Brandeis students win prestigious fellowships and scholarships

Left: Current Fulbright ETA Mia Katan with her Grade 12 History majors in Vietnam; Right: Minnie Norgaisse in ShanghaiPhotos/courtesy

Left: Current Fulbright ETA Mia Katan with her Grade 12 History majors in Vietnam; Right: Minnie Norgaisse, a current Boren Scholar, in Shanghai

Each year, the office of Academic Fellowships helps about 200 Brandeis students and recent alumni pursue fellowship opportunities for research and other academic endeavors both on and off-campus.

In addition to helping students learn about how fellowships can supplement academic development and discover which opportunities are the best match for each student, Director Meredith Monaghan and Assistant Director Elizabeth Rotolo guide students through all phases of the application process, including reflecting on long-term personal and professional goals, developing an initial idea into a feasible proposal, strengthening connections with faculty mentors, crafting succinct and compelling essays, and preparing for interviews.

“Brandeis students are lucky in that there are so many resources available to help support academic research and exploration available to them,” Monaghan said. “Whether they hoped to spend a year immersed in an Arabic-speaking environment, research the characteristics and functions of brain activity when attention is divided between visual and auditory patterns, earn an MBA at University College Dublin, or teach English anywhere from Azerbaijan to Vietnam, recent Brandeisians have worked with the Academic Fellowships staff to identify sources of funding and to develop competitive applications. Whatever your area of interest, there is almost certainly a fellowship that can help you pursue it.”

While many students first connect with Academic Fellowships in the summer before their senior year, it’s never too early to get started thinking about where you hope to go and how you might get there. Students are encouraged to schedule an individual appointment with Meredith or Elizabeth as soon as they are ready to start exploring the possibilities.

Here is a look at some of the students who were awarded fellowships this year:

Andrew Baker '18 was selected as an English Teaching Assistant to Latvia through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. A Russian studies and International and Global Studies double major with a minor in Health: Science, Society, and Policy, Andrew was also a distance swimmer on the Brandeis varsity swim team and an undergraduate department representative for Russian Studies. Beyond Brandeis, Andrew has worked as a Russian translator at Booz Allen Hamilton and at Boston Children's Hospital, and he is an Ambassador for the Massachusetts Branch of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Andrew has chosen to decline the award and will enroll in law school in the fall.

Lauren Bernard MFA '18 (musicology) has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Serbia, where she hopes to gain further teaching experience and to learn more about Serbian language, culture, and music. She also hopes to explore the hip hop diaspora as it relates to Serbia and to investigate parallels between Serbian and American hip hop cultures. After her year teaching English in Serbia, Lauren plans to enroll in a doctoral program in sociology and to continue to research the interplay of music, culture, society, and politics.

Sharon Cai '18 has been awarded an English Teaching Assistantship to Taiwan through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. A Sociology and Health: Science, Society, and Policy double major, Sharon spent a semester studying public health in Copenhagen, was a head community advisor, was involved with the mid-year orientation program and the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance, and was an undergraduate department representative for Sociology. In addition to teaching in Taiwan, Sharon hopes to volunteer at a nonprofit health organization and to improve her Chinese language skills. She plans to pursue a career in healthcare policy and assisting marginalized populations.

Daniella Cohen '18 has been named an English Teaching Assistant to Spain through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Majoring in Politics and in Health: Science, Society and Politics, along with minors in Economics and Philosophy, Daniella also served as a Roosevelt Fellow, as an undergraduate department representative for the Politics Department, and as editor-in-chief of the Brandeis International Journal. In addition, Daniella has worked as a camp counselor for elementary to middle school aged children, as a debate coach, and as an English tutor to Spanish-speaking adults. While in Spain, Daniella hopes to supplement her English teaching with volunteering at a community health care clinic, building on her previous study of healthcare technology and policy. After her Fulbright year, Daniella plans to attend law school and pursue a career advocating for people with disabilities and working in the sphere of healthcare policy.

Sarah Mabry MA '18 (Global Studies) has also been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program English Teaching Assistantship to Spain. Sarah graduated from Monmouth College with a degree in International Studies and Spanish, and studied abroad at the University of Barcelona. Prior to enrolling at Brandeis, Sarah worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA member teaching English to non-native English speakers in Alaska, and as a substitute secondary school teacher in Illinois. While at Brandeis she worked as a graduate English tutor for the English Language Program. She hopes to pursue a career teaching English as a foreign language to immigrants and refugees.

Megan McClory '18 graduated with majors in History, Anthropology, and East Asian Studies and with a minor in English. She studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and, as a Gilman Scholar, at Osaka Gakuin University in Japan. Through the support of the Provost's Undergraduate Research Fund, Megan examined Japanese weapons laws since the Tokugawa era and their relationship to cultural views of violence, and recently completed a senior thesis on the relationship of violence to various aspects of Japanese culture. She has also conducted internships at The Battleship TEXAS State Historic Site in La Porte, TX and, through a World of Work Fellowship, at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago. After graduation she will conduct research in Alaska and then teach English in Japan through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program.

Anna Sherman '20, an International and Global Studies major with a minor in Business and Environmental Studies, has received a Boren Scholarship to China. She will first spend the summer participating in an intensive language program, and she will then attend CET Shanghai in the fall of 2019, which will include an internship and companion course titled “Bridging Theory and Practice.” Anna plans a career in the State Department as a policy advisor on China, with a specific interest in the negative impacts of climate change, especially as related to food waste, on U.S. national security.

Emily Sorkin Smith '18 has been awarded a Boren Scholarship to study Arabic at the Qasid Institute for Classical and Modern Standard Arabic in Jordan for the next academic year. Majoring in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, for which she was an undergraduate department representative, Emily also spent her junior year studying in Jordan. She has conducted research for the Western Jihadism Project at Brandeis, the Afghanistan Pakistan Project in New York City, and the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington. Emily is planning a career in intelligence and hopes to work in the Defense Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency.

Regina Tham '20 has been awarded a Critical Language Scholarship to study Mandarin Chinese in an intensive language program this summer. A pre-health student majoring in Health: Science, Society, and Policy, Regina works in the Griffith lab on campus and is a Teaching Assistant for General Chemistry Lab.

Lee Wilson '18, an Economics and International and Global Studies major with minors in History and French and Francophone Studies, has been awarded an English Teaching Assistantship through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Lee studied abroad at the University of St. Andrews, was a legal intern at the Brandeis Institute for International Judges in Copenhagen, and served as Co-President of the Waltham Group during his senior year. He plans to pursue a career in aiding communities abroad in post-conflict reconciliation and peacebuilding.

Additionally, the following students were named finalists for highly selective fellowships:

Jonathan Goldman '19 was named a finalist in the Truman Scholarship competition. Currently serving as the youngest-ever elected member of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee, he is also the Western Massachusetts Young Democrats Chair as well as the President and Co-Founder of The Right to Immigration Institute (TRII), the first organization aiming to use the talents and energy of undergraduate students to help attorneys and accredited representatives assist those who do not have access to legal representation in navigating the challenging immigration system. An initiative he undertook beginning in his sophomore year, TRII was awarded a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant from the Davis United World College Scholars Program. While balancing all this, Jonathan has also helped to coordinate various campaigns for diverse candidates seeking municipal, congressional, and gubernatorial positions, and has recently signed on as a consultant for Secretary of State candidate Josh Zakim. He is also leading a campaign for several towns and cities in Western Massachusetts to lower their municipal voting age to 16.

Zachary Kasdin '18 was named a finalist in the Rhodes Scholarship competition. Majoring in Politics and minoring in International and Global Studies, Zach spent his junior year studying at Hertford College at Oxford. In 2017, he won a grant from the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fund to conduct research on the emergence of Nigerian and Chinese national identities, and he is now a researcher for the Oxford Council on Good Governance. In addition, Zach was the co-editor-in-chief of the Brandeis International Journal, the co-founder and director of strategic planning of the Brandeis Society for International Affairs, and an undergraduate department representative for the Politics Department. In his time at Brandeis, he has also been involved with the Brandeis Democrats, the Waltham Group’s Afternoon Enrichment Program, and the Brandeis International Relations Council.

Daniel Shpilsky '18 was named a Finalist in the Schwarzman Scholarship competition. A Politics and Economics double major, Shpilsky spent his junior year at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 2017, he was selected as a Strategy and Operations Summer Scholar at Deloitte Consulting, and spent the previous summer as a Strategy Consulting Intern at Booz Allen Hamilton. At Brandeis, he served on the executive board of TAMID Group, a pro-bono consulting organization, he co-founded the Coalition Against Anti-Semitism in Europe, a student-run advocacy organization, and was a member of the Brandeis club squash team.

Along with the students highlighted above, 10 Brandeis students were named Schiff Fellows and will each partner with a faculty mentor to carry out an innovative research project over the coming academic year; 29 were awarded funding through the Provost's Undergraduate Research Fund to pursue independent research projects this summer; and ten sophomores were granted Giumette Academic Achievement Awards for their outstanding academic and extracurricular accomplishments. Aside from the honor of an award or the financial benefit of a research stipend, undergraduates who pursue fellowship opportunities gain a richer understanding of their own interests and abilities, as well as their values and long-term goals.


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