Funds will be used for research, writing, teaching abroad
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Editors note: Subsequent to this storys publication a 15th awardee, Nicholas Montgomery, from Greene, Iowa, was selected to receive a Fulbright scholarship. Montgomery, an international studies major with minors in Portuguese and linguistics, intended to travel to Brazil. The headline of this story has been updated to reflect the additional award, but the body text remains as originally published.

A record 14 University of Iowa students and alumni have been awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants to conduct research, attend graduate school, undertake creative projects or serve as English teaching assistants abroad in 2016-17.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase understanding between people of the United States and other countries by providing participants opportunities to study, teach, conduct research, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

This is a second record-breaking year for the UI when it comes to Fulbright placements.

According to the list published in the Chronicle of Higher Education earlier this year (which is based on last year’s placement rate) the UI was named one of the top producers of Fulbright Students for 2015–16. Last year, 13 UI students were awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants, resulting in a tied ranking for 27th on a list of peer institutions. Until this year, 13 was the highest number of placements the UI had secured in a single calendar year.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

This year’s recipients include:

Photo of Noaquia Callahan

Noaquia Callahan, of Long Beach, California, is a Ph.D. candidate in cultural and intellectual history at the UI. She was chosen as the top candidate out of this year's 75 Fulbright awardees to Germany to receive a special Germanistic Society of America Fulbright award, commemorating the past hundred years of collaboration between the U.S. and Germany. With her research grant to Germany, Callahan will study the development of interracial collaboration between African American civil rights leader Mary Church Terrell and female German activists between 1888 and 1922. She also will engage the community by giving lectures on U.S. history and culture in German high schools, organize after-school workshops on what it’s like to study at a U.S. university and the application process, and volunteer as a peer mentor with the German-American Fulbright Commission’s Diversity Initiative.

Photo of Lauren Darby

Lauren Darby, of Boston, Massachusetts, graduated from the UI with an M.A. in social studies education in December 2015. With her English teaching assistantship award to Germany, Darby will create a collaborative partnership between students of immigrant descent and first-generation American students in Iowa using video conferencing and social media. She also plans to get involved with student theater to help with set building and technical production.

Photo of Gwendolyn Gillson

Gwendolyn Gillson, of Edmund, Oklahoma, is a Ph.D. candidate in religious studies at the UI. With her research grant to Japan, Gillson plans to investigate the way in which Jodo sect Pure Land Buddhist women are transforming religion in modern Japanese society to address the country’s changing demographics. Gillson will explore how grassroots Buddhist efforts can address 21st-century social issues, ultimately allowing older women to develop new roles as leaders and community builders.

Photo of Abigail Grilli

Abigail Grilli, of Burr Ridge, Illinois, earned a B.A. in elementary education at the UI in May 2015. With her English teaching assistantship award to Greece, Grilli will volunteer with the Hellenic-American Educational Foundation’s physical education program, where she will use her experience as a Division I athlete and diving coach to help Greek students reach their personal athletic goals. Grilli says she also will teach students the values she learned as a student-athlete: commitment, perseverance, and good sportsmanship.

Photo of Destinee Gwee

Destinee Gwee, of Iowa City, Iowa, graduated from the UI in 2015 with a B.A. in biochemistry and Chinese. With her English teaching assistantship to Taiwan, Gwee plans to encourage students in the community to lead active and healthy lifestyles by developing group exercises and promoting healthy eating. As a former coxswain for the UI Rowing Team, she also plans to organize a youth team to participate in the annual Dragon Boat Festival that takes place each June and volunteer as a conversation partner at nursing homes.

Nathalie Halcrow

Nathalie Halcrow, of Orange, California, is expected to graduate from the UI with a B.A. in English and French in May 2016. With her experience growing up in a French-speaking household in the U.S., Halcrow plans to use her English teaching assistantship to Côte d’Ivoire to help empower Ivoirian students to think through their own identity issues as they continue their education. She also plans to organize a creative writing group that will explore a fusion of American and West African written and oral traditions.

Photo of Amanda Kloser

Amanda Kloser, of Dubuque, Iowa, is expected to graduate from the UI with an MAT in secondary education: English in May 2016. With her English teaching assistantship to Turkey, Kloser will use group work and daily immersion exercises to nurture her Turkish students’ lifetime English usage skills. Drawing on her experience as a technology assistant, Kloser also will collaborate with Turkish university colleagues to extend their curriculum to online environments.

Photo of Addie Leak

Addie Leak, of Woodville, Mississippi, earned an MFA in literary translation from the UI in May 2013. With her English Teaching Assistantship award to Jordan, Leak will help local writers translate their works and organize a women’s writing group. She also plans to engage with the community by taking debke dance classes, joining a local hiking group, and volunteering to help Jordan’s refugee community.

Photo of Sarah Lucas

Sarah Lucas, of Saint Joseph, Missouri, is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at the UI. With her research grant to Hungary, Lucas will study Bartók's “First Piano Concerto.” Using letters, manuscripts, scores, and newspapers found only at the Bartók Archive and Széchényi Library in Budapest, she will research Bartók’s debut performances in the U.S. to better understand the patterns of cultural exchange between Hungary and the U.S. in the 1920s.

Photo of Iona Manhilova

Ioana Manahilova, of Nova Zagora, Bulgaria, is expected to graduate with a B.S. in human physiology and a Global Health Studies certificate from the UI in May 2016. With her English teaching assistantship to Bulgaria, Manahilova will draw on her heritage and experience with non-native English speakers to engage with the community by planning after-school discussions with students about sports, health, and contemporary American culture. She also plans to help Bulgarian secondary students explore various vocational choices.

Photo of Kristofer May

Kristofer May, of Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania, graduated from the UI with a B.A. in Russian and a B.S. in biology in 2015. With his English teaching assistantship to Russia, May will provide Russian students with the opportunity to learn about the United States and its history and offer tutoring services for students in science subject areas. He also hopes to improve his own understanding of Russian rural medicine, a field in which he plans to work in the future.

Delaney Nolan photo

Delaney Nolan, of Dover, Massachusetts, is expected to graduate from the UI with an MFA in fiction writing in May 2016. With her creative writing dual-country Fulbright grant to Bulgaria and Greece, Nolan will draw on her education in the Iowa Writers' Workshop to research and write fiction based on the Rhodope Mountain region. She also will audit a class at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and host writing workshops for English-speaking youth in Sofia and the Rhodope village of Duzhdovnitsa, Bulgaria.

Photo of Laura Wang

Laura Wang, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is expected to graduate from the UI with a B.A. in English and Chinese in May 2016. With her English teaching assistantship to Taiwan, Wang will organize a book club where students will read Chinese translations of American novels and discuss how each book references and influences American culture. She also will start a bilingual reading series and become a translator of Taiwanese literature.

Photo of Megan Wood

Megan Wood, of Webster City, Iowa, is expected to graduate from the UI with an M.A. in Spanish and linguistics in May 2016. With her English teaching assistantship to Colombia, Wood will create a film club where she will organize showings and facilitate discussions between Colombian and American university students through Facebook. Wood also hopes to assist the large population of internally displaced indigenous people located in Colombia.

The following UI students and alumni are Fulbright semi-finalists who were named as alternates: Lila Cutter, Ananda Guneratne, Nicholas Montgomery, Patricia Nash, and Sarita Zaleha.