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Three Swarthmore Students, Five Alumni Receive Fulbright Grants

2019 Fulbright scholars

Clockwise from top left: Susan Gonzalez ’19, Meghan Kelly ’18, Juhyae Kim ’19, Julius Miller ’19, Dakota Pekerti ’16, Kai Richter ’16, Isabella Bellezza-Smull ’17, and Frank Mondelli '14.

Three Swarthmore seniors and five alumni have received Fulbright grants for next year, affirming the College’s status as one of the top producers of Fulbright grantees.

The Fulbright is bestowed “to encourage collaboration between citizens of the U.S. and those of other countries to develop ideas and address international concerns.” With its vast academic focus, including the social sciences, the humanities, and the sciences, the Fulbright program emphasizes leadership development.

The Swarthmore seniors and alumni earned four English teaching assistantship (ETA) grants and three research grants, empowering them to conduct independent research, study at the university level, or teach English in a host country abroad.

An additional Swarthmore senior was selected but declined a Fulbright grant in order to pursue other opportunities, says Melissa Mandos, Swarthmore fellowships and prizes advisor. Two other Swarthmore seniors have been named as Fulbright alternates thus far.

This year’s Swarthmore grantees:

Susan GonzalezSusan Gonzalez ’19, a neuroscience special major from Cambridge, Mass., earned an English teaching assistantship (ETA) to Mexico.

“My Mexican American upbringing instilled within me a passion for diversity and multilingualism. At Swarthmore, I have engaged in multiple teaching and community engagement initiatives that heightened my passion for cross-cultural understanding. As an ETA, I am excited to serve as a role model for lifelong language learning and to inspire students to do the same. I also hope to engage in ongoing public health initiatives related to educational outreach.”


Meghan KellyMeghan Kelly ’18, who is studying international education policy at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, earned an ETA to Spain.

“I am thrilled to be a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Spain next year. I am considering becoming a full-time teacher, so this seems like a great opportunity to see if that career path is best for me. I have been to Spain twice, and I am eager to learn more about the country through the lens of an educator. While I’m sure I’ll run into challenges along the way, I’m interested to see how I can apply my college and graduate school coursework to classroom teaching in Spain.”


Juhyae KimJuhyae Kim ’19, an honors linguistics major from St. Charles, Mo., earned an ETA to Taiwan.

“This will be a fantastic way for me to build on my studies in linguistics, education, and Mandarin. At Swarthmore, one of my field placements for an educational studies course was a school in Chinatown, and I loved working with the emergent bilingual students there. While living in Taiwan, I hope to draw from that experience and continue to practice Mandarin.”


Julius MillerJulius Miller ’19, an engineering major from Fountain Hills, Ariz., earned an engineering research grant to South Korea. Project title: Design of Therapeutic Clothing for Stress Alleviation through Electronic Nerve Stimulation.

"For me, the Fulbright represents the unique opportunity for me to pursue what I strongly believe to be my purpose on Earth. It's wonderful to be able to be a cultural ambassador representing the United States, but I'm excited for the ways in which the grant will allow me to grow and mature as a young man in the increasingly connected 21st century. Hard work and intelligence are not enough to make it in the world. To me, having a strong emotional quotient and a nuanced intercultural sensibility is crucial not only just to survive, but to thrive. I see the Fulbright Grant as well as the accompanying experience I'll have in South Korea as an exercise in developing those values."


Dakota PekertiDakota Pekerti ’16, an energy analytics engineer at Geli in San Francisco, earned a transportation research grant to Indonesia. Project title: Optimizing Indonesian Supply Chain Logistics.

“As an Indonesian American who grew up in Texas, the only tangible interactions I had with my culture were at home with my immediate family and childhood visits with extended family in my parents’ home cities of Jakarta and Denpasar. I gained three important things through these interactions: awareness of my unique cultural identity, an appreciation of the natural environment from exploring Indonesia’s beaches and forests, and clarity on the sharp socioeconomic juxtaposition between my middle-class American upbringing and the struggles of living in a developing nation. For me, this Fulbright fellowship is a huge opportunity to follow up on each of these areas.”


Kai RichterKai Richter ’16, a student activities coordinator at YK Pao School in Shanghai, earned an ETA to Spain.

“I am thrilled to be teaching English in Spain next year with the Fulbright program. I have spent the past three years working in a bilingual school in China, and am passionate about second-language acquisition in bilingual or immersion settings. This coming year, I will be teaching in a trilingual school in Galicia and am excited to return to such a beautiful and linguistically diverse environment. I am grateful for this opportunity to join a new community, engage in cultural exchange, and gain more insight into language learning in a formal classroom context.”


Isabella Bellezza-SmullIsabella Bellezza-Smull ’17, Latin America program coordinator at Global Exchange in San Francisco, earned a political science research grant to Italy. Project title: Life After the Boat: Migration, Integration, and Social Cohesion in Siracusa, Sicily.


Kai RichterFrank Mondelli '14, a doctoral candidate in Japanese media studies at Stanford, earned a research grant to Japan. Project title: Deaf Media: A Genealogy of Assistive Technology Representation and Communications in Japan

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to receive this Fulbright grant to pursue my doctoral dissertation research. My previous experience as a Fulbright researcher after I graduated from Swarthmore was life-changing, and I have no doubt that the upcoming year will see many opportunities for me to once again grow as a person and a scholar. I can’t wait to bring the Swarthmore spirit back to Japan and pursue meaningful research on new media, technology, and disability in light of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.“

Gonzalez, Kim, and Miller will join Assistant Dean and Director of the Black Cultural Center Dion Lewis, a Fulbright-Hays Scholar in 2002–04, and Assistant Director of Employer Relations in Career Services Jackie Bailey-Ross Moriniere ’12, a Fulbright grantee to Russia in 2012–13, for a panel discussion at 4:30 p.m. this Friday in Science Center 105. The event is open to the public and refreshments will be served.

Swarthmore is investing in its vibrant intellectual culture. Learn how at lifechanging.swarthmore.edu.

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