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Nine Villanovans Awarded Prestigious Fulbright Scholarships

Villanova University is one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Scholars

2015-2016 Fulbright winners

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Nine Villanovans have been selected to receive 2015-2016 Fulbright U.S. Student Grants as a part of The Fulbright Program, a prestigious international education exchange program sponsored by the United States government. These grants will allow the Fulbright Scholars 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. Last year, 14 Villanovans received Fulbright U.S. Student Grants.

All nine of the University’s 2015-16 Fulbright recipients hail from Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). Cristina Rocca ’15 CLAS has been awarded a 2015-2016 Fulbright Full Grant to pursue independent post-baccalaureate-level research in Mexico. The remaining eight Villanova students have been awarded Fulbright Teaching Assistantships (ETA) to teach English to non-native English speakers. The Fulbright awardees and their destinations are as follows: Brigid Connolly ’15 CLAS, Costa Rica; Shondaray Ducheine ’15 CLAS, Greece; Tiffany Ferrette ’15 CLAS, Colombia; Rachel Finkelstein M.A.’15, Mexico; Bridget Kiley B.A. ’13, M.S. ’15 CLAS, Greece; Richard Packer ’15 CLAS, Turkey; Janine Perri ’15 CLAS, South Korea; Savannah Trifiro ’15 CLAS, Indonesia.  

“I could not be more proud of our outstanding record of success in the Fulbright US Student Program,” said Adele Lindenmeyr, PhD, interim dean, Villanova University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  “This year’s impressive and diverse group of successful Villanova applicants to the Student Program demonstrates the high level of motivation and the excellent academic preparation that characterize students at Villanova in general and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in particular.”

The following are Villanova’s 2015-16 Fulbright Recipients:

  • Brigid Connolly, of Omaha, Neb., will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Cultural Studies. She is a member of both the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and National Collegiate Honors Society. Connolly is a Catholic Relief Services Ambassador, the executive director and president of the Spanish Club, a Global Key Ambassador for the Villanova Office of Education Abroad, and a member of Villanova’s Academic Integrity Board. She spent the spring 2013 semester studying in Costa Rica. For her Fulbright ETA, Connolly will return to Costa Rica to teach English.
  • Shondaray Ducheine, of New Britain, Conn., a Villanova University Presidential Scholar, will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Studies and Education. Ducheine is president of the Villanova University Gospel Choir, a chair of the Martin Luther King Day of Service Committee, a Service Learning Tutor, and she is currently a Head Resident Assistant. She spent the spring 2014 semester in Greece, and will return to the country for her Fulbright ETA to teach English.
  • Tiffany Ferrette, of Charlotte, N.C., is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Spanish. Ferrette is a recipient of the Rev. John M. Quinn, OSA Endowed Scholarship for Philosophy, and a member of the Villanova Faith and Learning Scholars Program. She is the founder and president of the Edward Collymore Senior Honor Society, the president of the Villanova Ablaze Dance Team and a member of the Executive Board of the Black Cultural Society. She interned with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and held a teaching internship with the Freedom School Partners. For her Fulbright ETA, Ferrette will teach English in Colombia.
  • Rachel Finkelstein, of Villanova, Pa., will graduate with a Master of Arts in Hispanic Studies. Finkelstein is a 2012 graduate of Union College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language/Literature and Psychology. She taught high school Spanish for a year at Merion Mercy Academy in Merion Station, Pa., and has served as an interpreter at a law clinic at the Villanova School of Law. Finkelstein is vice president of Villanova’s Sigma Delta Pi National Hispanic Honor Society and served as president of the Spanish Club at Union College. She will teach English in Mexico for her Fulbright ETA.
  • Bridget Kiley, of West Hartford, Conn., is graduating with her Master of Science degree in Counseling.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, Philosophy and Psychology from Villanova in 2013. Kiley has served as a counselor intern at Cristo Rey High School and the High School of the Future, both in Philadelphia. She is a Graduate Resident Director for Residence Life at Villanova, a member of the Chi Sigma Iota International Honor Society, a former Villanova Ambassador and a New Student Orientation Counselor. Kiley studied abroad in Ireland during summer 2011. For her Fulbright ETA, she will teach English in Greece.
  • Richard Packer, of Westborough, Mass., will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arabic & Islamic Studies and Global Interdisciplinary Studies. Packer worked as research intern at the Moshe Dayan Center in Tel Aviv, Israel during the summer of 2014 and has been an emergency medical technician for Villanova EMS since 2011. He studied abroad in Jordan during the fall 2012 semester, in Egypt during the summer of 2013, and in Oman during the spring 2014 semester. Packer will teach English in Turkey for his Fulbright ETA.
  • Janine Perri, of Holbrook, N.Y., will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History. Perri is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honors societies. In 2014, she was awarded the Connelly Delouvrier International Scholarship for study abroad in the United Kingdom. She is a member of the Villanova Orchestra and is the founder and editor-in-chief of Forum, a scholarly student journal. Perri was also editor-in-chief of The Villanova Times from 2011 until 2014. She will spend her Fulbright ETA teaching English in South Korea.
  • Cristina Rocca, of Atlanta, Ga., a Villanova University Presidential Scholar, is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. Rocca spent the spring 2014 semester studying in Argentina and held a research internship at the Aliarse Foundation in Costa Rica during the summer of 2013. She is a Catholic Relief Services Ambassador, is co-president of the Villanova Community Garden, a member of the Omicron Delta Epsilon International Honor Society for Economics, and the Order of Omega honor society. Rocca held an internship with Women’s Campaign International in Philadelphia in 2014. During her Fulbright Full Grant, Rocca will hold a Binational Business Internship in Mexico.
  • Savannah Trifiro, of Centerport, N.Y., will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and Cultural Studies. During her time at Villanova, Trifiro served as a New Student Orientation Counselor, a Special Olympics Committee Assistant, and a CIEE Study Abroad Alumni Ambassador. She was inducted into the Sigma Delta Pi National Hispanic Honor Society and was a member of the Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity. Trifiro spent the 2013-2014 academic year studying abroad in Spain, and she has also studied in Egypt and Tunisia. For her Fulbright ETA, Trifiro will teach English in Indonesia.

“It has been another exciting year for Villanova’s nationally competitive scholarship recipients,” said Jane Morris, Director of the University’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.  “Once again, Villanovans have excelled in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, with nine of our students awarded Fulbright Grants for 2015-16.  Villanova will be well-represented around the globe by these amazing scholars who will be taking with them the values of Veritas, Unitas, and Caritas that mark their Villanova education.”

In addition, the following three Villanova students were named 2015-2016 Fulbright alternates: Taylor De La Pena,’15 CLAS, ETA in Argentina; Gabriel Molina, ’14 BA, ’15 MA CLAS, ETA in South Korea; and Filip Stransky, ’15 CLAS, ETA in Kazakhstan.

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 160 countries worldwide. Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 360,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

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 six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies 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.