Two dozen UO students earn top study-abroad awards

Crystal globe with 'study abroad' written on it.

Twenty-four UO students have earned the chance to study abroad through prestigious scholarships that put the university in the top ranks for international student scholars.

Eighteen students will travel under Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships, and another six will hit the road under the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The UO is No. 5 in the nation in the number of Gilman scholars.

“Our Gilman scholars continue to have a strong and increasing presence at a national level,” said Kathy Poole, executive director of Global Education Oregon.

Although the UO this year ranks fifth nationally based on overall numbers, when adjusted to reflect the size of the university — the percentage of Gilman awards within the overall undergraduate population — the UO ranks third among AAU public universities, behind only the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Arizona.

“Since international experiences demonstrably increase student career success, our Gilman ranking is another sign of our commitment to access and diversity, making sure every UO student, regardless of family means, can get a truly global education,” said Dennis Galvan, vice provost for international affairs.

Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards study abroad program costs. The program aims to diversify the students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go. 

Students receiving a federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions are eligible to apply. Pell grant-eligible students can apply for a Gilman award to defray the costs of study, internship or research abroad. 

During the 2016 summer term, UO Gilman recipients will participate in study abroad programs and internships in Argentina, China, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, South Korea and Thailand. This year’s recipients, followed by their major, destination and hometown, are:

  • Leah Barrera – Education Foundations, Spanish; Mexico; Eugene.
  • Max Burns – Planning, Public Policy, and Management; Thailand; Redmond.
  • Sandra Castro – Human Physiology; Ecuador; Lakeview.
  • Alonso Cruz – Spanish Literature; Mexico; Portland.
  • Ruhama Dimboré – Political Science, International Studies; Ethiopia; Portland.
  • Timothy Farah – Advertising; Ghana; Portland.
  • Sara Golestaneh – International Studies; Jordan; Tigard.
  • Natania Hernandez – Spanish, International Studies; Argentina; Eugene.
  • Key Higdon – Advertising; Ghana; Portland.
  • Sara King – Linguistics, Japanese; South Korea; Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Phuong Lam – Architecture; Japan; Canby.
  • Gabriela Saldana-Lopez – Planning, Public Policy, and Management; Mexico; Portland.
  • Nadia Saetern – Family and Human Services; Mexico; Aloha.
  • Casey Smith – Political Science, Spanish; Mexico; White City.
  • Chase Struloeff – Human Physiology; Mexico; Oregon City.
  • Savannah Ray – Linguistics, Russian; Kyrgyzstan; Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • Wyatt Waterbury – Business Marketing; Jordan; McMinnville.
  • Natasha Willow – Chinese; China; Portland.

Of the UO’s six Fulbright scholars, three will work as English teaching assistants, while the other three will conduct research in various countries.

“Fulbright recognitions each year are a testament to the quality of our students and the internationalization efforts across our university,” Galvan said. “The research and service these students provide around the world further expands our university's global engagement.”

Fulbright is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. The new cohort brings the total number of UO student Fulbright recipients to 212.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Carly Fontana — A doctoral candidate in political science, Fontana will do research in Scotland and the Catalunya region of Spain. She is from Columbia, South Carolina.
  • Kyla Martichuski — An undergraduate biology major, Martichuski will study in New Zealand. She is from Salem.
  • James Swerzenski — A master’s student in media studies, Swerzenski will be an English teaching assistant in Colombia. He is from Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Zack Thill — A doctoral student in geography, Thill will will do research in Canada. He is from Mount Vernon, South Dakota.
  • Morgan Thomas — A master’s of fine arts candidate in creative writing, Thomas will be an English teaching assistant in Mongolia. She is from Little Rock,  Arkansas.
  • Paige Whitaker —An undergraduate international studies major, Whitaker will be an English teaching assistant in Spain. She is from Redwood City, California.

Martichuski will be conducting breast cancer research for 12 months at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Martichuski’s research is part of a master’s program in biomedical science.

After finishing her studies in New Zealand, she plans to pursue a doctorate at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Kyla is also a native Oregonian, born in Salem. 

“I am so honored to receive a Fulbright,” Martichuski said. “I am appreciative of the knowledge and skills I have gained from my professors and peers during my time at the UO. I am so excited to make the most of this life-changing opportunity and participate in important health research."

This year’s cohort will be traveling to Canada, Colombia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Scotland and Spain.

“I'm ridiculously excited to be able to spend the next year teaching, research and generally experiencing beautiful Bogota, Colombia,” Swerzenski said. “Beyond the food, music and people I plan to encounter, I'm hoping to continue my interest in media production through my work as an English instructor, specifically, how English as a second language education can be positioned not just as the acquisition of a skill, but also as a means for engaging cultural dialogue and understanding.”

The Fulbright program offers 8,000 grants each year for graduate study, research, lecturing or teaching. Recipients from the U.S. are able to study or teach abroad, and recipients from other countries come to the U.S. for their scholarship year.

The Fulbright program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, through annual appropriations from the Congress. Partner governments, foundations, corporations and educational institutions contribute additional support for the program.