University of Rochester

Seven Rochester Graduates Awarded Prestigious Fulbright Scholarships

May 18, 2009

University of Rochester seniors Nicholas Brown, Scott Herman, Derek Hommel, and Chelsea McGuire, along with graduate students Kira Thurman and Clare Zuraw, and recent alumnus William Fassett, have won Fulbright Scholarships to advance their studies, perform research, and teach English abroad. In the past three years, 22 Rochester students and alumni have received Fulbright Scholarships, with record-breaking numbers in the previous two years.

Nicholas Brown, a native of Amherst, Mass., will enroll in a 16-month post-graduate program at the Universitaet Oldenburg in northwest Germany where he will study renewable energy with a focus on wind power. "Renewable energy is a big issue today," said Brown, who will graduate with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and a minor in German. "I'm looking forward to studying the science behind the technology available today and being a part of the industry's future."

In 2007, Brown participated in a summer research fellowship from the DAAD-German Academic Exchange Service/RISE (Research in Science & Engineering) Program, which provided an opportunity for him to work in a German engineering research lab at the Technische Universitaet Berlin. Outside the classroom, Brown was an active member of URTV, expanding its programming to include skits and newscasts. A member of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society and Phi Beta Kappa, Brown also served as a teaching assistant in several courses.

Scott Herman, a graduating senior receiving a bachelor of arts in linguistics and brain and cognitive sciences (along with minors in both Chinese and French) will spend his Fulbright year conducting a cross-dialect study of three languages in Southwest China. Working with experts at the Yunnan Nationalities University, Herman will study how China's global developments affect minority languages of the region.

"This project will fully immerse me in the Chinese language, and through my research, I'll gain a broader perspective of how development and globalization affect languages," says Herman. A native of Cherry Hill, N.J., he will also receive additional funding for intensive language study through the Critical Language Enhancement Award.

Herman is an avid traveler and won the national Freeman-ASIA Award in 2008, which helped fund a semester of study in Beijing. For his success in the classroom, he also was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

The first Rochester student to receive a Fulbright to Korea, Derek Hommel will graduate with a bachelor of arts in Japanese and a minor in linguistics. A native of Manlius, N.Y., Hommel will serve as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in secondary schools in Korea. During a semester abroad in Japan, Hommel had the opportunity to do similar work and he looks forward to reentering the classroom.

"The Fulbright provides the opportunity to put my linguistics education in action teaching English," said Hommel. "But at the same time, I'll also learn the language and culture of Korea."

While at the University, Hommel has been active in the fencing, kendo, and matsuri clubs.

A native of Liverpool, N.Y., Chelsea McGuire is the first Rochester Fulbrighter to travel to the Dominican Republic for her project. A senior working on a bachelor of science in microbiology and immunology and a minor in Spanish, McGuire will spend ten months working with HIV/AIDS clinics and living in one of the Dominican Republic's bateyes, or agricultural communities. After traveling to the Dominican Republic on a summer study abroad program, McGuire set out to create a project that would directly help the people living in those communities.

"The bateyes have the population of greatest need," she explains. "I was struck by what I saw, and was curious to learn what I could do to help meet that need."

McGuire will work with the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra in Santiago, conducting an independent study of health access, with a focus on HIV intervention. For McGuire, the goal is to improve existing health services in the bateyes and increase access to underutilized organizations.

A four-year member of the varsity cross country team, McGuire also is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was a recipient of 2009 Fannie Bigelow Prize.

Kira Thurman, a doctoral degree candidate in German history, will spend her Fulbright year researching the history of black classical musicians in Germany. Thurman received a bachelor of music degree in music history and literature from Baldwin Wallace College, and came to the University of Rochester to continue her education at both the Eastman School of Music and the College. As a classically trained musician, Thurman's studies at Rochester allow her to live in the worlds of music and history.

"I have friends at Sibley Music Library and Rush Rhees Library," she added.

While in Germany, she'll conduct research for her dissertation in the archives of Berlin's Musiklesezahl of the Prussian Staatsbibilothek and work with the musicology department of the Freie Universitaet Berlin. The archives will give her access to conductors' letters, programs, show reviews, and newspapers, exposing the long history of black musicians and performers in Europe from the 1860s to 1960s.

"I'm hoping to find great encounters between musicians," said Thurman. "I aim to bring more awareness to the history of blacks in Germany, as well as create a greater understanding of German culture during this time."

Clare Zuraw, a master's student in the Teaching English to Students of Other Languages (TESOL) teacher preparation program at the Warner School, will be a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She will spend the academic year, which runs from October to June, at the University of Banja Luka working with Bosnian college students to improve their English language abilities and knowledge of the United States while also running a support group for students who plan to study abroad. In turn, she hopes to enhance her Bosnian language skills, learn the culture, and gain experience in teaching academic writing at the college level.

Zuraw, who currently is an English instructor for a job readiness program in the Catholic Family Center's Refugee Resettlement Department, is eager to travel and live abroad.

"I am really looking forward to teaching at the University level," she says. "I currently work with adults here in Rochester, but I see this as a great opportunity to work with University students—a different subset of the adult population. It will be a new experience for me."

William Fassett received a bachelor's degree in history from Rochester in 2006 and will spend his Fulbright year in Mexico as an English Teaching Assistant. While at Rochester, he took Spanish classes in the Modern Languages and Cultures department, participated in the Rochester Center for Community Leadership's Urban Fellows Program, and studied abroad in Spain and Argentina.

"The faculty really exposed me to another culture," said Fassett, who currently serves as an AmeriCorps Vista at Colby College. "That, coupled with the transformative experience of the Urban Fellows program, really shaped my leadership skills. I can't say enough about the influence it had on me."

After his Fulbright year, Fassett, a native of Gaithersburg, Md, hopes to pursue a master's degree in Latin American studies or teaching English as a second language.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and designed to promote mutual understanding and peace between the United States and other nations through educational and cultural exchange, the Fulbright Program offers opportunities for career-launching study, teaching, and research abroad. Scholars pursuing study or research design their own programs and arrange institutional affiliations in the host countries. The grants cover expenses such as travel and health insurance and also provide a monthly stipend.