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Toppel Career Center Executive Director Awarded Fulbright

Toppel Career Center Executive Director Awarded Fulbright

UM News

Christian Garcia

Christian Garcia

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 25, 2014)—Christian Garcia, the executive director of the Patricia and Harold Toppel Career Center, has received a Fulbright Scholar Program Award to participate in the US-Germany International Education Administrators Program. He will head to Germany in October for a two-week seminar designed to familiarize U.S. higher education administrators with Germany’s higher education system, society, and culture.

Garcia is among only 20 recipients of the Fulbright German study program, which is open to full-time college administrators who have significant involvement with international exchanges, alumni affairs, fundraising, or career services. He has plenty of experience with the latter. Joining the career center as associate director in 2001, he helped transform the center into one of the nation’s most innovative and dynamic, most recently spearheading its expansion and move to a new high-tech home on Ponce de Leon Boulevard.

He also serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that connects college career services and recruiting professionals interested in the employment of college graduates.

On his Fulbright, Garcia will spend the first week in Berlin, attending briefings and government meetings and visiting campuses and cultural events. During the second week, he’ll travel with a smaller group to other German cities.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the longtime chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who had a profound influence on America’s foreign policy. His vision for mutual understanding shaped the prestigious exchange program that bears his name.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, it operates in over 155 countries worldwide and awards approximately 8,000 grants annually, but just a few hundred to teachers and professionals. U.S. and foreign students and scholars receive the overwhelming majority.

Posted in Briefly Noted, Honors, News

Nine UM Students, Alumni to Impact the World as 2013-2014 Fulbright Scholars

Nine University of Miami students and alumni have been selected to receive Fulbright awards to study, teach, and conduct research in eight different countries for the 2013-2014 academic year, continuing UM’s upward trend in student Fulbright grant recipients.

Of the nine awardees, eight have accepted the grant: Gary Bonnewell, Natalie Cain, Wendy Castillo, Shersil Prentice, Megan Roy, Juan Pablo Ruiz, and Cheryl Walker are among the approximately 1,700 U.S. citizens who will travel overseas as part of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Marie Hanewinckel will spend this summer in Wales as a Fulbright Summer Institute participant.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Gary “David” Bonnewell (B.S. ’13, Applied Physics and German) has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) grant to instruct students in Germany in English language and U.S. culture. Bonnewell has several years of experience as a tutor, mentor, and camp counselor and has developed a strong love of the German language and culture as a German Studies major at UM. He is considering a career as an educator after his Fulbright teaching experience.

Natalie Cain (B.A. ’13, International Studies) has been awarded a Fulbright Study Grant to research the occurrence of the Triatomine insect, which causes Chagas disease, as it correlates to seasonal changes in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Founder and president of the UM Chapter of United Against Infectious Diseases, Cain has participated in health-related volunteering and study programs throughout Latin America and is fluent in Spanish. She plans to enroll in a dual degree M.D./M.P.H. program upon returning to the U.S.

Wendy Castillo (M.S.Ed. ’13, Education and Social Change) plans to use the skills she has gained as a Teach for America corps member to teach English language and U.S. culture to Mexican students on a Fulbright ETA grant. She will enrich her classroom in Mexico by sharing dance moves from her hip-hop dancing background and incorporating dance into her pedagogy. Castillo plans to enroll in a doctoral program in education policy after the Fulbright grant year.

Marie Hanewinckel (B.A. Candidate 2015, International Studies and Political Science) will travel to the United Kingdom to participate in the 2013 Fulbright Summer Institute in Wales. Foote Fellow and head delegate of the UM Model United Nations Team, Hanewinckel is the first UM recipient of this unique undergraduate US-UK Fulbright award, which provides a six-week cultural and academic program held at three internationally renowned Welsh universities—Cardiff University, Bangor University, and Aberystwyth University—and focuses on the theme of “Contemporary Wales: Industry, Politics, Culture and Change.”

Shersil Prentice (B.A. ’13, Political Science) will teach English language and lead other school-related activities on a Fulbright ETA grant in Malaysia. A 2011 Benjamin A. Gilman Scholar, she has served as a tutor for all types of students—from kindergartners to undergraduates—and holds minors in education and business administration. Upon returning to the U.S., Prentice plans to teach at the elementary or secondary level for a few years before pursuing a Ph.D. in Education Policy with a Master of Public Policy.

Megan Roy (B.M.  ’13, Music Education) will teach English language and U.S. Culture to university students on a Fulbright ETA grant in Poland. A member of the Iron Arrow Society and an accomplished trombonist and jazz vocalist in her own right, Roy plans to incorporate in the classroom her love for jazz and helping others express themselves. After her Fulbright year, Roy will attend William Paterson University to pursue a Master’s of Music in Jazz Studies and Performance.

Juan Pablo Ruiz (B.S. ’13, Biomedical Engineering and English) has been awarded a Fulbright Study Grant to conduct research at the Tsetse and Trypanosome Research Institute in Tanzania on species diversity of trypanosomes in wildlife populations in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and their role in African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). A 2012 Goldwater Scholar, Ruiz has published journal articles related to his research on stem cells. He spent a summer in Tanzania repairing medical equipment at a government hospital as part of the Engineering World Health program. Upon returning from Tanzania, he will study biomedical sciences at Oxford University with the support of a Gilliam Fellowship and NIH/Oxford-Cambridge Scholarship.

Cheryl Walker (B.A. ’12, Music) has been awarded a Fulbright ETA grant to teach English language and U.S. culture to students in Germany. She will draw on her love of teaching and German culture to create a meaningful educational experience for her students, as well as conduct research for a family biography she plans to write. Her professional goal is to teach literature of modern German authors in U.S. high schools.

Monika Freiser, a third-year medical student in the Honors Program in Medicine, has been selected as an alternate for a Fulbright grant to Sweden.

The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide. Many Fulbright alumni go on to earn the top honors in their fields, including the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize.

The UM campus deadline for 2014-2015 U.S. student Fulbright applicants is August 12.  Click here for details.


Posted in Features, News

2012-2013 UM Fulbright Scholars Announced

Seven UM students have been awarded 2012-2013 Fulbright scholarships to study, teach, and conduct research abroad. The recipients are among the approximately 1,700 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2012-2013 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and represent the largest class to date of outbound UM Student Fulbright Scholars.

Jethro Cessant ’12 (English Teaching Assistant Grant, South Korea) intends to use his experience as an ESL teacher and former ESL student to impart knowledge of the English language to his students in a way that will build up their confidence. A double major in International Finance and Marketing (School of Business Administration) and Psychology (College of Arts and Sciences), he also hopes to intern at a local business firm as a way to further exchange knowledge about U.S. and Korean culture.

Leah Danville ’12 (English Teaching Assistant Grant, Malaysia) plans to emphasize experiential learning to bring a diverse and comprehensive understanding of English language to the Malaysian classroom. As an African-American female, she hopes to provide students with a different perspective of American English and culture. Leah, who graduated from UM’s School of Communication, also looks forward to contributing to the preservation of Malaysia’s social and natural wealth through community service.

Justin Pressman ’12 (Study Grant, Russia), a graduate of the Frost School of Music, will study orchestral conducting at the Rimsky-Korsakov St. Petersburg Conservatory under the tutelage of maestro Leonid Korchmar. He also plans to intern at the Mariinsky Theater in order to further his understanding of the musical and administrative aspects needed to be a successful conductor.

Stephanie Ruiz ’12 (English Teaching Assistant Grant, Turkey) was previously exposed to Turkish culture and language as an exchange student at Koc University in Istanbul, which will help her foster a positive dialogue with her students. Outside the classroom Ruiz, a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, will engage in community service programs, such as minority education initiatives.

Jill Ulrich ’11 (Study Grant, Germany) will conduct anti-malarial drug research at the University of Heidelberg’s state-of-the-art parasitology lab under the guidance of Michel Lanzer. Her research will point to new policies for malaria treatment programs by furthering the understanding of Plasmodium’s drug resistance mechanisms. A graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, Ulrich intends to involve herself with the German Society of Parasitology “Young Parasitologists” Program and entertain her love of salsa dancing at the small Salsa Academy in Heidelberg.

Carolyn Zimmerman, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences (Study Grant, Italy) will examine the military defeat of Siena in 1555 and examine how an elite civic and academic culture responded to the forced shift in their moral, social, religious, and gendered values resulting from their newly dependent status.

Jessica Zucker ’12 (English Teaching Assistant Grant, South Korea) plans to use her role as an ETA to encourage her students to pursue their dreams. Drawing on her leadership experience at UM, where she was a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, Zucker hopes to institute Women’s Lacrosse and Model UN teams at her Korean school to help her students develop confidence outside the classroom.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists in more than 150 countries the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

The UM campus deadline for 2013-2014 U.S. Student Fulbright applicants is August 13, 2012.  Click here for details.

Posted in News

UM Fulbright Scholars Set to Embark on Research Adventures Around the World

UM Fulbright Scholars Set to Embark on Research Adventures Around the World

Fulbright scholars, from left, Liz Rebecca Alarcon, Chirag Gheewala, and Rachel Libby will soon embark on research endeavors in Costa Rica, Spain, and the Dominican Republic, respectively. Photo courtesy Meg Pukel

The University of Miami had ten students from all degree levels and five different schools recommended to the 2011-12 Fulbright Program by a national selection committee. Of those ten, six were selected as grantees and one as an alternate.

“That’s definitely the most Fulbrights granted to UM students ever in one year,” says Kefryn Block Reese, director of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships.

Five of the six grantees have accepted the awards and will participate in what is the largest U.S. international exchange program that offers opportunities for students, scholars, and professionals to study, conduct research, and teach at schools around the world. It was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright. Continue Reading

Posted in Features

Students Earn Distinguished National Awards and Fellowships

Students Earn Distinguished National Awards and Fellowships

By Melissa Peerless
Special to UM News


Nicolas Rongione, who conducted aerospace engineering research in Germany, participates in the Q&A portion of the Prestigious Awards and Fellowships Reception and Recognition Ceremony.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 16, 2015) — “Finding the right fellowship is like finding true love. You don’t have to be perfect, just perfect for each other.”

Kefryn Reese, director of the Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships, shared these amusing but accurate words last week with more than 150 students, faculty, and alumni at UM’s annual Prestigious Awards and Fellowships Reception and Recognition Ceremony.

William Scott Green, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, encouraged students to find their strengths and passions, and take advantage of opportunities to enhance their educational experiences.

“It is fine to be modest, but there is nothing wrong with pursuing academic excellence,” he said, adding that participating “enhances the quality of UM, enhances the quality of your life, and enhances the quality of other people’s lives.”

More than 30 UM students have received or been nominated for nationally competitive scholarships so far this year, proving the truth in Green’s statement.

College of Arts & Sciences junior Eric Keen has been named a 2015 Goldwater Scholar, one of only 260 recipients nationwide.

The Goldwater program aims to provide a steady source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding tuition and fees scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in STEM fields.

Keen focuses on viruses that attack bacteria, and how these organisms—called phages—affect bacterial DNA. For his experiment, Keen collected phages at 30 locations around campus, and introduced them to drug-resistant E. coli bacteria.

His goal is to see if the phages destroy structures within the E. coli DNA called plasmids, which cause the bacteria to resist antibiotics.

“People have known about plasmids since the 1950s, but this is the first time that anyone is examining which phages affect them and how,” Keen said, adding that his work has environmental and medical applications.

Jim Klaus, associate professor of geological science in the College of Arts and Sciences, said, “Eric has demonstrated a true commitment to pursuing a research career in microbial ecology. The motivation that drives this commitment is his genuine fascination with the natural microbial world, and the desire to use microbes to make the world a safe, cleaner, and healthier place.”

Other UM students have received Fulbright scholarships to travel to Argentina, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, and Spain; National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships to support research projects; and a National Institutes of Health Oxford Cambridge Fellowship to pursue a doctoral degree in biomedical research.

Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering Helena Solo-Gabriele received the Award for Distinguished Faculty Service.

Passion and persistence were common themes among the six distinguished alumni and students who discussed how their fellowship experiences shaped their lives and careers.

Natalie Cain spent a year in Ecuador through the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange. Now a first-year M.D./M.P.H. student at UM’s Miller School of Medicine, Cain studied the insect-borne Chagas disease in Ecuador’s coastal region. She encouraged students to “latch on to a mentor,” and recognized Senior Lecturer of International Studies Sherri Porcelain, who continues to guide her today.

Dina Dajani, a 2013 Goldwater Scholarship recipient, discovered her passion for research early in her college career. “I jumped right in in my first year,” she said. Dajani is now a doctoral student in the College of Arts and Sciences’ behavioral neuroscience program, where she is doing research on autism.

Xinning Shirley Liu studied in China through the Boren and Fulbright programs. Liu, who was born in a small village in China and moved to Miami at age nine, picked a personal topic for her Fulbright application. “I was deeply concerned about the impacts of China’s transition from an agrarian to an industrial society,” she said, adding, “Be really persistent, even if it is a very obscure topic.”

Nicolas Rongione, an actor-turned-scholar who conducted aerospace engineering research in Germany, called living and learning abroad “a challenge mentally, physically and financially.” He said, “You will learn to navigate it, and it will make you a better person.”

Kristina Rosales Kostrukova flew in from São Paulo, where she is a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. She received a Boren Scholarship, a Pickering Fellowship and a Fulbright, allowing her an opportunity to spend significant time in Brazil as a student. She urged, “Envision where the fellowship will take you.”

Frost School of Music lecturer Cliff Sutton received a Fulbright to Uruguay, where he intensively studied Candombe, an Afro-Uruguayan drum music tradition he discovered while a student at UM. “I was supposed to have a semester-long experience and it ended up taking over my life,” Sutton said adding that he uses Candombe methods to teach his classes. Sutton and his Candombe performance group presented three songs to end the event on a lively note.

The Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships helps undergraduate students maximize their candidacies for nationally competitive awards, fellowships and scholarships – providing information about opportunities, and guidance through the application process. For more information, please click here.

Posted in Briefly Noted, Honors, News

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