Graduate students, recent Brown alumni land 38 Fulbright scholarships

Brown continues to rank among the top institutions for recipients of the prestigious international award, which offers students the opportunity to conduct research or teach in countries across the globe.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Thirty-six recent Brown alumni and two graduate students have received Fulbright awards for the 2019-20 academic year to teach English or conduct independently designed research projects in countries across the globe.

Brown is consistently ranked among the top 10 Fulbright-producing institutions, and for the three prior years, students from College Hill have received more Fulbright awards than those from any other U.S. institution. Data on the top-producing schools for 2019-20 is expected to be released by the Fulbright program in early 2020.

Christopher Carr, who oversees undergraduate fellowship programs at Brown, said the sustained year-to-year success of Brown students is a testament to their willingness to step out of comfort zones academically and engage in teaching and research projects that forge deep connections across geographical, cultural and linguistic borders.

“Our winners rise to meet Fulbright's mission of promoting education through cross-cultural exchange, and we at Brown are confident in their ability to serve with distinction as cultural ambassadors of both Brown University and the United States,” Carr said.

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. The program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

This year’s Fulbright recipients from Brown will travel to 27 countries across Asia, Latin America and Europe to conduct independent research, pursue graduate study or teach English. Taiwan will host four Brown recipients, and Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and Indonesia will each host three. Teaching assistantship awardees will provide classroom instruction and share cultural perspectives about the U.S. in contexts ranging from elementary schools in rural villages to high schools and adult education centers in big cities. Other recipients will pursue research projects across a range of academic fields, from psychology and geology to international relations and the theatre.

Rakan Aboneaaj, a Fulbright recipient who graduated from Brown in May, will travel to São Paulo, Brazil, to study the identities of Arabs in Brazil, looking specifically at Syrian refugees and their relationship to the much older Arab-Brazilian immigrant community. The project will offer the opportunity to combine his work in Middle East studies with his prior experience studying at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro as part of Brown’s semester abroad program in Brazil.

Aboneaaj said he hopes to add to current research about identity production during displacement and diaspora, a topic important to his own identity as a second-generation Palestinian.

“Brown afforded me the opportunity to study in Brazil even while pursuing a concentration in Middle East studies and then provided me the support I needed to channel these varied academic experiences into a cohesive research project,” Aboneaaj said. “As someone fascinated by Brazilian society, but with no personal connection to the country, I am extremely excited to be pursuing a project in Brazil that ties into my own cultural identity as an Arab.”

Melanie White, a doctoral student in the Department of Africana Studies, was awarded a Fulbright to conduct dissertation research in the city of Bluefields on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. Her dissertation project is an ethnographic analysis of how black women who are visual artists in Bluefields imagine what alternative life arrangements could look like for the black and indigenous peoples of the region.

White said she has been planning to conduct this research since her early years as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania.

“As a Fulbright scholar, I hope to advance the program’s goals of intercultural relations and competence through my dissertation project and later in my teaching,” she said. “As a second-generation Afro-Nicaraguan woman, I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn more about where my family is from, to aid in local struggles there through my academic work and to be able to share this knowledge in my communities in the United States.”

This year's undergraduate and recent graduate Fulbright Scholars are:

Rakan Aboneaaj (Brazil)

Melanie Ambler (France)

Shade Au (Taiwan)

Ashley Bang (Taiwan)

Isabelle Bauman (Denmark)

Karisma Rani Chhabria (India)

Eojin Choi (Poland)

Jacinta Clay (Norway)

Rachaell Diaz (México)

Sonia Geba (Ukraine)

Makedah Hughes (France)

Julian Jacobs (Belgium)

Jacob Jamison (Germany)

Ricardo Jaramillo (México)

Kiyomasa Kuwana (South Korea)

Tomiyuri Lewis (Thailand)

Mark Liang (Macau)

Jonathan Lujan (Taiwan)

Molly Magid (New Zealand)

Marcus Mamourian (Germany)

Hope McGovern (Austria)

Hafsa Moinuddin (Malaysia)

Jack Morris (Brazil)

Giovanni Santiago (Spain)

Kaia Sargent (Netherlands)

Evan Silver (Indonesia)

Lucy Srour (Indonesia)

Emily Sun (Spain)

Signe Swanson (Ukraine)

Shanze Tahir (Indonesia)

Yesenia Valverde (Malaysia)

Kit Sum Wu (Japan)

Dorothy Yam (Russia)

Daniel Youkilis (Russia)

Crystal Zhang (Japan)

Aaren Zhu (China)

This year's graduate student Fulbright Scholars are:

Keegan Cothern (Japan)

Melanie White (Nicaragua)