Additional Villanovans Awarded Prestigious Fulbright Grant Brings University Total to Nine Fulbright Winners in 2013

Villanova University is one of the nation’s top producers of U.S. Fulbright Students

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Three Villanovans, in addition to the six winners previously announced in May, have been selected to receive 2013-2014 Fulbright U.S. Student Grants. The Fulbright Program is a prestigious international education exchange program sponsored by the United States government. The announcement brings the total number of 2013 Fulbright grantees from Villanova to nine, the largest number in a single year in the University’s history. The grants will allow the Fulbright students to serve as international cultural ambassadors by performing research or teaching English in foreign countries. Villanova, listed among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Students by The Fulbright Program, has had at least one student selected for the coveted scholarships each year since 1994.

Michael McKenzie M.A. ’13 LAS and Shannon Welch B.A. ’13 LAS have been awarded 2013-2014 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) to teach English in Brazil, and Russell Quiñones B.A. ’13 LAS has been awarded a 2013-2014 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) to teach English in Spain.

“The Fulbright program announced in May that there would be an additional 90 English Teaching Assistantships available for 2014, and we are delighted that Michael and Shannon were selected for this wonderful opportunity,” said Jane Morris, Director of the University’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. “We are even more thrilled that there will be three representatives of Villanova and Fulbright – including Nicholas Bailes – in Brazil as the country celebrates the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.  We are also very excited for Russell Quiñones to have the opportunity to return as a Fulbright ETA to Spain, where he studied abroad in his junior year,” noted Morris.

Michael McKenzie, of Washington, D.C., graduated cum laude from Villanova University in December 2012 with a Master of Arts degree in Political Science. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish, a minor in Luso-Brazilian Portuguese Language and Culture and a certificate in Western European Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. While at Villanova, McKenzie conducted research projects on various Latin American topics including, “Drug Cartel Violence, Law Enforcement Corruption and the Failing State: Mexican Nationals Seeking Asylum as ‘Narco-Refugees,’” which he presented at the Northeastern Political Science Association’s Annual Conference in 2012; “Vying for Economic Stability in the 1990s: Privatization of Brazil’s State-Owned Enterprises”; and “Regime Juxtaposition and Polyarchy in Mexico: An Analysis of Aguascalientes, Guanajuato and Tabasco.” From July 2011 – December 2012, McKenzie was an International Division Intern at ATD-American in Wyncote, Pa. where he researched the social and political climates of international clients and successfully initiated a manufacturing partnership with a Brazilian corporation. As an undergraduate student, McKenzie spent a semester abroad in Barcelona, Spain and then became a study abroad mentor at the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for International Studies upon his return to campus. He was also the Treasurer of the Resident Student Association. McKenzie is fluent in Spanish and has advanced knowledge of Portuguese. During his Fulbright ETA, McKenzie will teach English in Brazil.  

Shannon Welch, of Holden, Mass., graduated magna cum laude in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Honors, as well as a minor in Japanese. During the spring 2012 semester, Welch studied at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan and during the summer of 2011 she completed a Spanish language intensive program at the University of Cadiz in Cadiz, Spain. While at Villanova, Welch was a member of the Service Learning Community, the captain of the Wildcat Dancers and a member of the recruitment committee for the Villanova Service Council. She interned at the Villanova School of Law, serving as a Spanish interpreter for law students and their clients at the Law School Clinic. During the summer of 2012, Welch interned at Friends of Farmworkers, an organization that works to improve the living and working conditions of low-wage farmworkers, landscaping workers, and food processing workers in Pennsylvania. In this role she wrote legal documents, fundraising appeal letters, and promotional materials. Welch was inducted as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society in May 2013. In April 2013 she was awarded the Jerome J. Fischer Memorial Award by the Villanova English Department for the most distinguished essay written by an undergraduate student. She is nearly fluent in Spanish and proficient in Japanese.  During her Fulbright ETA, Welch will teach English in Brazil.  

Russell Quiñones, of Staten Island, N.Y, graduated magna cum laude from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Honors Program in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. He was the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Helen K. Lafferty Scholarship and was elected into Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. During the fall 2011 semester, Quiñones studied at the University of Alcalá in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. On Villanova’s campus, Quiñones was the Executive Director of the Villanova Spires and the Publicity Director for the Villanova Singers, two all-male singing groups. He was a member of the Blue Key Society, an Orientation Counselor and then a steering committee member for Villanova’s New Student Orientation Program, helping to train orientation counselors who would be working with incoming freshman students. During his sophomore year, Quiñones was a member of the Villanova Service Learning Community and mentored students at a high school in Philadelphia. Quiñones was a Special Projects Operations Coordinator and a Campus Campaign Manager for Teach For America, and worked with the REACH Program in New York City where he taught low-income, minority students at inner-city middle and high schools. During his Fulbright ETA, Quiñones will teach English in Spain.  

In addition, the following six Villanova alums were named 2013-2014 Fulbright grantees in May: Nicholas Bailes ’13 LAS, Fulbright Full Grant in Brazil; Michaela Gaziano ’13 LAS, ETA in Malaysia; Rachel Glogowski ’13 LAS, ETA in India; Michael Pflueger M.S. ’13 LAS, ETA in South Africa; Amy Richards ’10 LAS, ETA in Colombia; and Andrea Zinn ’13 VSB, ETA in Malaysia.

About The Fulbright Program: The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The Program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.