Seven UConn Students Earn Fulbright Awards

Fulbright US Student Program 2019-20 Semifinalists, with Fulbright Program Advisor LuAnn Saunders-Kanabay, at ONSF’s Celebration of Nominees breakfast, April 23, 2019.  Pictured from left to right are Chriss Sneed, Sahil Laul, Grace Bennett, Dhruv Shah, LuAnn Saunders-Kanabay, Omar Taweh, Brianna McClure, and Kim Sawicki


Operating in over 160 countries worldwide, 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.  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, host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. 

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistantships. During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. Through engagement in the community, the individual will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.

Congratulations to the following twelve (12) UConn students who advanced to the Semifinalist (in-country) stage of the competition this year.


Jesse Amar (CLAS ’18) Semi-Finalist, Fulbright Study grant to UK. Jesse grew up in Maine, and developed an interest in classics early, upon his first perusal of Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy. He spent three memorable years in the UConn classics and philosophy programs, where he met his fiancée Caroline. He is currently engaged in France as an English language teacher, and hopes to win a Fulbright to St. Andrews, in order to pursue classics as a field and pedagogy as a profession. He sends his thanks to the philosophy and classics faculties, and in particular to Professor Sara Johnson, who was invaluable in overseeing his undergraduate Honors thesis on two dialogues of Lucian.

Grace Bennett (CLAS, ’18) Fulbright Alternate for an ETA grant to South Korea. Grace is a December 2018 graduate with an Individualized Major in East Asian Studies. After spending a semester studying abroad in Korea, Grace wants to continue her study of the Korean language and teach English in a secondary school setting. An avid hiker, she will explore the mountains in her area and her interests in Korean musical instruments. Upon her return to the US, she plans to pursue a career as a translator and cultural concierge.

Alexander Holmgren (CLAS ’18) Recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Grant to South Korea. Alexander will spend a year teaching English to Korean secondary school students and hopes to share with them his love of literature. He also hopes to fulfill a long time dream of seeing the haenyeo or ‘sea women’ while in Korea.  Alexander will begin law school upon returning to the United States.

Angela Kang (CLAS ’19) Semi-Finalist, ETA grant to Mexico. A psychological sciences major with a minor in Spanish, Angela will bring her experience from working as a conversation partner volunteer for both international undergraduate and graduate students at UConn to her role in an English-language learning classroom in Mexico. Upon her return, she plans to apply to medical school and continue down her path towards helping others.

Sahil Laul (CLAS ’19) Semi-finalist for a Fulbright Study grant to the UK. A molecular & cell biology and global health dual-degree with minors in Spanish and anthropology, Sahil is interested in the social determinants that affect the health of structurally vulnerable populations both domestically and abroad. His experiences as a COP Fellow, IDEA Grant Recipient, and UConn Global Health Symposium coordinator have been pivotal in helping him discover his interest in narrative medicine. He aspires to become a physician and use story-telling as a means to incite policy change and fight for the global right to health in the future.

Josue Lopez (Ph.D. Candidate, Curriculum and Instruction) Recipient of a Fulbright research grant to Guatemala. Josue will conduct ethnographic research in a Mayan Ki-che village to better understand policy and practice relevant to multicultural education. He will partner with community organizing groups and USAID to advocate for educational access and share his research findings with these advocacy groups. Upon his return, he will complete his dissertation, seek a teaching position at an R-1 university and build a teacher exchange program.

Christopher Manoharan (Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology) Recipient of a Fulbright grant to Turkey. Christopher is a doctoral student in Anthropology interested in studying contemporary Sufism. His project will focus on an ethnographic analysis of Sufi rituals and an experimental assessment of the dhikr ritual utilizing heart rate sensors and accelerometers. In addition to his academic pursuits, Christopher is also a musician and looks forward to performing Turkish music on the fiddle in street performances. Upon his return, he will complete his dissertation and pursue a career in diplomacy.

Brianna McClure (CLAS ’19) Fulbright Alternate, ETA grant to Mexico. Brianna is a member of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Leadership Board and has worked at the Puerto Rican & Latin American Cultural Center for 3 years. Outside of UConn she works as an intern at the Peruvian Consulate in Hartford and will be receiving her B.A in political science this May. She has participated in volunteer trips to Costa Rica, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic through various NGO’s. She loves volunteering internationally, and hopes to pursue her passion professionally by serving as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department.

Kim Sawicki (CAHNR ’19) Recipient of a Fulbright grant to the European Union. With a dual-degree in pathobiology and allied health sciences, Kim’s undergraduate work prepared her for a future career in epidemiology, studying the One Health Initiative. Collaborating with St. Andrew’s University (Scotland) and the Marine Institute (Republic of Ireland), her work explores current successful efforts in the EU which preserve cultural coastal fishing communities. The results will be shared with domestic fisheries partners and marine conservation experts who seek to expand sustainable fishing practices.

Dhruv Shah (CLAS ’19): Recipient of a Fulbright grant to India. Dhruv studies molecular and cell biology, English, and creative writing. He hopes his time as an English Teaching Assistant will help him experience the unique stories, color, customs, and different ways of life India has to offer. He will use his experiences to improve himself as an academic physician, an author, and as an informed citizen of the world.

Chriss Sneed (Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology). Recipient of a Fulbright Research grant to Brazil. Throughout the 2018-2019 academic year, Chriss has been a Research Associate in Residence at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center (South Hadley, MA) and Visiting Instructor of African American Studies at Wesleyan University during the Spring 2019 semester. Their dissertation analyzes how constructions of identity shape individuals’ understandings and involvement in social justice organizations and practices. Specifically, they examine the role of identity in Black/Afro-descendent activist engagements within the United States and Brazil, with a special focus on work which sits at the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality.

Omar Taweh (CLAS ‘19) Recipient of Fulbright Research grant to Jordan. As a neurobiology & psychology double major minoring in human rights, Omar is interested in the intersection between resource access to refugees and their resultant health outcomes in local and international host countries. Upon his anticipated return to the US, Omar will apply to medical school in hopes of becoming an ER doctor to serve domestic and international populations facing adversity and difficulty accessing basic medical care.


To learn more about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, make an appointment today to meet UConn’s Fulbright Program Advisor Ms. LuAnn Saunders-Kanabay, or visit the Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships and click “Talk to an Advisor.”

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