Five awarded U.S. Fulbright grants

Four Connecticut College students and one recent alumnus have been selected to receive Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants to conduct research and teach English abroad for an academic year.

Connecticut College has had 38 Fulbright winners in the last six years, and is consistently recognized as a top producer of Fulbright recipients.

“A Fulbright fellowship is the perfect complement to a Connecticut College education,” said Dean of the College Jefferson Singer. “Our students develop an appreciation for the complexity of cultural understanding and learn to examine global issues from a community perspective. Those skills will serve these five Fulbright winners well as they work to make contributions in their host communities.”

Fulbright fellows receive round-trip travel to their host countries, a living stipend, project allowances and medical insurance.

The 2017 Fulbright fellowship winners are:

Peter Burdge ’17, English Teaching Assistantship to Germany

Peter Burdge ’17

For Burdge, a history major and German minor, the Fulbright is the perfect opportunity to combine his interest in the German language with his love of teaching. 

“I have been taking German courses at Conn since my freshman year,” said Burdge, who plans to pursue a career teaching history at the middle or high school level. “I hope that I can perfect my speaking and writing skills during my time in Germany.”

There, Burdge will teach English to middle school students. He also hopes to lead a student-run English-language newspaper club and volunteer at local museums.

Burdge learned about the Fulbright fellowship during his first year at Connecticut College and said his professors and Associate Dean for Fellowships and Scholarships Deborah Dreher provided support at every step of the process.

“The entire German Department has encouraged me for all four years on campus,” he said, adding that German Professor Karolin Machtans and History Professor Marc Forster provided valuable advice and help inside and out of the classroom. “These support systems gave me the confidence to pursue the Fulbright, and I am so grateful for all of their help.”

Susanna Dolan ’17, English Teaching Assistantship to Taiwan

Susanna Dolan ’17

Dolan, an East Asian Studies major with a concentration in China, already has experience teaching language.

For the last three years, she has taught elementary Chinese to a class of 15 students at New London’s Regional Multicultural Magnet School. During her junior year, she studied in Shanghai, China, and volunteered teaching English to native speakers of Mandarin in Chinese schools. She enjoyed the experience so much that she decided to stay in Shanghai for the summer and complete a College-funded internship with Stepping Stones, a nonprofit organization that provides English instructors to schools.

“I learned so much about helping Mandarin-speaking English language learners through this experience,” she said.

Dolan, who grew up studying Chinese dance, playing the violin and speaking Mandarin, said she is excited to learn a new dialect of Chinese and explore Chinese folk dance and its musical tradition.

“Dance and music are forms of communication akin to language,” she said. “I want to participate in the local culture and get to know practitioners of those arts.”

On campus, Dolan is a member of the East Asian Studies Student Advisory Board, the Asian Students in Action club and the student group that produces the annual multicultural dance show, Eclipse. She is also a violinist in the Connecticut College Orchestra.

Following her Fulbright fellowship, Dolan plans to pursue a career in education, with a focus on teaching language, dance, music and culture to students in the United States or China.

Max Nichols ’14, Fulbright Research Award to Jordan

Max Nichols ’14

Nichols, who majored in international relations and minored in Arabic studies at Connecticut College, will conduct research on the technology used to aid refugees at the Refugees, Displaced Persons, and Forced Migration Studies Center at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan. He will also study Arabic at Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman, Jordan.

Nichols is particularly interested in the technology used by aid organizations to deliver services to refugees, as well as the technology that refugees use to advocate for themselves and request aid from organizations and government entities. He hopes to publish an article on his research and present at the annual Refugees Studies Conference hosted at Yarmouk University in May.

“Holistically, what pieces of technology are successful at organizing refugee service delivery? What kinds of features drive deep engagement? Where does human centered design fit into developmental studies theory? The Fulbright gives me the opportunity to explore these questions and many more,” he said.

Since graduating from Connecticut College, Nichols has been involved with several technology start-ups and social enterprises. With another Conn graduate, he built a website,, that helps people who have recently moved connect with their new community. He has also worked at MOVE Guides, which uses software solutions to help businesses move employees around the world, and at Hopsy, the first tech-enabled delivery service for local craft beer. In his free time, he helps resettle refugees in the Bay Area and volunteers at OpenOakland, a civic hacking organization.

Nichols credits Arabic Studies Professor Waed Athamneh with encouraging him to pursue the Fulbright.

“She has been my mentor and advocate since we met seven years ago. She has always pushed me intellectually to be a better person and student.”

Following his Fulbright fellowship, Nichols plans to pursue a graduate degree in developmental studies, migration and human-centered design.

Benji Osajie ’17, English Teaching Assistantship to Thailand

Benji Osajie ’17

When Osajie thinks about his upcoming Fulbright fellowship in Thailand, he thinks of the rainbow-colored elephant bracelet his brother gave him.

“My brother studied public health in Thailand and conducted research in health clinics. When he came back, he gave me the bracelet to remind me that Thai people are colorful, big-hearted and warm,” he said. “His stories made me eager to learn about Thailand’s cultural practices, the Buddhist religion and, perhaps most importantly, the country’s approach to education.”

Osajie, a psychology and sociology double major, is looking forward to serving as a cultural ambassador of the United States and teaching English in a primary or secondary school. At Conn, he is a mentor in the ALANA (African American, Latino/a, Asian American and Native American) Sisters and Brothers program and an active member of the LGBTQIA Center. He has also served as a floor governor and housefellow with the Office of Residential Education and Living, was a member of the men’s varsity squash team, and participated each year in the annual multicultural dance show, Eclipse, as a dancer and choreographer.

As a junior, Osajie studied abroad in Perugia, Italy, where he gained experience in the classroom teaching English at a high school.

Following his Fulbright fellowship, Osajie plans to pursue a graduate degree in education or law, and hopes to work at an afterschool squash program for youth in Boston or New York.

Rocio Tinoco ’17, English Teaching Assistantship to Spain

Rocio Tinoco ’17

When Tinoco missed out on a high school trip to Spain for financial reasons, she vowed that someday she would go.

Now, the Hispanic studies major, who is also on track to earn teacher certification in elementary and secondary education, is spending a whole year in La Rioja, Spain. She plans to take full advantage of the opportunity by sharpening her teaching skills, traveling and immersing herself into the Spanish culture. 

This semester, Tinoco is student teaching in a fourth-grade Spanish classroom at New London’s C.B. Jennings Dual Language and International Elementary Magnet school. After her Fulbright year, Tinoco hopes to return to teaching at Jennings, or a similar school.

“I’ve fallen in love with teaching and I don’t see myself doing anything else,” she said. “I would love to continue working at a school where the majority of the student body and staff are people of color, and where Spanish is valued as a language.”

In addition to the Fulbright fellowship, Connecticut College students have won several other major national grants and fellowships this spring, including a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, two Critical Language Scholarships, a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant and a Jeff Ubben Posse Fellows Program award.

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June 1, 2017