Four Alumni Receive 2014-15 Fulbright Awards

Four Davidson alumni – Ashley Finger '14, John Hengen '14, Minh Nguyen '08 and Trenita Brookshire Childers '05-have been selected as 2014-2015 Fulbright Award recipients. Created by Congress in 1946, the Fulbright program provides grants for students to study or work internationally on individually designed research projects, or to work as English Teaching Assistants.

Finger, a physics major from Cutchogue, N.Y., will use her Fulbright grant to conduct physics research at the Laboratory for Photovoltaics at the University of Luxembourg. Finger earned honors in physics for her thesis at Davidson, which focused on the behavior of charge carriers in semiconductors.

Finger said the experience she gained at Davidson will enrich her Fulbright research. "I'm looking forward to engaging with photovoltaic research on an international level," she said. "I'm also excited to apply my strong background in semiconductor physics to an entirely new project."

Following her research experience abroad, Finger plans to study law at the University of Virginia.

Hengen, a recent graduate in environmental studies, will work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia. During his time at Davidson, Hengen worked as the campus representative for Teach For America and helped recruit 11 Davidson students for that program—the most ever.

"My parents are both teachers, so I always knew I would be involved in education in my undergraduate and post-graduate career," Hengen explained.

After he returns from Malaysia, Hengen plans to enter the Teach For America corps and teach high school English in Greensboro, N.C.

Nguyen, a 2008 graduate in anthropology, will apply his Fulbright award toward researching the lives of Chinese-Jamaican entrepreneurs. Minh said that he's eager to complete research on a group of people that many know nothing about.

"People are usually interested in my Fulbright project because few know that the Asian diaspora made it to Jamaica," he explained. "I'm excited to share the contributions of the Chinese diaspora in Jamaica and learn more about their entrepreneurship. "Childers, a 2005 alumna from Cincinnati, Ohio, received a Fulbright award to travel to the Dominican Republic to complete research for her dissertation. A PhD candidate in sociology at Duke University, Childers will conduct ethnographic research on sociopolitical factors that impact the mental health of people of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic.

"I am interested in how perceived discrimination, ethnic identity, and documentation status condition the relationship between immigrant status and psychological distress," Childers said. "My project is an ethnography compiled by observing and interviewing 60 women of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic."

Childers previously served as a Youth, Family and Community Development Volunteer for the Peace Corps, living in the Dominican Republic for a year and a half. She also writes a blog about juggling an international academic career with family life.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship international educational exchange program. Since its inception, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 300,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential—with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. In the past 67 years, more than 44,000 students from the United States have benefited from the Fulbright experience.