Mexico respectively.
The Mount is also proud of three sophomores who recently applied for the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission summer program. Sydney Johnson applied for a position at Queen’s University in Belfast. Michael Kenney and Elizabeth Boyle both applied for positions at the University of Bristol. Boyle was named a semi-finalist.
Senior Brigid Flay is expected to find out the status of her application around April 25. Should she win, she would be given the opportunity as an ETA in Kazakhstan.
All three students are carefully weighing their options to determine whether or not they will, or would, accept their awards.
Solis applied to the Fulbright out of her passion for Latin American literature and her to desire to learn more about its culture and identity. With its rich literary history, Argentina appealed to her as an environment where she could fulfill these desires, as well as expand her creative writing skills.
Solis has also been offered, and accepted, an opportunity to pursue a doctorate in English at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The Fulbright program would take place over the summer lasting last eight months, which would cause her to miss a few months at the start of her time at UCLA. She is waiting to hear back from the school to see if an arrangement can be made that would allow her to take advantage of both opportunities.
Spiehler applied for the Fulbright program in Mexico out of a desire to return to the country she lived for several years in her childhood, stating in her application that she wished to “return and serve the Mexican people.” She is currently weighing whether or not to pursue a Master’s in Philosophy.
Flay desires to pursue a career in international relations with focus on the former Soviet region, and the Fulbright program in Kazakhstan would help her better learn the Russian language. She too has been accepted into graduate school at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (California) where she would pursue a master’s in international trade and diplomacy.
Interim President Timothy Trainor, Interim Provost Jennie Hunter-Cevera and the Mount’s competitive fellowships director, Dr. Jamie Gianoutsos, also an assistant professor of history, each gave brief remarks congratulating the three women on their achievements in front of a small audience comprised of administrators, faculty, students and members of both campus and local media.
“We are incredibly proud of Samantha and Alyse’s accomplishments and know they will be great ambassadors for the Mount abroad,” Trainor said in his introductory remarks.
Reflecting on the students’ education at the Mount, Hunter-Cevera noted that she thought the “level of connectivity between faculty and student is like none other,” and that this has allowed the students “to dig deep and be more than they thought they could be; to basically stretch their comfort zones and reach for those horizons.”
“Brigid, Samantha and Alyse have all used the opportunities here at the Mount to their fullest potential,” she continued. “They have arrived here.”
Gianoutsos provided details on each students’ story behind her application and described how much of a “distinct pleasure” it was working with each of them.
“We faculty at the Mount are really used to giving our time and energy and service to our students because it really is our joy,” she conveyed. “It’s especially joyful working with students such as these, and our hope and desire is to continue to identify and support students like them: who dream big; who take what we talk about in the classroom and try to apply it to the world; who get excited about a subject and try to pursue it as far as they can, to get others excited about it.”
Photo Courtesy of Louis Lawrence