Fordham students in 2014 continued a tradition of academic excellence, taking home more than 100 national and international academic, cultural, and service-oriented awards. As of June 2, this scholarship season has included twelve Fulbright awards, a Gates Cambridge award, and a Truman scholarship among its honors.

According to the Office of Prestigious Fellowships, which is celebrating its 10th year, more awards are likely to come.

“Fordham students have had a fantastic year in fellowship competition, continuing to win major fellowships nationally and internationally while breaking into new areas of expertise,” said John Ryle Kezel, Ph.D., director of prestigious fellowships.

Nikolas Oktaba
Photo by Thomas Stoelker

Nikolas Oktaba, FCLC ’15, a classical civilizations and classical languages major, won the Beinecke Scholarship, which will enable him to continue to study how ancient people’s social construction of sometimes painful questions of identity have an impact on social and religious life in late antiquity.

The Greek lyric poet Sappho, who was born on the island of Lesbos in 625 B.C., is a perfect example; Oktaba notes that over the millennium, she has been characterized as a chaste school mistress, a homely spinster, or a saucy lesbian.

“I would like to show people that the classics are more than lifeless ruins and broken statuary. I would like to give students the ability to engage with these sometimes painful questions of gender, sexuality, and identity as a whole, in a deeper, more meaningful manner.”

Jeffrey Lockhart
Photo by Janet Sassi

Jeffrey Lockhart, FCRH ’13, GSAS ’14, is the recipient of the Gates Cambridge award, a highly coveted scholarship won by just three other members of the Fordham community since its inception more than a decade ago. This fall, he will pursue a master’s in philosophy on at Cambridge University’s multidisciplinary gender study program.

This was the second time he applied for the award, and for Lockhart, a computer science master’s student and a women’s studies/computer and information sciences undergraduate, it was worth another shot.

“It’s just so perfect for what I already wanted to do and what I’m hoping to do. It’s designed to support people who want to be in the academy and want to do academic graduate work, but who also want to make an impact on the real world by working for the improvement of the lives of others,” he said.

At Cambridge, Lockhart plans to research how advocacy around discrimination and violence, which were key organizing principles for the LGBTQ community in the 1980s and 1990s, is changing—as assimilation and marriage issues are becoming the dominant social and political goals of the gay agenda. In the fall of 2015, he’ll be pursuing a doctorate in sociology at the University of Michigan.

Charlie Martin
Photo by Patrick Verel

Charlie Martin, FCLC ’14, was named one of six inaugural composition fellows at the Dulwich International Music Academy in Beijing this June, as well as a Gould Composition Scholar at the European American Music Alliance in Paris this July.

Martin, a music and philosophy double major from Atlanta, is one of the first Fordham students to take advantage of the University’s cooperative activities with the Juilliard School, where he took a number of classes .

His classmates there introduced him to the New York Youth Symphony, where he landed a conducting apprenticeship, and learned of the fellowships that will both serve as “boot camps” and ideally help him gain admission to a conservancy for master’s studies.

“I came to New York City drawn to the Catholic, Jesuit setting, the fact that it’s in New York, and the possibility of the Juilliard connection,” he said. “So far all three of those angles are really flourishing for me.”

Sama Habib
Photo by Patrick Verel

Sama Habib, GSB’ 14, won the Pamela Harriman Fellowship from the U.S. State Department, and will be working at the U.S. Embassy in London this summer. Habib, a marketing major specializing in international business and a political science minor, emigrated with her family from Egypt when she was five. She is planning to become an ambassador.

“When I came to America, I was fascinated with how different cultures interacted and how even though we were all different, we were able to co-exist peacefully,” she said.

“At that time, there were massacres of Christian minorities in Egypt, and I’m a Coptic Christian, which is part of that minority. I have been given an amazing opportunity to be in America, to be Coptic, to be able to live freely and to be a woman who has the same opportunities as men.”

Habib has been accepted into Columbia University’s School of International Political Affairs, where she plans to pursue a master’s degree in peace and conflict resolution and security.

Nora Dwyer
Photo by Patrick Verel

Nora Dwyer, FCLC ’15, a social work major, won a Truman Scholarship in part because of her work on behalf of the homeless. A native of South Berwick, Maine, she was used to helping the small homeless population there. Last May, she founded the Student Coalition for Street Outreach, which visits people living on the streets of New York and provides food and a sympathetic ear. The group has served 750 meals so far.

“When I moved to New York, I was just really disturbed by the disregard thegeneral public has toward this massive problem,” she said.

The scholarship will enable her to get a master’s in social work upon graduation next year, and she hopes to eventually get a doctoral degree. A willingness to improve conditions in society was key to winning the scholarship, she said.

Other prestigious scholarships won this year include:
-Eleven Fulbright fellowships as of May 12, awarded to:
Pedro Cameselle, GSAS ’16, to Uruguay for his project “The Forgotten Neighbor: The Challenge of Uruguay-US Relations during the FDR Era.”
Molly Clemens, FCLC ’14, to Australia for her project “Utilizing Evolutionary Resilience to Promote Biodiversity”
Daniel Davies, LAW ’14, to the Netherlands for his project “Law and Politics of International Security.”
Henrique DeAgular Valim, FCLC ’14, to Germany, for his project “The role of the plant circadian clock in mediating competition within monocultures”
Mary Hamilton, FCRH ’14 to Taiwan for her project “Ancient Sailing Techniques among Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples”
Taylor Jacob, FCRH ’14, to the United Kingdom for her project “Conscientious Objection and Christian Obligation in Women’s Healthcare”
Alexander Levine, FCRH ’14, ETA to India
Leila Nabizadeh, GSE, 14, ETA to Malaysia
Catherine Paul, FCRH ’13, ETA to Malaysia
Kyle Shook, GSE ’17, ETA to Poland
Matthew Sinise, GSB ’14, ETA to Argentina

-A Fulbright-Clinton Fellowship to Matthew Solomon, LAW ’14, to Myanmar (pending placement)
-A Boren Fellowship to William Spisak, GSAS 16’ to Morocco
-A DAAD-Rise scholarship to Daniel Brauer, FCRH ‘15
Clare Boothe Luce scholarships to Julia Getsos, FCRH ’16 and Jessica Timko, FCRH ‘16
-A Clare Boothe Luce Research scholarship to Stephanie Giordano, FCRH ‘17
-A Clare Booth Luce Fellowship to Chelsea Butcher, GSAS ‘20
-A German Chancellor Fellowship to Maria Anokhina, GSAS ‘13
-A James Madison Fellowship to Connor Quinlan, FCRH ‘05, GSE ‘11


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.