Three Elon University seniors – Chris Jarrett, Gabrielle Dean and Brittany Carroll – have each been awarded Fulbright Program grants for overseas research and teaching, and their selections represent the largest number of students in university history to receive the prestigious national honor in the same academic year.
Dean and Carroll received a 2011 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship for spending a year in Taiwan teaching English and sharpening their own skills in Mandarin Chinese. Jarrett has been honored with a Fulbright U.S. Student Grant for research in Ecuador.
A fourth member of Elon University’s Class of 2011, Elizabeth Dobbins, is awaiting word on her application to study Arabic next year in Egypt. Altogether, 10 students from Elon applied for Fulbright grants.
For his project, Jarrett will live and work among the Amazonian Kichwa people of the Napo province. His research will involve interviewing community elders and documenting cultural narratives (stories, songs, dream interpretations, and life lessons) associated with their guayusa tea ritual.
These narratives will be written in Kichwa, translated to Spanish and English, and made into two small books with the goal of preserving cultural knowledge associated with the guayusa ritual.
This Fulbright research is an extension of Jarrett’s work with the Lumen Prize, Elon’s premier award for honoring academic and creative achievement, which took the international studies and Spanish double major to Ecuador several times during his studies. The Fulbright work will blend his existing research interests in the relationship between culture and politics, Amazonia, indigenous identity and alternative development strategies.
Jarrett is the son of Elizabeth Jarrett of Richmond, Va., and Thomas Jarrett of Gwynn, Va. In addition to his induction into several academic honor societies, the Honors Fellow has been an active member of Iron Tree Blooming Meditation Society and Emerging Leaders in Technology.
“This Fulbright grant is an incredible opportunity to gain practical experience conducting anthropological field work in Amazonian Ecuador,” he said. “It will greatly contribute to my linguistic skills in Spanish and Amazonian Kichwa and prepare me well for a career as an anthropologist.”
Jarrett has deferred admission to the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he will begin his graduate studies in anthropology after completing the Fulbright.
For Dean, a media arts & entertainment and international studies double major, teaching in Taiwan would assist her with eventually working as an international news correspondent. “I want to help educate people about the more human side of internationalism by promoting a greater awareness of foreign culture, human rights issues, and the needs of the international community,” she said.
Dean’s research interests are in Asian studies, women and gender studies, documentary filmmaking, religion, the effects of globalization and immigration. She also studied Mandarin Chinese, both on campus and during a semester abroad in China. The Honors Fellow is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi.
Outside of class, the daughter of Richard and Donna Dean of St. Augustine, Fla., has been involved with the Liberal Arts Forum, Lunch Buddies and the EV! SHARE program.
“Receiving a Fulbright award is a huge honor and I’m incredibly excited about it,” she said. “Living and working in Taiwan for a year will be a fantastic opportunity for me to explore Taiwanese culture in greater depth, make new friends, and brush up on my somewhat rusty Mandarin Chinese.”
Carroll, an international studies and political science double major from Washington, D.C., plans to pursue a career in international affairs. Her research interests at Elon have been on oil relations between Asian and African nations, and on international education for special needs children in Asia and Africa. She has also spent time in China both through a study abroad program and a summer internship, and she has worked on honing her Mandarin Chinese skills there and at Elon.
Outside of the classroom, Carroll remains active with the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., serving as its treasurer, historian and corresponding secretary. She is a member of the Periclean Scholars, is involved with the Elon University Orchestra, and sings alto in the Elon University Gospel Choir.
She has been inducted into two academic honor societies and has been consistently honored each year since 2008 with the Phillips-Perry Black Excellence Award. Carroll is the daughter of Jerry and Bonnie Linen-Carroll of Washington, D.C.
“The Fulbright Teaching assistantship for Taiwan will not only afford me the opportunity to uniquely represent my country, but also fulfill my passion for intercultural exchange, by improving my foreign language proficiency and really understanding the heart of Taiwanese culture,” said Carroll, an Asian studies minor. “It would be an absolute honor to devote my time and energy in embracing another culture, but also shedding a light to others on the rich diversity within America.”
Since 2007, six Elon students, including the university’s most recent recipients, have been awarded Fulbright grants.
Jennifer Romano ’07 received Elon’s first Fulbright award in late 2007 to teach English in Argentina through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant. Victoria “Tori” Davis ’09 received a Fulbright U.S. Student Grant in Japan, where she conducted research on modern Japanese diplomacy and whether efforts to address terrorism are undermining the government’s professed concern for “universal values” and human rights.
Last year, Molly Costigan ‘10 received a Fulbright to fund one year in Spain teaching in an elementary school while conducting an independent project.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered through the Institute of International Education, the Fulbright was established in 1946 by Congress to “enable the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”
Since its establishment under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.