Eric Schneider, an aspiring diplomat, and Gabrielle Thurston, a language lover who wants to become a bilingual doctor, are among 10 Fordham students and alumni who were awarded Fulbright scholarships this year.
“Our students are curious and service-oriented, and at Fordham, they think deeply about justice and their place in the world,” said Lorna Ronald, Ph.D., director of Fordham’s Office of Prestigious Fellowships, adding that Fordham students are awarded Fulbrights every year. “We are excited to see our 10 Fulbright students continue to grow into global leaders through this transformative experience.”
From Long Island to Côte d’Ivoire
Schneider, a senior at Fordham College at Lincoln Center who earned his bachelor’s degrees in international studies and French and Francophone studies last February, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to Côte d’Ivoire. Schneider grew up in a predominantly white community on Long Island and said he’s enjoyed getting to know people from different backgrounds at Fordham. In his junior year, he took a Center for Community Engaged Learning course that sparked his interest in French-speaking countries in Africa.
“Through the Francophone Communities in New York City class, taught by professor Isaie Dougnon who is from Mali and was a Fulbright Scholar, I explored different West African immigrant neighborhoods, including those with people from Côte d’Ivoire. That’s where I learned about and became interested in Francophone Africa,” Schneider said. “After reading books in multiple French classes about Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire, I also learned that it’s a really cool cultural center.”
Throughout his four years at Fordham, Schneider also worked with children and teenagers at the nearby Lincoln Square Community Center, where he tutored students in English and mathematics through a work-study position with the America Reads and Counts Challenge program. He currently serves as a program director at the center.
This fall, he will work at a school or neighborhood center in Côte d’Ivoire, where he will teach English for nine months.
“I’m looking forward to teaching, exploring a different culture, and engaging with a demographic of people who aren’t like me but share common interests,” said Schneider, who plans to eventually attend graduate school and become a U.S. diplomat working with West African nations.
An Ohio Native with Teaching Experience in Kenya and Granada
Thurston, a senior in Fordham College at Rose Hill’s honors program who will be graduating this May with her bachelor’s degree in Spanish language and literature and minors in chemistry and biological sciences, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to Spain.
Thurston was born and raised in Ohio. During high school and college, she taught English to elementary school students in Kenya, immigrants in Granada, and Fordham undergraduates at home. “It’s wonderful to see the progress that I’m able to make with all of my students and to feel like I’m making a difference in their lives,” Thurston said.
While studying abroad in Granada as a Fordham student, she fell in love with Spain, its language, and the country’s “laid-back and community-oriented culture.” Through Fulbright, she found the perfect opportunity to return.
During the upcoming school year, she will teach English to elementary school students in the Canary Islands in Spain, where she will also practice her Spanish. After she completes her Fulbright, she plans to attend medical school and pursue a career as a bilingual obstetrician and gynecologist who works in Spanish-speaking communities.
“It’s one of the more interesting fields of medicine and generally a positive one. It’s also a field where the margins of care between white people and people of color, especially Black and Spanish-speaking patients, is really large, and I want to help to close that gap,” Thurston said.
In addition to Schneider and Thurston, eight other students and alumni were awarded Fulbrights:
- Briana Boland, FCLC ’19, who is originally from Colorado and earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies, was awarded the Taiwan National Chengchi University Award in Asia-Pacific Studies.
- Molly Gleason, FCRH ’21, who is originally from Rhode Island and earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental science, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to Indonesia.
- Rachel Irish, FCRH ’22, who is originally from New York and earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to South Korea.
- Megan Johnson, FCLC ’20, GSE ’21, who is originally from California and earned her bachelor’s degrees in humanitarian studies and Spanish studies and her master’s degree in bilingual childhood education, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to Ecuador.
- Anastasia McGrath, FCRH ’21, who is originally from New York and earned her bachelor’s degrees in international political economy and Chinese studies, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to Taiwan.
- Grace Powers, FCRH ’23, who is originally from Kentucky and will be graduating with degrees in sociology and history, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to Estonia.
- Madalyn Stewart, FCLC ’22, who is originally from Oregon and earned her bachelor’s degrees in political science and French and Francophone studies, was awarded a study/research award to France.
- Miguel Sutedjo, FCRH ’23, who is originally from New Jersey and will graduate with his bachelor’s degrees in international political economy and music, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to Taiwan.
Four students and alumni were also named Fulbright alternates:
- Dené Chung, FCLC ’21, who is originally from New Jersey and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science, was named an alternate for an English teaching assistantship to South Korea.
- Jillian Elba, FCRH ’23, who is originally from Massachusetts and will be graduating with her bachelor’s degrees in sociology and English, was named an alternate for an English teaching assistantship to Thailand.
- Emma Jane Konkoly, FCLC ’23, who is originally from Massachusetts and will be graduating with her bachelor’s degree in international studies, was named an alternate for an English teaching assistantship to Estonia.
- Alyssa Peralta, FCLC ’23, who is originally from Illinois and will be graduating with her bachelor’s degree in economics, was named an alternate for an English teaching assistantship to Mexico.