Pitzer College Announces 13 Student Fulbright Recipients

Claremont, Calif. (April 27, 2022–updated 5/13/22)—Eleven Pitzer College seniors and two Class of 2021 graduates have been offered 2022–23 Fulbright US Student Program grants so far this year. Eight of the recipients will teach English in countries ranging from Mexico to Malawi. The other five recipients will conduct research around the globe. Their self-designed projects include examining the possibility of measles elimination through self-vaccination in remote boat communities in Cambodia and environmental stress on cells at the University of Warsaw in Poland. One recipient, Kenneth Butler, who earned credits toward his Pitzer degree as an incarcerated student in Inside-Out courses, will study rehabilitation and reintegration in the Ugandan prison system.

Pitzer has long been a leader in student Fulbrights. In 2020, The Chronicle of Higher Education cited Pitzer as one of only nine baccalaureate institutions that have been top producers of Fulbright US students every year for the past decade. The previous year, Pitzer was one of only 11 institutions in the country to be named a top producer for both the Fulbright US Student Program and the Fulbright US Scholar Program.

To date, Pitzer’s 2022–23 Fulbright US Student Program awardees are:

Kenneth Butler '22
Kenneth Butler ’22

Kenneth Butler ’22, an organizational studies major, has received a Fulbright to research the factors that facilitate social rehabilitation and reintegration at Luzira Prison in Uganda. Butler plans to study the lives of men released from this prison “to understand what impact the educational, sporting, and social networks that exist within the prison have on the lives of men once they are released.” As a member of the first cohort of incarcerated students from Pitzer’s Inside-Out Pathway-to-BA, Butler is uniquely suited to explore “convict criminology”—scholarship about criminology by formerly incarcerated people—and to investigate how the US can learn from the “system of co-governance” and humane conditions in Ugandan prisons. Upon his return to the US, Butler intends to attend graduate school and become a scholar-activist. Butler has been involved in the Inside-Out think tank, where he and other members first advocated for a pathway to a BA degree for incarcerated students. According to Butler, he became the first person in history to hold a seat on a student body government while incarcerated when he became a representative in Pitzer’s Student Senate in 2020. After being paroled in summer 2021, he has quickly integrated himself into the life of the College by taking on leadership roles as member of the Student Senate curriculum committee, Institute for Global/Local Action & Study fellow, and Justice Education Initiative. He also won a Napier Award for Creative Leadership in April to establish a peace and reconciliation program to bring together formerly incarcerated people whose lives have been impacted by gang culture.

Malaya Caligtan-Tran ’22

Malaya Caligtan-Tran ’22, a self-designed Indigenous public health major and environmental analysis minor, has received a Fulbright to study in the Philippines. They will be examining the impact of privatization and resource extraction on Igorot communities in the Cordillera with particular attention to the region of Lepanto. Caligtan-Tran’s project will “utilize oral history to gather the narratives of Igorots who have family relationships, participated, or resisted the Lepanto mines” to understand varying Indigenous relationships to land and how these mines have affected their health. Using their previous experience with podcasts, zines, and short stories, Caligtan-Tran will collaborate with the study participants to create a community-accessible media project in addition to their scholarly research paper. Through family trips to the Philippines and conversations with their Igorot grandfather, Caligtan-Tran has a personal connection to the country’s Igorot history and is interested in the relationship between the health of the land and its people. After completing the Fulbright fellowship, Caligtan-Tran plans to apply for a dual graduate degree in community health sciences and Asian American studies and to eventually pursue a PhD in community health, focusing on diasporic Igorot and Southeast Asian communities.text

Millie Chi '22
Milly Chi ’22

Milly Chi ’22, an Asian American studies and organizational studies major, has been awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Taiwan. As the child of native-born Taiwanese parents, Chi is passionate about returning to her roots and incorporating her radical, social justice-based Asian American studies education into understanding Taiwanese culture and people. Chi will use art and other creative mediums in her process, both in the classroom and in the community, to bridge cultural gaps, empower students as agents of change in their communities, and develop relationships. Chi is involved in Pitzer’s Asian Pacific American Coalition and has volunteered with housing justice organizations in Los Angeles. As a teacher, Chi wants to help “students to express their character and spirit in English, as they do in their native language,” while drawing from her own Taiwanese American journey and growing up speaking Mandarin and English.

Diego Flores '22
Diego Flores ’22

Diego Flores ’22, a political science major, has been awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Mexico. As a Spanish language tutor at Pitzer, he has sought to create spaces of mutual respect and understanding to meet students where they are to foster an excitement for learning. A first-generation student from East Los Angeles, Flores grew up in a Spanish-speaking household and has visited extended family in Mexico throughout his life. He says he learned how to be a sensitive and respectful student leader and educator through work as a member of the Claremont Student & Worker Alliance, a grassroots labor justice organization at The Claremont Colleges that organized a mutual aid project to distribute over $50,000 to over 160 campus workers in the wake of pandemic hardship. During the Fulbright fellowship, Flores also plans to explore community art and its intersection with justice movements.

Michaela Noelle Swezey Fogarty ’22
Michaela Noelle Swezey Fogarty ’22

Michaela Noelle Swezey Fogarty ’22, a psychology major and Spanish minor, has been awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Spain. Fogarty was drawn to Pitzer and the Fulbright Fellowship because they share her values in intercultural exchange and mutual understanding. Fogarty has taken Inside-Out courses, and through the Prisoners Assistance Program in Nepal, she has virtually tutored kids living in children’s homes while their mothers face incarceration. Fogarty served a summer with the Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing assisting families with housing applications and shelter placements. Other service includes leading bike trips for Overland and serving as a literacy aid for an elementary school enrichment program. At Pitzer, Fogarty has been a tour guide for the Office of Admission, a member of Student Senate, an Orientation Adventure leader, and a volunteer with ConductAbility, a conductive education program in Claremont. She has also pursued research on racial bias in policing with Assistant Professor of Psychology Steffanie Guillermo. Fogarty has studied Spanish since seventh grade and looks forward to gaining fluency while abroad. In Spain, she hopes to learn about the education system and how trilingualism is taught in Galician schools. Fogarty aspires to become a Spanish-fluent social worker and has a particular interest in the criminal justice system.

Ana Froom '22
Ana Froom ’22

Ana Froom ’22, a sociology major and art history minor, has been awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Taiwan. Born in China and adopted by a family in the US, Froom is a lifelong student of languages—Mandarin chiefly among them—and has a strong curiosity about new experiences and cultures. An extensive traveler, Froom has studied abroad in Denmark, Rwanda, and China and has also traveled to Canada, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Scotland, South Korea, and Hong Kong. Music has created many opportunities for Froom to engage with others and learn languages throughout her life. She was raised by music composers and professors and is a trained musician herself. As a teacher in Taiwan, Froom will incorporate song and dance into the classroom “by subtly connecting musical tones to linguistic tones through song.” Although Froom has not visited Taiwan in her previous travels, she has learned a lot about Taiwanese culture and life from working in a local artisan bakery owned by a Taiwanese immigrant. In the future, Froom is interested in working with children on the autism spectrum as an occupational therapist.

Kiera Havill ’21

Kiera Havill ’21, a combined sociology and critical global studies major, has been awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Malawi. In Malawi, Havill will draw on her undergraduate studies of effective teaching methods. During her time at Pitzer, she researched high school teachers’ strategies to engage students and evoke their “inspiragination”—a term she coined to describe how educators can inspire students’ imaginations. Her senior thesis, Critical Consciousness-Raising: High School Teachers’ Collective Strategies to Engage Students’ Inspiragination, sought to “better understand how high school teachers create environments within their classrooms in which students question what exists, reflect on their own identities relative to the world, and engage in ‘inspiragination’.” Havill also played on the Pomona-Pitzer Women’s Lacrosse team. Her own future aspirations include pursuing a doctorate in education and exploring filmmaking and directing.

Joshua Hui '22
Joshua Hui ’22

Joshua Hui ’22, a combined sociology and Asian American studies major, has been awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Taiwan. Hui has a wealth of pedagogy and teaching experience. He has helped seniors to develop their theses at the Writing Center and helped elementary school children learn English as a second language in Jumpstart. In addition, he’s worked with immigrants preparing for their US citizenship exams. Hui has also helped relaunch the Asian Pacific American Coalition Sponsor program at Pitzer to support first-year Asian students during their transition to college. After his own struggles learning Mandarin, Hui says he understands what it means to feel culturally inexperienced and what successful language teaching looks like—such as small group activities and engaged student participation. Hui looks forward to returning to the country of his father’s birth and engaging in the same process as his students, learning Mandarin and Taiwanese culture as they learn English and the cultures of English-speaking countries.

Taylor Lehner '22
Taylor Lehner ’22

Taylor Lehner ’22, a biology major and Spanish minor, has received a Fulbright to conduct research in the University of Warsaw in Poland to learn how environmental stress, such as climate change or toxins, affect the cell. Through her project “Analysis of Novel Isoforms of RNA Processing Proteins Targeted to Mitochondria,” Lehner will “determine the specific function of an RNA processing protein that could potentially play a major role in cellular stress response.” As a female first-generation STEM student, Lehner has a strong admiration for Poland as a leader for women in STEM and for Professor Joanna Kufel’s diverse group of scientists at the University of Warsaw. Having learned a lot about her heritage and family history from her Polish Jewish grandparents, Lehner looks forward to returning to Poland—80 years after her family left to escape the Holocaust—and strengthening her affinity to her heritage.

Alma McKown '22
Alma McKown ’22

Alma McKown ’22, a mathematics major, has received a Fulbright to conduct research in the University of Ouro Preto in Brazil to study ethnomathematics to make math accessible to a larger and more diverse population. According to McKown, ethnomathematics uses anthropology, cognitive theory, and history to investigate how different peoples use mathematics. The scholarly field of ethnomathematics was founded in Brazil, and today the University of Ouro Preto has one of the largest research communities in the field. By learning how to conduct ethnomathematics research and implement it in the classroom, McKown hopes to use what she learns abroad to better understand her homeplace in Southwest Colorado. She hopes to connect what she learns about ethnomathematics in Brazil to pre-historic mathematical practices in the American Southwest and to inform more engaging mathematics curricula in Native American communities. McKown worked in education before attending Pitzer and says that “we should learn mathematics in ways that bring us joy in the classroom and let us see mathematics as alive in our cultures and environments.” After the Fulbright Fellowship, McKown plans to further her studies with a master’s degree in archaeology.

Ben Sievers '22
Ben Sievers ’22

Benjamin Sievers ’22, a biology major, has received a Fulbright to conduct research in Cambodia about current approaches to measles elimination and attitudes toward self-vaccination for measles in remote boat communities in Phnom Penh’s Mekong Operational District. According to Sievers, despite an effective vaccine existing for almost 60 years, measles remains endemic in global hotspots, and 200,000 children under the age of five died from measles in 2019. Sievers developed his project, “Measles Elimination in Cambodia: Sociology, Epidemiology, & Self-vaccination,” with support from the director of the Human Nature Lab at Yale University and the virology unit at the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge. Measles eradication has been a part of Sievers’ family’s vision for three generations. His grandfather developed a dry powder, inhaled measles vaccination; now, working with his father and grandfather, Sievers has developed a dry powder measles vaccine that can be self-inhaled. Sievers has created a colorful whistle delivery device that he hopes will facilitate self-vaccination. Sievers has previously traveled to Thailand, Mexico, France, Burma, and Taiwan. He also won a Napier Award for Creative Leadership in April to pursue this research.

Justin Sleppy '21
Justin Sleppy ’21

Justin Sleppy ’21, an international and intercultural studies and sociology major, has been awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Botswana. During his time at Pitzer, Sleppy engaged in a semester of intensive study in four countries—Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe—on the cultural context of Southern Africa. He also studied abroad in Nepal just before the pandemic. Sleppy took a leave of absence to substitute teach in his hometown of Juneau, Alaska, to support students as a behavioral assistant and paraeducator. Sleppy also participated in the Global/Local Mentorship Program and became a representative for the Study Abroad and International Programs Committee at Pitzer, ultimately becoming the primary correspondent for the College’s study abroad program in Africa as a study abroad fellow. “In teaching English abroad, my hope is to provide a new way for students to articulate their joys, passions, strifes, and identities,” says Sleppy. After the Fulbright, Sleppy plans to pursue a master’s degree in teaching.

Kaila Teague '22
Kaila Teague ’22

Kaila Teague ’22 has been awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Italy. Teague is a self-designed major in foreign language education, which includes fluency in Italian and Spanish as well as language pedagogy. In addition to teaching English at a middle school in Parma, Italy, during her fall 2019 semester abroad, she previously served as a research assistant on virtual language acquisition in the summer of 2020. Outside of academics, Teague has served the community as a student leader in the Black Student Union and as president of Pitzer College Student Senate. She has also been a student representative on search committees for the College’s vice presidents and worked as a fellow in the Office of Admission and Office of Study Abroad and International Programs. Through extensive on-campus involvement, Teague has successfully represented student concerns and gained the trust of students and institutional leaders, according to Pitzer’s Fulbright interview committee. She brings multiple perspectives, experiences, and intersectionalities to the Fulbright Fellowship and, through the fellowship, intends to focus on relationship and community building and finalizing plans to become an international education professional.

Professor of Political Studies Nigel Boyle, Associate Director of Fellowships & Scholarships Sandy Hamilton, and Professor of Sociology Azamat Junisbai served as Pitzer’s Fulbright advising team for the 2021–22 Fulbright applicants. In addition to being advisers for the Fulbright Student Program, Professor Boyle and Professor Junisbai have themselves been awarded Fulbright US Scholar Program grants for US academics, administrators, and professionals. Boyle has received two Fulbrights, most recently in 2019, and Junisbai was awarded a Fulbright in 2018.

The Fulbright US Student Program is the largest exchange program in the US, offering research, study, and teaching opportunities in more than 140 countries to outstanding seniors and recent graduates. Each year, the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announces the top-producing institutions for the Fulbright Program, and the lists are published annually in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Original post updated May 13, 2022

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