Seven Dartmouth students and two alumni have been selected as Fulbright Scholars, and will study or teach in Austria, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, Spain, and South Korea.
Sponsored by the U.S. government, the Fulbright Program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other nations through international educational exchanges in more than 155 countries. Fulbright awards are available for research, graduate study, and teaching English. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Fulbright programs have been postponed until January.
“Once again, Dartmouth fielded applicants—and winners—across all academic disciplines. The caliber and curiosity of a Dartmouth student makes for an excellent candidate,” says Associate Director of Undergraduate Advising and Research Dawn Carey, who, with her colleagues, advises Dartmouth students and alumni through the Fulbright and other national fellowship application processes.
To learn more about how to apply for the Fulbright and other programs, visit Dartmouth’s Fellowship Advising Office.
Sabena Allen ’20
Sitka, Alaska, and Biddeford, Maine
Native American Studies major; geography minor
Research/study grant, Canada
A member of the Tlingit tribe of Alaska, Sabena Allen applied for Fulbright for “the opportunity to get an Indigenous perspective from Canada and to do work with the part of my tribe that is on the other side of the border,” she says.
Although she has decided to begin a PhD program in anthropology at the University of Chicago instead of Fulbright, the chance to engage with her tribe across national borders is something she hopes to do in the future.
She is driven by “the goal of indigenizing the academy,” she says. “I want to make room for indigenous knowledge in places that have traditionally been unfriendly to Native people. I hope that indigenizing colonized spaces will make the world a better place by transplanting settler colonial violence with Indigenous worldviews.”
At Dartmouth, she interned at the Hood Museum of Art, where she researched “tensions between academia, museums, and Native people,” she says.
Among those she has worked with is Meredith Fergusen, the manager of Digital Humanities and Social Engagement. “Her critical take on anthropology as well as museum studies opened my eyes to a whole new field of study,” Allen says.
Her thesis adviser in Native American studies, Senior Lecturer Vera Palmer, “shaped the way I talk about Indigenous issues. She taught me to bring Native issues into conversation with Western scholarship.”
Allen’s thesis explores Tlingit history through the lens of catastrophe, looking at how “traditional practices and knowledge can be applied to contemporary catastrophes like repatriation and climate change,” she says. “This project has also served as the basis for the research I will continue as I pursue my PhD.”
Mychaela Anderson ’20
Anthropology major; education and theater minor
English teaching assistant grant, South Korea
The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program offers Mychaela Anderson the perfect combination: a chance to lead a classroom before returning to graduate school for her teacher certification, and an opportunity to do so while immersing herself in South Korean culture.
“I wanted a gap year that would help me develop teaching and classroom skills that aren’t as emphasized in most certification programs,” she says. “I was also intrigued by Fulbright’s emphasis on cultural exchange, which compliments my interest in anthropology.”
An anthropology major, Anderson says studying other cultures has “helped me recognize and change my default modes of thinking and living in the world. I like classes that facilitate that kind of unlearning.”
Anderson credits Francine A’Ness, the research assistant professor who taught her “Writing 5” section, with helping her realizing her “hidden love for education,” Anderson says. “Every education professor who has taught me since then has continued to shape my interest.”
Last summer she was a teaching fellow with Summerbridge, a San Francisco-based program for middle school students from under-resourced backgrounds, and, at Dartmouth, has volunteered with Students Teaching the Arts, providing arts-based activities for Hanover-area elementary school students.
Outside the classroom, she has worked in the costume shop and as a Collis After Dark Events intern and chair of the Collis Governing Boards, activities that have “shaped my time at Dartmouth,” she says.
She has also served as an orientation team leader for first-year orientation, and as a student facilitator with the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy’s Dartmouth Leadership, Attitudes and Behaviors (DLAB) program, which helps first-year students connect their activities to their personal values.
Michelle Ha ’11
Seoul, South Korea
Research/study grant, Mexico
For Michelle Ha, Fulbright runs in the family: Her mother, a South Korean citizen, received a Fulbright as a visiting scholar in the United States, where Ha was born.
“I feel pride to be able to continue this family tradition,” Ha says. “It’s an honor to be inducted into this community of scholars interested in collaboration, cross-cultural communication, interaction, and exchange.”
A Harvard-trained lawyer, Ha was working for a Manhattan firm when she learned about an early-20th-century migration of Korean indentured workers to Mexico. Fascinated, she began researching on her own before deciding to pursue the project full-time.
Through Fulbright, she plans to continue her research in Mexico, accessing archives and visiting the plantations where the migrant workers cultivated henequen, a plant used to manufacture twine.
“I only had an inkling of what this would be when I started, but the more I learn, the more it just opens up,” Ha says.
She calls her Dartmouth experience “pivotal”—especially the courses “Theories of Justice” and “Multiculturalism” taught by Joel Parker 1811 Professor in Law and Political Science Sonu Bedi and Associate Professor of Government Lucas Swaine, respectively.
Among her activities at Dartmouth, she received funding from the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding for an internship with the U.S. State Department that took her to Geneva, Switzerland, with the U.S. delegation to the Conference on Disarmament. She also received a State Department Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Jordan the following summer.
Post-graduation, she received a fellowship as well as Dartmouth funding to spend two years studying Arabic language and culture in Egypt before she returned to the U.S. for law school.
“Everything I’ve done since college has been a factor of the opportunities I had while I was an undergrad,” she says.
Steven Johnson, Geisel ’22
Research/study grant, Indonesia
“To be able to help someone just a bit—that’s what drives me,” says Steven Johnson, who will use his Fulbright to develop safety protocols for Indonesian sea cucumber fishermen at risk for serious diving injuries, such as decompression sickness.
A decorated 10-year veteran of the U.S. Navy Special Operations Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit—the “bomb squad”—Johnson, currently a lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserves, served as a platoon leader of bomb disposal operations in Iraq, where his team trained Iraqi forces and disarmed improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
He also led underwater search-and-recovery efforts for downed aircraft, including Ethiopian Airways flight 409, which crashed off the coast of Lebanon in 2010.
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, where his parents were missionaries, Johnson fell in love with the ocean. He learned to dive in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he went to high school, and signed up for the Navy ROTC “so I would always be near a beach,” he says.
He majored in biology at Norwich University in Northfield, Vt., before joining the Navy, where he thrived in the rigorous culture of the EOD, which required intensive training in diving, skydiving, and bomb disposal.
“I enjoyed being on a small team where you were expected to study frequently—the longer you go the more you’re expected to know,” he says. “You’re around a bunch of people who are very focused, and it’s very physically demanding.”
But he always wanted to be a doctor, and at Geisel, he’s found another small, focused community. “My classmates and the faculty have been really supportive,” he says. “My primary goal is to be a good physician.”
Katrina Keating ’20
Psychology major; human-centered design and Spanish minors
English teaching assistant grant, Spain
As an intern last winter for the New York-based education nonprofit Reach the World—an experience funded by the Dartmouth Center for Social Impact—Keating helped connect K-12 classrooms in the U.S. with Fulbright scholars around the world.
“Seeing how much students grew through a virtual exchange made me wonder how much of a difference an in-person cultural exchange could make for students,” Keating says.
She plans to connect with American classrooms through Reach the World when she is in Spain as a Fulbright English teaching assistant.
Keating spent a term studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina—an experience that “opened my mind to new ideas and helped me reflect on myself and my own culture,” she says. “I knew I wanted to spend time in a Spanish-speaking country after graduation.”
She is active in the Dartmouth Outing Club, serving as co-chair of Women in the Wilderness, in leadership roles in Cabin and Trail, and as a volunteer for first-year trips. She has volunteered with Growing Change and Social Impact Nonprofit Consulting, is a member of the Sexual Assault Peer Alliance, and served as a retreat leader for Aquinas House.
Last summer she interned at D-Rev, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that designs medical technologies for under-served communities.
“I felt compelled by D-Rev’s story because its first product—a low-cost prosthetic device—began as a student project focused on solving a real-world problem, similar to several projects I had done in my classes,” she says. “I saw how social entrepreneurship strategies can transform a solution from an idea into a business achieving maximum social impact.”
Of receiving the Fulbright, she says, “I am inspired and humbled by Fulbright’s mission, which is more important than ever.”
Sloane Sambuco ’20
Palm Beach, Fla.
Economics major modified with computer science; psychology minor
Research/study grant, Spain
In high school, Sloane Sambuco competed in the Technovation Challenge, an international entrepreneurship contest for which her team—which invented the app PraisePop to showcase positivity in communities—won first place in the U.S. and second in the world. (Sambuco and PraisePop have been featured in the documentary CodeGirl.)
“What drives me is harnessing the power of technology to alleviate socio-cultural problems,” she says.
At Dartmouth, a favorite class was “Macroeconomic Policy in Latin America,” taught by John French Professor in Economics Douglas Irwin and Senior Lecturer Marjorie Rose. The class traveled to Argentina during interim to conduct field research and interview officials and economists—a trip that inspired her to develop an app to provide a platform “for students from different countries to connect and learn from each other,” she says.
She served as president of the a capella group The Subtleties, senior executive of the Dartmouth Finance Society, and marketing chair of the annual hackathon HackDartmouth. She was a Women in Science Project research intern in physics, and spent a term as a data analytics intern with Mozilla Firefox and as an investment banking summer analyst with Centerview Partners.
Through Fulbright, Sambuco will earn a master’s in finance with a focus on financial technology from the IE Business School in Madrid. She also hopes to join a local singing group and to volunteer in the community.
“I am humbled and honored to be a Fulbright Scholar,” she says. “Unity and cultural understanding are so important in the world today, and I am looking forward to serving as a cultural and academic ambassador.”
Mary Tobin ’20
San Diego, Calif.
Engineering sciences major; human-centered design minor
English teaching assistant grant, Germany
Mary Tobin fell in love with Germany while on a language study abroad program in Berlin. “The scenery was beautiful, and the cultural attitudes align with my interest in sustainability,” she says.
An engineering major, Tobin is “fascinated by how things work. I’m captivated by the process of imagining a contraption and then designing and fabricating the device into a physical object that could make an impact.”
Extensive backcountry experience has instilled her with a love for the outdoors and a commitment to using engineering to fight climate change, she says. “I want to work with others to implement green technologies to preserve natural spaces and improve livelihoods.”
In her “Engineering Design Methodology and Project Initiation” course she had the opportunity to analyze Dartmouth’s energy systems and research alternative solutions.
“We learned about up-and-coming alternative technologies and worked with stakeholders—engineers, administrators, the sustainability office, Hanover officials—to incorporate their priorities into our recommendations,” she says.
Tobin plays on the women’s varsity rugby team, was a member of the executive board of the Dartmouth Society of Women Engineers, and is an associate affiliate with the Irving Institute for Energy and Society. She also spent a term on the Stretch, the earth sciences department’s off-campus program.
Fulbright is “an incredible opportunity to engage with a new community, and to increase my global understanding. I am honored, humbled, and excited to see where this new adventure will take me,” she says.
“I’m excited to help students improve their English and to join the local community, explore the German backcountry, and engage with local engineers. I want to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible.”
Claire Votava ’18
Research/study grant, Germany
Claire Votava wrote her undergraduate thesis on the history of women in science—specifically, why some women scientists “were able to gain recognition within their field despite the obstacles,” she says.
Through Fulbright, Votava—currently a business intelligence analyst with a law firm—will expand on that research at Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, focusing on physicist Lise Meitner and chemist Dorothy Hodgkin.
“I want to understand the factors that allowed one woman to win the Nobel Prize, while the other, despite her achievements, fell short,” Votava says. “I hope to offer a proactive model of advocacy within the scientific community that can advance more equity.”
Votava arrived at Dartmouth planning to be a science major. But she found herself more intrigued by scientists’ biographies than her work in the lab.
“I was lucky to have professors who helped me realize how fundamental history is to the recognition—or lack thereof—of those women scientists I grew up adoring. They helped me translate what I cared about to my intellectual activities,” she says. “It’s hard to describe how indebted I feel to the history department, and, in particular, to Professor Richard Kremer.”
She also credits Professor of History Cecilia Gaposchkin, who led the foreign study program in London, where Votava began her research and later interned at London’s Science Museum; and Herschel Nachlis, a research assistant professor of government who taught her class on “Laws, Courts, and Judges.”
“Receiving a Fulbright feels like a reflection of my time at Dartmouth, and the people—both friends and professors—who fundamentally changed me, cared for me, and inspired me throughout,” she says.
Chase Yakaboski, Thayer ’23
Mary Esther, Fla.
PhD candidate in engineering, Thayer School of Engineering
Research/study grant, Austria
Chase Yakaboski will use his Fulbright scholarship to develop research for his PhD thesis on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
A 2014 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Yakaboski was drawn to pursue research abroad because of his experience as a civilian software developer and operations research analyst for the U.S. Air Force. Though he was based in Florida, his work took him to Australia “as part of a collaboration effort to develop our software tools in compliance with other country’s specific requirements,” he says.
“It was extremely rewarding working in another country and engaging in a diplomatic as well as a technical capacity, and it gave me an appreciation for the importance of cross-cultural fellowship.”
In Austria, he hopes to explore family roots in addition to pursuing “the research that I love,” he says. “I couldn’t pass that up.”
Engineering comes naturally to Yakaboski, who works with Professor of Engineering Eugene Santos, whom he credits with teaching him “how to think deeply about problems.”
“I like trying to understand a problem, making something to address it, and seeing if it works. Dartmouth has fed my intellectual curiosity because of its interdisciplinary emphasis and the ease of access to mentors. Where else would I be getting coffee with my adviser every day? These small interactions have been hugely beneficial to all aspects of my academic development.”
He is a fellow of Thayer’s PhD Innovation Program, which provides entrepreneurial training to graduate students pursuing private sector careers. “I think my path lies somewhere between research and entrepreneurship,” he says.
Outside of research, Yakavoski loves to play tennis. “When I am stuck on a problem, the tennis court is the first place I go.”
Hannah Silverstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.