University of Rochester

Seven Rochester Graduates Awarded Fulbright Scholarships

May 20, 2010

University of Rochester seniors Sara DuBois, Aynsley Duncan, Elizabeth Gabster, Anita Hargrave, Elise Russell, Judith Tulkoff, and Andre Washington have won 2010-11 Fulbright Scholarships to advance their studies, perform research, and teach English abroad while serving as young ambassadors to their host countries. Fulbright Scholarships are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

In addition to Rochester's seven winners in this year's competition, seniors Michael Kaufman and Rachel Odhner were named Fulbright Alternates and may eventually be offered grants. Sara Goico '09, who was named a 2009 Fulbright Alternate, also was recently selected to serve as a 2010 English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Peru. In the past four years, 28 Rochester students and alumni have received Fulbright Scholarships, with record-breaking numbers in 2007 and 2008.

Sara DuBois, a native of Horseheads, N.Y., will spend her Fulbright year as an ETA in Russia. DuBois is the first Rochester Fulbright scholar to be accepted for that program to Russia.

After spending a year in Finland through the Rotary Youth Exchange, DuBois began her studies at Rochester with an interest in Russian culture. As an anthropology and Russian double major, DuBois has studied the politics, literature, history, and language of the nation.

"Rotary's motto is 'peace through understanding' and in my experiences abroad, I have really taken that to heart," said DuBois. "The Fulbright award gives me the opportunity to share information about American culture in an ambassadorial position, while immersing myself in Russian culture."

A former member of the University's chapter of Rotaract, the collegiate arm of Rotary, DuBois spent several years tutoring and mentoring teenage refugees from Russia who have resettled in the Rochester area. DuBois also served as a teaching assistant for an introductory anthropology course. She was selected to join Phi Beta Kappa and was the recipient of the Russian Book Award and the Burton Award in Russian. DuBois hopes to obtain a master's degree in community development once her Fulbright year is complete.

Aynsley Duncan graduated this month with a bachelor of science degree in neuroscience. The Oreland, Pa., native will serve as a Fulbright ETA in Korea. Already well traveled, Duncan has toured Scotland, Egypt, Hungary, Greece, and Turkey, and also spent a semester abroad in Israel. She applied for a Fulbright to Korea because it's a country she has not had the opportunity to visit.

"Eastern Asia is completely unfamiliar to me, but I've always been intrigued by the history and culture of the region," Duncan explained. "I'm eager to spend my year working with people who are motivated to learn English. My main goal while abroad is helping students improve their language skills."

While at Rochester, Duncan has worked in two research laboratories at the University's Medical Center. She recently presented a research project at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons annual conference. In the classroom, Duncan served as an undergraduate workshop leader for six general chemistry and neurochemistry classes, helping her peers learn the course material. She worked as a Meridian in the College Admissions Office and also volunteered at the Planned Parenthood clinic in the city of Rochester. For her successes both inside and outside of the classroom, Duncan was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After her Fulbright year, Duncan plans to attend medical school.

Elizabeth Gabster is no stranger to languages. An English major who minored in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and American Sign Language, she also has studied German, Polish, and French while at Rochester. A native of Mount Laurel, N.J., she is the first Rochester student chosen for the Fulbright ETA program in Poland. Gabster's interest in Poland comes from her Take Five research project, which focused on 20th-century Eastern European and Russian studies. As a Take Five scholar, Gabster was selected for a fifth year of study tuition-free to continue her research on the subject.

"I've always had a desire to engage with different cultures," said Gabster. "Fulbright will allow me to share my passion for English literature while applying my interest in the region and immersing myself in the local language."

Gabster has held numerous leadership positions on campus including president of the Writing Fellows, through which she worked with the University's Writing Center to help peers improve their writing skills. She also has served as an executive member of the Campus Activities Board for the past three years. She has completed internships with the State Department, Rochester's Open Letter Books, and Random House, Inc. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she also was awarded the 2010 Susan B. Anthony Prize. Gabster expects to enter graduate school after her time in Poland and to pursue a career in international relations.

A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Anita Hargrave will travel to Ecuador on a study/research Fulbright grant. Well traveled in Latin America, she has developed a deep interest in the region. That interest, paired with her commitment to studying public health, has led Hargrave to devise a research project that will focus on the dietary habits of villagers in a small town in the Andes.

The study will examine how those habits affect the development of children in the region. Hargrave will work with a clinic in the village collecting epidemiological data and also will observe villagers in their day-to-day activities. She will work under the supervision of Dr. Wilma B. Freire, the director of the Institution of Investigation and Nutrition at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.

"I'm hoping to produce work that will be of interest to the people of the town," she explains. "By offering recommendations on ways they can feasibly provide better nutrition, I can contribute something to the community."

Hargrave, who graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in health and society and minors in Spanish and biology, has been very involved on campus. She is a member of Amnesty International, the Society of Undergraduate Biology Students, and participates on the club soccer and Ultimate Frisbee teams. She was awarded a 2010 Fannie Bigelow Prize and sits on the executive board of Phi Beta Kappa. Hargrave is the third member of her family to be named a Fulbright Scholar, following her mother and older sister. She would like to pursue an advanced degree in public health and attend medical school.

A native of Kenosha, Wis., Elise Russell was chosen as an ETA to Malaysia. A psychology major with a minor in music, Russell's interest in cross-cultural psychology led to an independent research project that examined the trends and characteristics of lullabies and play songs in rural villages in coastal Kenya.

"I'm really looking forward to gaining a better understanding of the situations of a different country and seeing the world through a different mindset than our own," she said.

Russell, who transferred to Rochester after one year at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, has been a resident of the Music Interest Floor and is a member of the Swing Dance Club. She is a recipient of the Dean's Scholarship for Transfer Students and also was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Russell plans to attend graduate school upon completion of her Fulbright year, with the ultimate goal of earning a doctoral degree in clinical research psychology.

As a Fulbright ETA, Judith Tulkoff will have the opportunity to return to Indonesia, a country that has captured her fascination over the past four years. A native of Alexandria, Va., the September 11 attacks hit close to home for Tulkoff.

"The experience widened my world view," she explained. "And it inspired me to study diplomacy and pursue a career in international security."

As a freshman, she took a class on globalization, which explored Indonesia's history. After the course, Tulkoff knew she wanted to learn more deeply about the country. In 2008, she was awarded a Boren Scholarship through the National Security Education Program, which provided her with up to $20,000 to study in Indonesia during summer. Since then, she has completed an internship with the European Union, where many of the projects she worked on focused on relations with Southeast Asia. She also studied Indonesian through a summer language program at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

"Knowing that I'm returning to Indonesia has made me more committed to my career goals," said Tulkoff, who was awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship, which will fully-fund further study of the Indonesian language in Malang, Indonesia, over the summer. This opportunity will enable her to strengthen her Indonesian proficiency before she embarks on her Fulbright teaching assistantship. "In diplomacy, it's really important to understand the nuances and norms of a culture. Being in Indonesia and really mastering the language will help me be a more effective teacher and become more connected to the community."

Tulkoff has held several editorial positions with the student newspaper, the Campus Times, served as a teaching assistant, was a tutor with undergraduate group Partners in Reading, and volunteered with the Baden Street Tutors. As an ETA, she plans to use this experience to launch a student-run English language newspaper at the high school where she'll teach. In addition to her volunteer work, she is a member of Rochester's chapter of the Kappa Delta Sorority.

Tulkoff was awarded the Wilder Trustee Merit Scholarship, and was elected to both the Golden Key International Honour Society and Phi Beta Kappa. She also recently received the Helen S. Jones Prize, which is awarded to a student who shows significant achievement in the areas of sociology or political science. Tulkoff plans to attend graduate school after her Fulbright year, and will ultimately pursue a doctoral degree in international security, with a focus on Southeast Asia.

When he was young, Chicago, Ill. Native Andre Washington thought he was interested in becoming a surgeon. But thanks to a supportive music teacher, and a life-changing moment while listening to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he realized his true passion, and turned his focus to music, specifically flute performance.

Washington, who graduated from Rochester's Eastman School of Music, has earned a Fulbright grant to Paris, France, to study flute under Jean Ferrandis at the Ecole Normale de Musique. While at the conservatory, he'll study music history and ear training in chamber music, and focus on learning French technique.

"I love performing music with people," Washington said. "It allows you to exchange a piece of yourself with your fellow musicians and also allows you to connect with those you're performing for."

During his career, Washington has had many opportunities to perform. He was the principal flutist in opera orchestra at the Oberlin Conservatory while studying abroad in Arezzo, Italy, and participated in the Eastman Outreach Orchestra and the Wind Ensemble. He recently traveled to the Netherlands to perform in the Freedoms in Music Festival in Holland, and placed second in the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra Instrumental Competition. After his Fulbright year, Washington hopes to stay in France to continue his study of the flute.

The Fulbright Program offers opportunities for career-launching study, teaching, and research abroad. According to its Web site, are "designed to promote mutual understanding and peace between the United States and other nations through educational and cultural exchange." 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.