Fourteen Fordham students and alumni have been awarded prestigious Fulbright scholarships for international teaching and research next year, the University’s highest one-year total ever.

Awardees will travel to countries in Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Europe for 10 months of teaching and research, immersing themselves in new cultures. The University announced 12 Fulbright winners in early May; the number has now risen to 14 because awards have been granted to two of the four students who had been named Fulbright alternates.

“We are overjoyed that we have a record number of Fulbright awardees this year! It’s a testament to the outstanding work of our students and alumni, and the faculty and staff who support them,” said Lorna Ronald, Ph.D., director of Fordham’s Office of Prestigious Fellowships.

She noted that Fordham’s number of applicants has risen from 25 to 38 over the past two years. “We’re working hard to let all our students know that they can apply,” she said. “There is no GPA cutoff or ‘right’ type of student. Fordham students are interested in service, and many have studied abroad, speak multiple languages, or come from multicultural backgrounds, so they make excellent Fulbright candidates.”

In February, for the sixth time, the U.S. State Department recognized Fordham for being one of the colleges and universities with the highest number of Fulbright awardees.

A Focus on Immigrants and Refugees

Jennifer Espinal
Jennifer Espinal (Fordham graduation photo)

Jennifer Espinal, a Fordham College at Rose Hill graduating senior who grew up in the Bronx, is headed to Spain’s La Rioja province to work as an English teaching assistant. She hopes to expand her knowledge of Spanish—“I speak very ‘Nuyorican’ Spanish,” she joked—and learn more about the nation’s culture and its large refugee population.

Espinal eventually wants to become an attorney who serves immigrant families. She comes from one herself—her parents immigrated from the Dominican Republic. Her mother works as a custodian at the Rose Hill campus, and is looking forward to seeing her daughter become a first-generation college graduate at Fordham’s commencement on May 18.

“It’s definitely a very exciting and emotional moment for her, and my dad too,” said Espinal, who is double majoring in history and Latin American and Latino studies and minoring in political science.

Making Early Childhood Education Inclusive

Bailey Kaufman, a doctoral candidate at the Graduate School of Education and adjunct professor at the school, will be traveling to the Slovak Republic to study early childhood math instruction, as well as the cultural biases in educational materials that can hinder learning.

Bailey Kaufman
Bailey Kaufman (provided photo)

One aspect of her research is the bias in picture books used to teach math and how that makes them less accessible to children from the country’s Romani minority. Romani children are already marginalized, Kaufman said, noting that only a third of them are enrolled in early childhood programs, compared with the republic’s national average of 72%.

Based at the University of Prešov, she’ll work with European organizations seeking to improve early childhood education and build a comparative analysis. A question she hopes to answer, she said, is “how are other countries approaching mathematics in early childhood and training future teachers, and what can we take from that and bring to U.S. institutions of higher education?”

Studying National Identity in Wales

In addition to the 14 Fulbright scholarships, one student was accepted into a different Fulbright program, the highly competitive U.K. Summer Institute for first- and second-year college students. Mackenzie Saenz De Viteri, a CSTEP Summer Scholar and first-year student at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, will spend three weeks at Aberystwyth University in Wales.

She looks forward to learning directly about Wales’ history and identity, as well as how the country attained independence and structured its government, which may hold lessons for Puerto Rico, said De Viteri, an international studies and anthropology double major from Central Islip, New York.

Her interest is “taking examples from other parts of the world who have similar dilemmas and using that to help solve current issues,” said De Viteri, a first-generation college student who has family in Puerto Rico.

First-year student Mackenzie Saenz De Viteri, who won acceptance to the Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute, center, with (from left) CSTEP assistant director Michelle Santana, director Michael Molina, De Viteri’s grandmother, and CSTEP assistant director Shantay Owens
First-year student Mackenzie Saenz De Viteri, who won acceptance to the Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute, center, with (from left) CSTEP assistant director Michelle Santana, director Michael Molina, De Viteri’s grandmother, and CSTEP assistant director Shantay Owens

In addition to Kaufman and Espinal, 12 other students and alumni received awards from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program:

Caroline Albacete, FCRH ’21, from Pennsylvania, a member of the Honors Program who earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies, with minors in French and history, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to Colombia.

Michael Au-Mullaney, from the Bronx, a doctoral candidate in philosophy in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, received a research award for study in Denmark.

Richard (Ricky) DeSantis, from California, a doctoral candidate in philosophy in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, received a Fulbright-ifk Junior Fellowship for study in Austria.

Alexandra (Alex) Huey, FCRH ’23, from Florida, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science, with a minor in economics, received a Fulbright-CY Initiative Award to pursue a master’s degree in Paris, France.

Nathan (Nate) Johnson, LAW ’22, who is from New York City and earned a juris doctorate, received a Fulbright/Ulster University Award to pursue an LLM in Northern Ireland.

Kathleen Kye, FCLC ’22, from New Jersey, who earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and Spanish studies, with a minor in psychology, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to Argentina. 

Sophia Maier, FCRH ’23, from New York state, who earned a bachelor’s degree in American studies and will receive a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Education this spring, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to Spain.

Isaac Mullings, FCRH ’24, from the Bronx, a member of the CSTEP program who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, received a research award for study in Ghana.

Anna Nowalk, FCLC ’23, from Virginia, who earned a bachelor’s degree in theology religious studies with minors in philosophy and peace and justice studies, received a research award for study in El Salvador.

Christian Ramirez, FCRH ’23, who is from Minnesota and earned a bachelor’s degree in English and theology religious studies, with a minor in Spanish, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to Colombia.

Margaret (Daisy) Salchli, FCRH ’24, from Chicago, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, international studies, and Chinese studies, was awarded an English teaching assistantship to Taiwan.

Connie Ticho, LAW ’24, from Pennsylvania, received a research award for study in South Africa.

Two alumni are Fulbright alternates:

Hanif Amanullah, FCRH ’24, from Texas, who earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies with a minor in environmental studies, was named an alternate for a study and research award to Kenya.

Emilia Tesoriero, FCRH ’24, from Connecticut, who earned a bachelor’s degree in international political economy with a minor in Spanish, was named an alternate for an English teaching assistantship to Spain.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from an earlier version.

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Chris Gosier is a senior editor in the marketing and communications department and associate editor of FORDHAM magazine. He can be reached at (646) 312-8267 or [email protected].