Students receive national, international fellowships, grants

Post-graduation usually refers to graduate school or employment, but senior Alexandra Barton ’18 will instead be teaching English for 20 hours a week in Colombia through a US Fulbright Student Grant.

“I did not expect it. I…tried to set my expectations low. When I got through the semi-finals I…was shocked. It honestly hasn’t hit me 100%,” Barton said.

The Fulbright Student Grant for English Teaching Assistantship in Colombia will allow Barton to fulfill her goals of community engagement and working with students after graduation, she said.

Barton, whose family emigrated to the U.S. from Poland, originally struggled deciding where to go with her grant. She said she felt her ties to Poland would make it a great place to study and work. However, after studying abroad in Chile, Barton realized a South American country would also fit her desires, and she ultimately decided on Colombia.

In Colombia, Barton’s weeks will be dedicated to teaching, with an additional 10 hours per week focused on prepping and another 10 focused on direct community engagement. Ultimate Frisbee, which Barton is passionate about, has been growing in popularity in Colombia, Barton said, and she’s looking forward to continuing the sport she loves abroad.

Alumna Elizabeth Lucy ’15 also received a Fulbright grant for English Teaching Assistantship in India.

Several seniors have won scholarships and grants to continue their educations after graduation, ranging from NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships to the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship for graduate education.

Madhav Bista ’18 was one of the two students to receive an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship, allowing him to work for his masters at multiple schools in Europe following graduation. Khulganaa Buyannemekh ’18 is the other recipient.

Bista applied for the scholarship after winter break, knowing he wanted to travel after graduation.

“I was also applying for jobs, but I feel like even though Lafayette has prepared me for the real world experience, at the same time I don’t want to go into that kind of work yet. I want to discover myself, and travel and see the world and how other societies work. This was my top choice,” Bista said.

Bista will spend six months studying environmental engineering and technology in four different countries including the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Belgium. The fourth country is yet to be decided.

Rachel Young ’18 received a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Young always knew she wanted to go to graduate school, and knew that a fellowship from the NSF made graduate school candidates more desirable, on top of providing more funding for research.

Young had to provide a well-cited, 5-year research plan for what she would do in a Ph.D. program. She proposed research to construct a Tissue Engineered Vascular Graft (TEVG) layer-by-layer that possesses the resilience of native blood vessels—however, since the grant sponsors individuals and not specific projects, Young wrote in an email she will most likely be pursuing a different project in her Ph.D. program.

Next year, Young will attend the University of Pennsylvania where she will be studying bioengineering. Young had a similar to reaction to Barton when she found out she had received the fellowship.

“I was definitely shocked because all the candidates that apply are really good candidates, and everyone has very similar GPAs and similar research accomplishments so it really comes down to what you wrote…You kind of prepare yourself for not getting things so that you’re not super hyped up, so when I got it I was very shocked and happy. It was a very good feeling,” Young said.

Alumni Samantha Zeiders ’15 and Michael Yust ’16 also received fellowships from NSF.

Matt Weintraub ’18, a member of the track and field team, was awarded the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship which he plans on putting towards medical school.

Weintraub said he isn’t sure what type of doctor he’d like to be but looks forward to making that decision in medical school. Weintraub credits Lafayette for providing “a diverse range of opportunities,” especially research.

Young echoed Weintraub’s sentiments about the importance of research in her time at Lafayette.

“Because we don’t have any grad students here, the research experiences that I’ve gotten are so one-on-one with my advisor that it actually helped me, it’s been more difficult because I’ve had to problem-solve better but that’s also a good thing to learn,” Young wrote. “Especially when I went on interviews for grad school, I would explain how I did research and that it was me, I wasn’t working for a grad student doing their dirty work. Professors were really impressed by that.”

Aside from seniors, several juniors were awarded national scholarships, including Chenyu Zhang ’19 and Jessica Ackendorf ’19, who received the Goldwater Scholarship, given to sophomores and juniors in undergraduate scholarship given in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics based on merit.  Samuel McQuillen ’19 also received the Beinecke Scholarship for graduate study in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

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Edit: Colombia is spelled with an ‘o’ and not a ‘u’. Please change for the first mention of the country’s name.

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