Eight Davidson College seniors have received 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants, continuing a strong trend of student recognition and reward from the world-renowned program. Catherine (Kaki) Bennett, Claire Gutermuth, William Mogen, Hartman Saylor, Andrew (Drew) Tucker, India Watkins, Mustafa Abid, and Jessie Li were chosen to participate in the government-funded international exchange program because of their academic merits and leadership potential.
The Fulbright program provides its scholars with the opportunity to study, teach and/or conduct research abroad, resulting in the exchange of ideas and contributing to solutions to international concerns.
Kaki Bennett, an Atlanta native, is a Belk Scholar and biology major with a minor in French and francophone studies. She will spend her Fulbright year working with Guy Berchem at the Luxembourg Institute of Health, researching less-invasive biopsy techniques for patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. At Davidson, Bennett has been researching the effects of electronic cigarette vapor on rat lung cells.
"I am looking forward to combining my love of French and biology while learning more about the beautiful country and people of Luxembourg," she said.
Bennett also sings in the Davidson College Chorale, serves as volunteer coordinator for the Free Clinic of Our Towns, and studied abroad in France.
Claire Gutermuth also will conduct research abroad, working in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. She will collect data on the needs and perspectives of people with amputations in India, and also will research the availability and advancement of 3D printing, hoping to explore how this
technology might be used for low-cost prosthetic design in low-resource populations in the developing world.
"I am most looking forward to immersing myself in the Indian culture," Gutermuth said. "My project requires that I understand the context and perspectives of people living with amputations. I am excited to hear their stories and learn more about this country that I find so fascinating."
Born in Houston, Texas, Gutermuth is a psychology major and served as a Human-Centered Design Fellow for the college in conjunction with OpenIDEO, an online platform for using design thinking to solve real-world problems.
In 2014, she interned in the design studio of The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif., where she learned about 3D printing. She also works with Enabling the Future, a global online community that designs, prints and donates prosthetic hands for children.
William Mogen's Fulbright award is an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in Germany. He will work in a school in the city of Lübeck, in the state of Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany.
"I'm most looking forward to being in the classroom and engaging with the students," he said. "I'm excited about the hands-on work of teaching. It will undoubtedly provide me with a broadened perspective on my own academic work, which can only be beneficial down the road."
Fascinated by German language and culture, while at Davidson Mogen studied abroad in Berlin and lived with a host family. He serves as an assistant teacher for the German department and spent the summer of 2013 as a Davidson Research Initiative fellow. A Radford, Va., native, Mogen is a member of the History Honor Society and recently completed his Kelley honors thesis.
Hartman Saylor also will serve as a Fulbright ETA, assigned to a high school in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. A Raleigh, N.C., native, he is a German studies and English double-major, and serves as an assistant teacher for the German department and a German tutor with the Center for Teaching and Learning.
"I have enjoyed teaching German to English speakers here as an AT (assistant teacher), and I'm eager to see what it's like to teach English to German speakers," Saylor said. "This is a great opportunity to build teaching skills, travel in Europe and further develop my German skills. I am grateful to the teachers who shaped me through the years and helped me to appreciate the importance of their jobs."
Andrew Tucker hails from Baltimore, Md., and also received a Fulbright ETA.
He will head to Spain to teach English and lead the Model United Nations program for high school students in Madrid. A political science major with a minor in Hispanic studies, while in Spain he also will research immigration issues and teach English to recent immigrants.
"I'm eager to build new relationships, broaden my understanding of Spanish culture and engage my students in the classroom," Tucker said.
A past chair of the Honor Council, Tucker was instrumental in starting a new Honor Council speaker series on campus. He serves as chair and co-founder of the American Enterprise Institute's on-campus liaison group, organizing speakers and events around public policy. He is a member of the leadership team for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, leading service trips to Johns Island, S.C.
India Watkins will head to Germany to continue her studies in Roman comedy and lexicology with her Fulbright research grant. In affiliation with Trier University, she will examine insults in Roman comedy-a corpus of 27 plays written by Plautus and Terence in the early Roman republic-from a sociolinguistic perspective.
"I find the German language incredibly beautiful," Watkins said. "I'm excited to both learn to speak and read its literature fluently and to give my research a solid background in German scholarship."
A classics major with a minor in global literary theory, Watkins is from Tallahassee, Fla., and has served as an assistant teacher in the classics department and a tutor in the writing center. She earned a Davidson Research Initiative grant last summer to conduct research for her honors thesis on Roman comedy. Following her Fulbright year, Watkins will enter a doctoral program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Mustafa Abid will use his Fulbright research grant to extend research he began last summer in Jordan, analyzing how the influx of Syrian refugees impacts the quality of access to medical care for non-Syrian refugees. Specifically, he'll use patient exit interviews to better understand how patients select NGO clinics and ways capacity building interventions can streamline information and patient referrals.
"Life in Amman centers on the relationships you build," Abid said. "I can't wait to get back and re-kindle relationships from last summer and build new ones. And, of course, I can't wait to be reunited with my favorite cafés and the food they serve."
Abid is a Belk Scholar and political science major with a minor in Arab Studies. Following his Fulbright year, he will attend Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
Jessie Li received a Fulbright ETA and will travel to Taiwan to teach, continuing and deepening her work in education in Asia.
"My interest in education stems from my passions for teaching and for the English language," she said. "I've taught through Breakthrough Collaborative and other programs in Hong Kong and China, and I'm excited to expand and deepen my teaching experience in Asia through the Fulbright in Taiwan."
A native of State College, Pa., Li is a Belk Scholar and English major who loves writing and journalism. She wrote a novella for her English honors thesis, received the Patricia Cornwell Creative Writing Scholarship and served as founder and editor in chief of Her Campus Davidson, an online women's magazine.
The Fulbright Program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide and has provided approximately 325,000 participants with the opportunity to study, teach or conduct research abroad. Approximately 8,000 grants are awarded annually.
The program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which works with private non-profit organizations in the United States and with U.S. embassies and binational Fulbright commissions abroad to administer the program.
*This story was updated on 7/08/15 to reflect that Jessie Li received the Fulbright research grant. She had not been notified of her award at the time of the original post.