Elon students & alumni receive Fulbright awards

Seniors Jensen Suther and Shannalee Van Beek, and alumni Natalie Lampert and Hunter Gros, will travel overseas beginning this fall.


One of the nation’s top awards for post-graduate study and teaching was given to four members of the Elon University community this spring in support of their plans to travel abroad in the coming year.

Seniors Jensen Suther and Shannalee Van Beek, and alumni Natalie Lampert and Hunter Gros, will spend time overseas beginning this fall.

Van Beek received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant to work in Bahrain, while Lampert will use her own Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to educate students in Sri Lanka. Gros heads to India to teach English using the same award, and Suther will continue his scholarly pursuits in Frankfurt, Germany, with support from a Fulbright U.S. Student Research grant.

Current senior Jensen Thomas Suther, an English major with minors in philosophy and German studies, will research the relationship between the philosophical projects of Jacques Derrida and Theodor Adorno and emphasize in this investigation their dialectical models of subjectivity.

“The Fulbright will enable me to study in a country whose literary tradition I have long cherished, and to research critical theory, which has recently come to play a significant role in my intellectual journey,” Suther said.

An Honors Fellow and recipient of an Elon University Presidential Scholarship, Suther was a Lumen Scholar in the Class of 2012 and twice participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program. He has received multiple university awards for his work and has presented at national conferences.

With research interests in modernism, post-structuralism, the novel, critical theory and Marxism, Suther – a member of the Sigma Tau Delta honor society – also tutored in his free time at Elon First Baptist Church.

After his Fulbright award period, Suther will return to the United States to attend the Comparative Literature Ph.D. program at Yale University on a full scholarship. He is the son of Sheree and Daryl Suther of Concord, N.C.

Current Elon senior Shannalee Charlotte Van Beek, an international studies and English double major, travels to Bahrain in the Persian Gulf to teach this fall.

“This award provides me the opportunity to learn about a part of the Middle East I have never experienced firsthand, an area that is especially misrepresented by tropes and sensationalism, which drives fear and hatred,” Van Beek said. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to confront these depictions directly through living and teaching in Bahrain, and I hope that through this, I will be able to offer insight about the nuances and idiosyncrasies of Bahrain in the face of the sweeping stereotypes of Middle Eastern culture.”

Van Beek served as president of the Arabic Language Organization and as fiction editor of Colonnades, Elon’s literary and art journal. The Honors Fellow worked as a special projects intern for the Isabella Cannon International Centre and as a tutor for those studying Arabic.

In fall 2010, Van Beek taught in Egypt for the Language Development Program of Alashanak Ya Balady – Association for Sustainable Development. She also assisted in researching and writing a grant proposal for $200,000 toward nurse education at the Children’s Cancer Research Hospital in Egypt.

After returning from Bahrain, Van Beek plans to pursue graduate work in international studies or Arab studies. She is the daughter of Tom and Anita Van Beek of Indian Trail, N.C.

Natalie Patricia Lampert ’11, an international studies and English double major, developed professional relationships with nonprofit groups there through her studies with the Periclean Scholars.

“Being awarded the Fulbright will allow me to contribute to Sri Lanka’s education system and inspire the students with which I will work, as well as give me the chance to integrate with my local community for a sustained period of time,” Lampert said. “I will use the opportunity of serving as a Fulbright ETA to help promote mutual understanding with the U.S. and Sri Lanka with my teaching, and later, through my writing.”

In addition to her involvement with the Periclean Scholars, Lampert was an Elon College Fellow and spent a semester abroad in Ghana during her undergraduate studies. That time away allowed her to work on a Fellows project on the impact of oil & gas mining in communities in Ghana.

She took part in Model United Nations, served as the literature editor for Colonnades, and spent a summer interning for The Vienna Review in Austria, among other accomplishments.

Upon her return from Sri Lanka, Lampert plans to work for a magazine before pursuing a master’s degree in creative nonfiction and/or journalism. Lampert is the daughter of Peter Lampert and Alison Jameson of Arlington, Va.

Hunter Somerville Gros ’10, who studied international studies with minors in leadership studies and communications, is completing his commitment to Teach for America and will travel to India for a year to also teach English.

“Education is the true engine for global and personal discovery,” Gros said. “My time at Elon allowed me to study abroad four different times. My love for the classroom landed me my first job as a teacher with Teach For America in Phoenix, and I am now blessed with the new opportunity to explore education on an international level as a Fulbright Scholar.

“While I am uncertain as to my future aspirations, it is clear to see that my past, present, and future center on spending time within the stage of the classroom. Whether I am the teacher, or the student, I am continually exploring. This continual exploration is addictive, and I can think of no better way to spend my life than continually learning and sharing my life lessons with others.”

Gros is completing this spring a graduate program in secondary education at Arizona State University. At Elon, Gros was an Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellow and a member of Sigma Iota Rho, the national honor society for international studies. He also took part in Gamma Sigma Alpha, the national academic Greek honor society. He is an Eagle Scout and a two-time marathon runner.

Gros said he plans to spend his free time making a documentary about daily life in India. He is the son of Richard and Kym Gros of Waccabuc, N.Y., and his sister, Keagan, is in the Elon University Class of 2013.

About the Fulbright program:

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.

Ten Elon students or alumni, including the university’s most recent recipients, have been awarded Fulbright grants dating to 2007.