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Villanova Sets New University Record with 33 Students and Alumni Winning Prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Grants

Villanova Sets New University Record with 31 Students and Alumni Winning Prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Grants

VILLANOVA, Pa. – The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board has announced the Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards for 2019-20, with 32 Villanova University students and alumni winning the prestigious awards. This marks the largest single-year number of Fulbright awards in the University’s history, surpassing the previous record of 16 winners set in 2018-19. In addition to the 33 award recipients, seven other Villanovans were selected as alternates and 16 earned recognition as semi-finalists. Villanova has been listed among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Students for more than a decade and the University has had at least one student selected for the coveted award each year since 1994.

“Villanova’s record-breaking success in the Fulbright program demonstrates how committed Villanovans are to utilizing the experiences, knowledge and competencies gained while at the University to make a positive impact in the global community,” said University Provost Patrick G. Maggitti. “Congratulations to each of the Villanova students and alumni recognized by this prestigious program and to the dedicated faculty and staff who support our talented students throughout this process.”

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, offering students grants to conduct research, study, and teach abroad. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Fulbright recipients meet, work with, and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction in the classroom, field, home, and in daily tasks. These experiences allow the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think. Visit the Fulbright U.S. Student Program website to learn more.

The Fulbright competition at Villanova is open to all current undergraduate, graduate, professional students and alumni, and is administered by the University’s Center for Research and Fellowships (CRF). Students and alumni create an application for the fellowship program under the direction of the CRF team—which provides both one-on-one consultations and group support for throughout the application process, including conceptualization of projects, writing and revising proposals, and interview preparation and practice.

“This has been another banner year, with a record number of Fulbright Grant winners,” said Dr. Michael T. Westrate, Director of CRF. “These Villanovans have proven that they are among the best of the best. As Fulbright winners, they will contribute to even broader communities, becoming global leaders and joining Villanova’s long tradition of ‘Fulbrighters’ who are using their gifts to serve others. The recognition is strong external validation of Villanova’s exceptional students and alumni, our world-class academics and research, and our outstanding faculty and staff mentors.”

Villanova students and alumni interested in applying for external awards, including the Fulbright, should visit the CRF website for more information.

The 33 Villanovans awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Grants are:

  • Valeria Alvarado ’19 CLAS, History, English Teaching Assistantship in Serbia
  • Dana Avolio ’19 CLAS, Communication, English Teaching Assistantship in Malaysia
  • Alex Balawejder ’19 CLAS-Master’s, History, English Teaching Assistantship in Slovak Republic
  • Sarah Baranik de Alarcón ’19 CWSL, Law, Study-Research in Brazil
  • Kathleen Blehl ’18 VSB, Marketing, English Teaching Assistantship in Ukraine
  • Mackenzie Bowden ’20 COE-Master’s, Sustainable Engineering Study-Research in Indonesia
  • Claire Carey ’19 CLAS, Political Science, English Teaching Assistantship in Brazil
  • Margaret Carter ’19 CLAS, English and Spanish, English Teaching Assistantship in Spain (Galicia)
  • Ellie Cayer ’19 CLAS, Global Interdisciplinary Studies and Spanish Language & Literature, English Teaching Assistant in Colombia
  • Brianna Conte ’19 COE; Electrical Engineering, Bioengineering, Honors; English Teaching Assistantship in Italy
  • Devin Creed ’19 CLAS-Master’s, History, Study-Research in India
  • Elizabeth Cullen ’19 COE, Chemical Engineering, English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia
  • Emily DiMatteo ’19 CLAS, Honors and Economics, English Teaching Assistantship in Czech Republic
  • Angeline Gacad ’19 CLAS, Global Interdisciplinary Studies, English Teaching Assistantship in Malaysia.
  • Madiah Gant ’19 CLAS, Global Interdisciplinary Studies, English Teaching Assistantship in Colombia
  • Bridget Gile ’19 COE, Civil Engineering, Study-Research in Netherlands
  • Stephen Gironda ’19 CLAS-Master’s, Psychology and Brain Sciences, Study-Research in Italy
  • Pablo Guzmán Ruiz ’19 CLAS, Philosophy, English Teaching Assistantship in Brazil
  • Gillian Hixson ’19 CLAS, English, English Teaching Assistantship in Laos
  • Jamilah D. Jones ’19 CLAS, Global Interdisciplinary Studies, English Teaching Assistant in Brazil
  • Sophia Lockwood ’19 CLAS, History, English Teaching Assistant in Indonesia
  • Nawnora Manosca ’19 CLAS, English, English Teaching Assistant in Brazil
  • Jubilee Marshall ’19 CLAS, History, English Teaching Assistant in Czech Republic
  • Victoria Martin ’19 CLAS, Education and Social Justice, English Teaching Assistantship in Laos
  • Lucy Minicozzi-Wheeland ’19 CLAS, Global Interdisciplinary Studies, Study-Research in Ukraine
  • Lars Moeller ’18 CLAS, Political Science and Economics, English Teaching Assistant in Czech Republic
  • Briggs Mroz ’18 CLAS, Environmental Studies and Communication, English Teaching Assistant in Taiwan
  • Yvonne Nguyen ’19 CLAS, Peace & Justice Studies, Study-Research in Canada to earn a master’s degree in Labour Studies at McMaster University. Upon her return to the U.S., she will pursue a career in the field of international labor rights.
  • Elizabeth O’Brien ’19 CLAS, Environmental Studies and Philosophy, Study-Research in Philippines
  • Sydney Riley ’19 CLAS, Political Science and Philosophy, English Teaching Assistant in Czech Republic
  • Katherine Sepulveda ’20 CLAS-PhD, Philosophy, Study-Research in Belgium
  • Carolyn Silipigni ’19 VSB, Marketing and Business Analytics, English Teaching Assistant in Slovak Republic
  • Mary Spillane ’18 COE, Mechanical Engineering, Study-Research in Finland

For bios of Villanova’s 33 Fulbright winners, click here.

Villanovans recognized as Fulbright U.S. Student Alternates are:

  • Nicholas Carney ’16 VSB; Marketing, Peace & Justice; Study-Research in Spain
  • Kjersti Hansen ’19 CLAS-Master’s; Political Science; English Teaching Assistantship in Bulgaria
  • Claudia Macpherson ’19 CLAS; Biochemistry, English, Spanish Language & Literature; English Teaching Assistantship in Spain
  • Angelina Malenda ’19 CLAS; English, Public Administration, Gender and Women’s Studies; English Teaching Assistantship in Laos
  • Sean Murray ’19 CLAS; Political Science, Spanish Language & Literature; English Teaching Assistantship in Colombia
  • Kevon Turner ’19 CLAS; Communication; Study-Research in Finland

Villanovans recognized as Fulbright U.S. Student Semi-Finalists are:

  • Nicole Anderson ’19 VSB; International Business, Management, Global Health Study-Research in Indonesia
  • Kofi Asamoah ’19 CLAS; Biology, Psychology, Spanish Language & Literature; Study-Research in Chile
  • Sarah Burke ’18 CLAS; Global Interdisciplinary Studies, Political Science, Spanish Language & Literature; Study-Research in Hungary
  • Kimberly Dawes ’19 CLAS; Global Interdisciplinary Studies, Individually Designed Major, Global Health; English Teaching Assistantship in Macau
  • Maria Delgado Figueroa ’19 CLAS; Biology, Psychology, Spanish Language & Literature; English Teaching Assistantship in Spain
  • Patrick Flynn ’19 CLAS; Peace and Justice; English Teaching Assistantship in Greece
  • Liam Hoover ’19 VSB; Accountancy, Peace and Justice; English Teaching Assistantship in Taiwan
  • Ximena Jordan-Rojas ’19 CLAS; Biochemistry, Psychology, Italian; English Teaching Assistantship in Brazil
  • Viktoriya Kucherak ’19 CLAS; Political Science, English; English Teaching Assistantship in Ukraine
  • Julia Morris ’19 CLAS; Biology, Biochemistry, Psychology; Study-Research in Netherlands
  • Thomas Plonski ’17 CLAS; Computer Science; Study-Research in Poland
  • Michael Podgorski ’21 CLAS; Political Science and International Relations; English Teaching Assistantship in Germany
  • Gabriela Puche ’18 CLAS; Economics, Global Interdisciplinary Studies; English Teaching Assistantship in Paraguay
  • Vaidehi Shastri ’19 CLAS; Chemistry, Spanish Language & Literature; English Teaching Assistantship in Spain
  • Sarah Sprinkle ’19 CLAS; Individually Designed Major, Education; English Teaching Assistantship in South Africa
  • Taylor Wilson ’19 CLAS; Political Science, Sociology; English Teaching Assistantship in Bulgaria

About the Fulbright Program: Since its establishment in 1946, the program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Fulbrighters address critical global challenges in all disciplines while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States and the world.  Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 84 who have received Pulitzer Prizes and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.

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 M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit