In a record-breaking year, 13 USC College students and alumni named 2008–09 Fulbright Scholars.By Allison Engel
August 1, 2008
For the second year in a row, the bar has been raised on the number of Fulbright grants awarded to USC students.
A record-breaking 17 USC scholars have been notified that they have won the grants for 2008–09 — the largest number, 13, going to students and alumni with majors or minors in USC College. Fifty USC students applied for the honor, and 22 were selected as finalists, a 50 percent rise over last year’s number.
The grants are for one year of study and/or research that can be pursued in more than 140 countries. This year’s group, which includes graduating seniors, Ph.D. students and 2007 graduates, will be traveling to Korea, Tunisia, Spain, Nicaragua, Brazil, Guatemala, China, Japan and Turkey.
University officials were thrilled with the news.
USC Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Jackson said that the record number of scholars “is further evidence of just how much USC has improved under the leadership of President Steven B. Sample, Provost C.L. Max Nikias and our outstanding deans and faculty. The university is attracting incredibly bright and accomplished students who are taking full advantage of the university’s outstanding academic programs and vast array of co-curricular offerings.”
Noosha Malek, interim director of academic recognition programs, said that efforts have increased over the past few years to publicize the Fulbright grant, which has resulted in a rising number of applicants. The rigorous Fulbright application review process spans an academic year, she noted, so when students receive grant offers “we are proud, congratulatory, grateful, elated and mostly excited to see their long-running efforts come to fruition. We are particularly pleased with the outcome of this year’s competition!”
This year’s Fulbright recipients with majors or minors in USC College are:
Marina Brenden ’08, who received a B.A. in English and political science. She will spend a year as an English teaching assistant in Korea and hopes to participate in organizations that focus on human rights, poverty and political accountability in South Korea.
Bonny Chan ’08, who received her degree in biological sciences with a minor in cultural competence in medicine. She will spend a year in Taiwan examining the cultural attributions of schizophrenia through family intervention and education programs in Taipei. Chan is especially interested in the relationship between the perception of mental illness and the traditional beliefs and values of the Taiwanese people.
Christen Farr ’07, who received her B.A. degree in international relations and French with a minor in Arabic and Middle East studies. She will travel to Tunisia, where she will study how employment in a foreign firm affects women’s outlooks concerning gender, family, community and employment outside of the home.
Michelle Hawks ’08, who received her B.S. in health promotion and disease prevention studies with a minor in psychology. Hawks is headed to Nicaragua to explore the health literacy of women related to the screening and treatment of cervical cancer. She is particularly interested in discovering the various social networks women use as a means of support and gathering information in order to improve public health.
Danielle Mascareñas ’08, who received her bachelor’s in biological sciences with a minor in Spanish. She will travel to Spain to study the micromechanics of the airway smooth muscle cell and its role in lung cancer and asthma. Mascareñas plans to use innovative techniques such as traction microscopy to further understand cytoskeletal dynamics.
Duyen Nguyen ’08, who earned a master’s in economics. She will spend a year in Vietnam examining a firm’s decision to go public and its implications in the financial market. Nguyen is particularly interested in how firms react to the regime shift that has increased regulation and required disclosure of information.
Nisha Parekh ’07 has progressive B.A. and M.A. degrees in international relations with a minor in Spanish. Parekh will spend her year in Brazil examining the work card system utilized in the Brazilian labor market. She will focus on how the system serves as a means of discrimination, particularly against nonwhite Brazilians of low socioeconomic status.
Adriana Resendez ’08, who picked up her bachelor’s in American studies and ethnicity with a minor in psychology and law. She is headed to Guatemala to examine the role of the Historical Clarification Commission in restoring human rights for Mayan women after the civil war.
Lana Shamma ’08, earned her master’s degree in public diplomacy, a joint program between the College’s School of International Relations and the USC Annenberg School for Communication. Shamma is headed to Jordan to examine the country’s film-related partnerships with the United States that are used to promote public diplomacy between the two nations. She has a specific interest in how programs focusing on cultural diplomacy impact Jordanian society.
Meher Talib ’08, who received a B.A. in international relations. She will travel to Tunisia to explore how the music scene reflects the local culture and Western influences. Talib is interested in tensions that exist as a result of merging the two cultures and whether the change in music mirrors the change in society.
Jack Tseng, currently working on his Ph.D. in biology. He will spend the year in China conducting a comparative study of Chinese and North American extinct carnivores to understand the ecological changes that occurred as a result of the climate change.
Benjamin Uchiyama, a Ph.D. candidate in history. He will travel to Japan to study how that country’s mass media promoted empire-building and the national mobilization project during the 1930s and early 1940s. He is interested in examining the complexities and tensions of state-society relations in wartime Japan.
Candace Weddle, a Ph.D. student in art history. She will spend a year in Turkey conducting research on “The Sensory Experience of Cult in Late Antique Asia Minor,” specifically the Roman imperial cult in the first through fourth centuries A.D.