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Ten Elon scholars named semifinalists for Fulbright Awards

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities to recent graduates in more than 140 countries, with approximately 1,900 grants awarded annually in all fields of study. 

Elon University is celebrating the selection of 10 of its student scholars as semifinalists for awards through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the largest exchange program in the country that offers opportunities for recent graduates in more than 140 countries. 

Founded in 1946, the Fulbright program awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study, with recent graduates and graduate students undertaking international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and primary and secondary teaching worldwide. The 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. As semifinalists, these Elon scholars have been recommended for final consideration for a Fulbright award, with the finalists to be notified this spring beginning in late March.

This year's Fulbright semifinalists from Elon are: 

Steven Armendariz '17

​Pursuing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Spain

Major: Political Science and International & Global Studies
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.

A Leadership Fellow and Odyssey Scholar, Armendariz has been involved in the SGA, Model United Nations, LEAD Program, It Takes a Village Project and has served as a diversity ambassador for the Admissions Office during his time at Elon. An internship spent in Washington, D.C. played a key role in helping him determine that he'd like to work for the government or an international organization in the future. 

Armendariz is hoping to continue to pursue his passion for teaching and mentoring after graduation through the Fulbright fellowship, saying that while abroad he would like to "be an ambassador of hope that can hopefully improve my students' abilities and their perception of the United States."


Jack Doyle '17

Pursuing a Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Germany

Major: International & Global Studies and Religious Studies
Hometown: New Bern, N.C.

Doyle is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, an Elon College Fellow and a recipient of the Elon Presidential Scholarship, among other awards, and while at Elon has been active with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. After an internship at the Women's Islamic Initiative in New York City and a semester abroad in Heidelberg, Germany, he looks ahead to pursuing a graduate degree in international affairs or a fellowship in policy research. Doyle has been mentored by Scott Windham, associate professor of German, in his research on the integration of ethnic Turks in Germany and how it affects German foreign policy toward Turkey and other Muslim nations. 

If selected for the Fulbright Study/Research Grant, Doyle says he'll have the opportunity to "build upon my knowledge of political science and international affairs, my skills as a cultural ambassador between the U.S. and Germany, and my ability to interact with those who see the world differently than I do."


Ben Lutz '17

Pursuing a Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Oman

Major: International & Global Studies and Political Science
Hometown: Marietta, Georgia

Lutz is an Elon College Fellow who has received the World Languages and Cultures Award and a Critical Language Scholarship, been active in the Model United Nations, and has served as a student ambassador for the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, among other activities. His study abroad experiences have taken him to Morocco and Jordan, and he plans to eventually pursue a master's degree in Middle East Security and Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Bradford in England. 

Along with allowing him to continue his study of the Arabic language, the Fulbright award would provide the opportunity to build on skills developed through his undergraduate research project, mentored by Jason Kirk, associate professor of political science and policy studies, which examines Jordanian policies towards refugees. "Religious-based diplomacy will be more effective than secular diplomacy in internal Middle East geopolitics," Lutz says, noting that he would benefit greatly from "the opportunity to witness a successful version of it firsthand in Oman."


Elizabeth Meynardie '17

Pursuing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Taiwan

Major: Elementary Education
Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.

Meynardie is a Teaching Fellow who has been involved with Epsilon Sigma Alpha, Parent's Night Out, The Village Project and the Elon Academy during her time at Elon. A semester abroad in Costa Rica was vital in helping her gain cross-cultural experience. 

In her future teaching career, she plans to work with students who are English language learners, and says her experience abroad through the Fulbright program would "help me better understand the experience these students have and better serve them as individuals."


Casey Morrison '16

Pursuing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Vietnam

Major: Public Health Studies with a sociocultural concentration
Hometown: Berne, N.Y.

A Phi Beta Kappa member and Honors Fellow, Morrison graduated with honors in May 2016 and currently works as a high school teaching assistant. At Elon, she was a Periclean Scholar and was the recipient of the Ravi Thackurdeen Book Award for Excellence in Ethnobiology. 

In the future, she plans to work with newcomers to the United States either as an English to Speakers of Other Languages teacher or by working for an organization that provides services to immigrants and refugees. Receiving the Fulbright award would allow Morrison to return to Vietnam, where she studied in 2015. "Fulbright is not only a way back to Vietnam for me, but is a way back that allows me to do something I love: teaching English," Morrison says. "Whenever I long to be rushing through busy city streets on the back of a motorbike or praying in a quiet temple clouded with incense, thinking of the possibilities behind the Fulbright brings me the patience to wait."

Kelly Richard '17

Pursuing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Indonesia

Major: English with Teacher Licensure
Hometown: Apex, N.C.

Richard is a Teaching Fellow and member of the Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Tau Delta honor societies, as well as a recipient of the Betty Lynch Bowman Scholarship. 

Richard views a Fulbright award as providing the opportunity to hone her skills in the classroom as well as to broaden her global engagement that so far has included study in London, England, and Hyderabad, India. "I hope that this experience would give me the opportunity to grow as an educator, specifically in being able to serve a diverse group of  students," Richard says. "I also believe that I would become a much more capable global citizen. I seek to better understand the cultures and life experiences that are foreign to me."


Lauren Salig '17

Pursuing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Argentina

Major: Psychology and Spanish
Hometown: Downingtown, Pennsylvania

An Honors Fellow, Salig is completing a thesis on how students perceive dualistic language. She brings a unique perspective to teaching through coursework on the Psychology of Learning and TESOL and through sustained experiences tutoring children in reading through the Village Project and working with ESL students locally.  At Elon she has been an active member of Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi and Psi Chi honor societies along with presenting at the Carolina's Psychology Conference and at Elon's Spring Undergraduate Research Forum. 

Salig notes that Argentina, where she wants to teach through the Fulbright program, has a unique dialect of Spanish, so being selected as a teaching assistant "would make me a more informed language researcher in graduate school and beyond. My experience in Argentina will shape the questions about language that I hope to answer with my research and will provide me with additional teaching experience should I seek a job in academia."


Jacqueline Spencer '17

Pursuing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistanthip to Spain

Major: Special Education and Elementary Education
Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama

Spencer is a Teaching Fellow who during her time at Elon has been active in Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Delta Pi honor societies and has completed five educational internships in a variety of settings. 

Spencer hopes to bring back to the United States the lessons she would learn in the classroom through a Fulbright award. "While studying abroad in high school, I noticed that my Spanish peers were not hesitant to practice their English – I hope to return to the United States with techniques that teachers in Spain use to build confidence in order to instill this same confidence in my own students," she says. "Additionally, Spain emphasizes learning English from an early age, which helps students become proficient in two languages while still valuing their native language."


Alex Vandermaas-Peeler '17

Pursuing a Fulbright Study/Research Grant to the United Kingdom

Major: Political Science
Hometown: Elon, N.C.

A Lumen Scholar, Leadership Fellow and Executive Intern at Elon, Vandermaas-Peeler has been involved in the Intellectual Climate Working Group, Undergraduate Research Student Association and the Elon University Poll during her time at the university. Mentored by Safia Swimelar, associate professor of political science and policy studies, Vandermaas-Peeler has focused her research as a Lumen Scholar on post-conflict narratives among the Bosnian diaspora in St. Louis, Missouri. 

A Fulbright grant would offer Vandermaas-Peeler the opportunity to study at what she calls "one of the best universities in the world" in the field of peace and conflict studies — The University of Essex. There, Vandermaas-Peeler would be working with a top scholar in the field, which offers a unique opportunity, she says. 


Hannah Wilpon '17

Pursuing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Costa Rica

Major: History with Teacher Licensure
Hometown: Olney, Maryland

Wilpon is a Teaching Fellow who has worked for four semesters with the Elon Academy and focused her research on English as a Second Language education. 

She looks forward to the opportunity that a Fulbright award would present to return to Costa Rica, where she studied abroad for a semester. Wilpon says living within a different culture would present the chance to "gain a greater appreciation for the diverse backgrounds of students that I will teach in the classroom."


Elon students and recent alums interested in the Fulbright program or other nationally competitive fellowships are invited to visit the National and International Fellowships Office in Powell building or by calling (336) 278-5749.


Owen Covington,
1/26/2017 1:40 PM