Brandeisians awarded prestigious grants and fellowships

Logos for Truman, Fulbright, Schwartzman and Marshall scholarship programs.

Brandeisians will soon be heading to places like China, Colombia, Germany, and Spain to pursue their dreams thanks to winning prestigious scholarships and grants.

But in order to win, you have to apply.

“Each of the students who completed an application for a competitive fellowship opportunity this year spent many hours reflecting on their accomplishments and their long-term personal and professional aspirations, wrote multiple essay drafts, and met frequently with faculty and staff members,” said Meredith Monaghan, Director of Academic Fellowships at Brandeis.

The Academic Fellowships team, which includes Monaghan and Assistant Director Elizabeth Rotolo, can help those interested in pursuing fellowships find the best opportunities to supplement their academic experience. The best way to start that journey is to contact the fellowships team.

“Many students are surprised to learn that there are opportunities available as early as their first year,” Monaghan said. “There are domestic and international awards specifically targeted for many academic disciplines, certain career paths, language study, graduate school funding, and much more.”

Here's a look at some of the most well-known awards and the students and recent alumni who took the leap by applying for a nationally competitive fellowship:

Fulbright grants
The U.S. Student Fulbright Program is a prestigious educational exchange that aims to foster cultural understanding between the United States and other countries. Recipients are chosen for academic merit and leadership potential, and are given the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

The following students and alumni were awarded Fulbright grants:

Ayshia Coletrane ’17 was awarded an English Teaching Assistantship to Spain through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. At Brandeis, Ayshia worked as an ESL writing tutor and a biology lab technician before graduating cum laude with majors in HSSP and biology. As an ETA in Spain, Ayshia’s goal is to help students learn by engaging with their lessons through projects, workshops, and discussions. She also hopes to get involved with a local church and engage with its members and its ministry, and to volunteer with a public health organization. After completing her Fulbright year, Ayshia plans to enroll in a master’s in health administration graduate program and pursue certified medical practice executive certification.

Emilia Feldman ’19 has earned a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Colombia. At Brandeis, Emilia designed her own major in Conflict, Coexistence, and Identity Studies, which she combined with a major in sociology and a minor in legal studies. She studied abroad in South Africa and also taught English in Israel for a year prior to entering college. An executive board member for the Brandeis Latinx Student Organization, Brandeis Students Against Sexual Violence, and the Brandeis Immigration Education Initiative, Emilia is excited to bridge cultural barriers and encourage cultural exchange through the Fulbright program. She hopes to learn more about the modern Colombian feminist movement and to volunteer with an organization that supports women’s rights. In the future, Emilia plans to pursue a law degree and to continue her work as an immigrant rights advocate.

Angela Mendez ’18 was selected as an English Teaching Assistant to Spain through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Angela graduated in December 2018 with a major in Education Studies. Angela’s commitment to education is a continuous thread throughout her work at Dream in NYC and at the Lemberg Children Center, her coursework and experiences with the education program, and as a peer mentor for Brandeis’ Student Support Services Program. In Spain, Angela hopes to create an extracurricular baseball club to build community and create opportunities to develop leadership, teamwork, respect, and perseverance. After her year in Spain, Angela plans to pursue a PhD in education and to conduct research into improving school environments for all students, with a focus on English language learners.

Alona Weimer ’18 has been awarded an English Teaching Assistantship to Germany through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Alona graduated with honors in African and Afro-American Studies as well as minors in legal studies and Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation. A recipient of a Max Kade grant, a Brandeis Bridges fellowship, and a Maurice J. and Fay B. Karpf and Ari Hahn Peace Award, Alona will primarily be working with refugee and immigrant students as part of Fulbright's Germany Diversity Program.  Alona hopes to research identity formation in first generation immigrants to Germany, and constructions of new German nationalism post-genocide. After Fulbright Alona plans to pursue a career in community organizing and research race and identity formation in America.

Zoila Coc-Chang ’18 was selected to receive a Fulbright U.S. Student grant as an English Teaching Assistant to Thailand. Zoila graduated magna cum laude with majors in studio art and education studies as well as minors in education and art history. Zoila studied abroad in Italy and in South Africa as a Gilman Scholar, and recently completed Brandeis’ post-baccalaureate studio art program. Zoila has chosen to decline the award and plans to teach Visual Arts in the Boston Public Schools system and to pursue an MFA.

Three other Brandeisians were named as alternates for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program: Natalia Gonzalez ’19 (ETA, Argentina), Deborah-Virginia Kawalie-Fataki ’19 (ETA, South Korea), and Claudia Roldan ’18 (Research, Argentina).

Goldwater Scholarship
The Goldwater Scholarship was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students in their sophomore and junior year to pursue research careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is considered the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Even Dankowicz ’20 has been named the 21st Goldwater Scholar from Brandeis University. Majoring in biology, Even has worked in the Pierce Lab at Harvard University curating butterfly and moth specimens and building DNA-based butterfly phylogenies; managed data on iNaturalist (an initiative that connects citizen scientists and biologists to build a map of global biodiversity); and worked with Dr. Torsten Dikow at the Smithsonian to produce identification tools for pupae of the Diptera, or true flies. Even intends to pursue a doctorate in entomology.

Schwarzman Scholars Program
Schwarzman Scholars was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, which was founded in 1902 to promote international understanding and peace, and is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. The program supports up to 200 scholars annually from the U.S., China and around the world for a one-year master’s degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s most prestigious universities and a base for the country’s scientific and technological research. Scholars chosen for this highly selective program will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, traveling, and developing a better understanding of China.

Jennifer Almodovar Jimenez ’18 will pursue a one-year master's degree in global affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing during the 2019-2020 academic year. Jennifer began her career at Brandeis as a member of the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program, and went on to graduate cum laude with majors in International and Global Studies and politics with minors in philosophy and legal studies. She studied abroad twice, at the London School of Economics and through the Brandeis in the Hague program, where she studied International Criminal Law. On campus, Jennifer was the president of the Caribbean Culture Club, a 'Deis impacter, a senator in the Brandeis Student Union, and a research assistant at the Schuster Institute of Investigative Journalism; she also earned a Sorensen Fellowship, which enabled her to work as a communications and development intern at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. In addition, Jennifer served as a program intern at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, an immigration intern for Senator Elizabeth Warren, and a legislative intern for Massachusetts state senator Sonia Chang-Diaz.

Princeton in Latin America

Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) partners with non-governmental organizations and multilateral organizations and places highly qualified recent college graduates in year-long service fellowships with nonprofit, public service, humanitarian, and government organizations in Latin American and the Caribbean. Placements emphasize the power of first-hand work experience to shape young people's attitudes and mobilize them to effect positive social change. PiLA enhances the mission of its partners by building their capacity to constructively impact the communities they serve, addressing the social, economic, and political barriers to egalitarian community development.

Nina Rosenblatt ’19 has been awarded a Princeton in Latin America Fellowship for the upcoming academic year. Majoring in psychology and Hispanic studies, Nina studied abroad in Mexico and was a global ambassador for the IFSA-Butler Study Abroad Program. She works as an analytical writing and psychology tutor for English Language Programs at Brandeis, as a research assistant in the Psychopathology Cognition Environment Lab, and as the head kindergarten teacher at Temple Shalom in Newton. She has also served as an adult education intern with Watch CDC, an English teaching assistant at Waltham Family School, and as SPECTRUM coordinator at Brandeis. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in psychology en route to a career in which she can support immigrant students’ mental health, possibly as a bilingual school psychologist in a border region.

Marshall Scholarship

The Marshall Scholarship, widely considered one of the most prestigious scholarships for U.S. citizens, provides funds to recent graduates who wish to pursue graduate study in the United Kingdom. It was created by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1953 as a living gift to the United States in recognition of the generosity of Secretary of State George C. Marshall and the Marshall Plan in the wake of World War II, in order to strengthen the Special Relationship between the two countries for "the good of mankind in this turbulent world."

Helen Wong ’19 has been named a reserve/alternate candidate for the Marshall Scholarship. Majoring in classical studies and history along with a minor in legal studies, Helen has worked at the Brandeis MakerLab, the Brandeis Digital Humanities Lab, with the Harvard Open Access Project, and with the Brandeis Classical Artifact Research Collection. She is the recipient of a Schiff Fellowship, a Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fund grant, and an Outstanding Student Award from the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Society for Classical Studies. She is also the author of an article in the classical journal Eidolon, and has presented her work at the Archaeological Institute of America’s annual conference and at the Harvard National Collegiate Research Conference.

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