Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

Fulbright Scholarship

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for United States students to undertake international graduate study, advanced research and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.

2016-17 undergraduate Fulbright semifinalists, finalists & alternates

Max Carey - Alum, Linguistics

Finalist, Mexico

Max graduated from the UW’s Romance Linguistics program in December 2015. As a Post-Baccalaureate student, he conducted research on Spanish-speakers’ acquisition of certain English consonants and the language attitudes to Spanish held by its speakers in Washington State. Max had the opportunity to present his research at the UW’s 5­­th Annual Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium and the Cascadia Workshop in Sociolinguistics. Currently, he works as an Associate Spanish Teacher and a part-time ESL teacher in the Seattle area.

Before coming to the UW, Max became interested in linguistics and Spanish through a variety of experiences both at home and abroad. After minoring in Spanish at Western Washington University, Max participated in the North American Language and Cultural Assistants program in Almería, Spain, worked as an ESL instructor to adults in Mexico City, and led trips of high school students to Latin America. These experiences are what provoked his interest in linguistics.

By pursuing graduate programs in Mexico, Max hopes to gain the requisite knowledge to pursue a career that widens the American perspective of Latin America and fosters intercultural understanding. He hopes to accomplish this by applying linguistic theory to language learning, for example, by creating pedagogical materials that are optimized for students with particular language backgrounds and make us of Computer Assisted Language Learning. This could include anything from a flash card application that contains high-frequency false cognates between English and Spanish (English ‘actually’ ≠ Spanish ‘actualmente’) to lesson plans for Spanish classes that contain multimedia materials with a healthy balance of different dialect regions. In addition, Max is interested in experiencing with simultaneous bilingual instruction, that is, concurrent English instruction for Spanish-speakers and Spanish instruction for English-speakers followed by interactive activities. In addition to applied linguistics, Max is also interested in learning more about theoretical linguistics.

Kevin Celustka - Senior, International Studies

Alternate, Uganda

Kevin has been selected as a finalist for the Fulbright US Student Research Program. If selected, he will spend a year in Kampala, Uganda, studying the influence of viruses on the development of cancers at the Hutchinson Center Research Institute Uganda.

Kevin is a Senior, majoring in International Studies in the Jackson School Honors Program. Kevin is also pre-med, and plans to apply to medical schools after a gap year focused on research.

Throughout Kevin’s four years at the UW, he has been involved in student government and research. Kevin served on the leadership of the ASUW Student Senate for three years, and currently chairs the Provost Advisory Committee for Students. Kevin also works at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and participated in the Fred Hutch Summer Undergraduate Research Program in 2016. For the past three years, Kevin has also volunteered as a mentor in the UW Leaders program.

Kevin hopes to help shape a more equitable world at the intersection of research and policy, and  the Fulbright US Student Research Program would take him one step closer to this goal.

Molly Herbert - Alum, Law, Economics & Public Policy and Global Studies (Bothell)

Semifinalist, India

Mollie Holmberg - Alum, Biology

Semifinalist, Canada

As a Fulbright Scholar at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia I hope pursue an MA in Geography where I will study the ways human governance and economic systems influence the circulation of capital and living beings in the context of zoos, agriculture, and wildlife refuges. Canada is notable among developed nations for the portion of its economy comprised by agriculture, forestry, fossil fuel extraction, and mining, contributing globally significant exports in all these sectors.  Its large swathes of wilderness and rich environmental history also make it an ideal setting to study how these settings transform through commodification. By studying contemporary and historical land use commodity chains in Canada, I will gain a richer understanding of the issues than I could by conducting this research elsewhere. This work will propel me through a PhD and eventually professional scholarship in geography that I will use to help scholars, policymakers, and the public recognize the lands and peoples with which their lives are bound and grasp how global economic systems and the narratives people tell about them both create and confound these bounds.

As I pursue my graduate work at UBC, I also plan to spend time getting to know the people and geographies of British Columbia through recreation and volunteer work. As an avid biker, cycling will allow me to explore the Vancouver region more extensively than I would be able to on foot and more intimately than I could by car. Although British Columbia has one of the smallest Francophone populations of all Canadian provinces, I also hope to continue improving my French language skills and familiarity with francophone cultures by volunteering with Le Centre Culturel Francophone de Vancouver, an organization that hosts language courses and francophone art and cultural events in Vancouver, BC.

Sofiya Idris - Alum, Society, Ethics, & Human Behavior and Health Studies (Bothell)

Alternate, Kenya

Benjamin Lee - Alum, International Studies, Chinese

Finalist, China

Benjamin Lee graduated from University of Washington in June 2015 with highest honors in Chinese and International Studies. He studied under the departmental honors programs at the Jackson School and the Asian Languages & Literatures Department.

During his junior year, Ben studied abroad in National Taiwan University as a Boren Scholar. He studied Mandarin, Taiwanese politics, and cross-strait relations. He also received the UW Presidential Scholarship for the 2014 – 2015 academic year, which funded his senior honors research project that compared how democratization in Taiwan and South Korea affected cross-Strait and inter-Korean relations. Ben presented his research findings in three different undergraduate conferences in Seattle, Cheney and Seoul.

In November 2014, Ben participated in in Strait Talk, a student conference on cross-Strait relations at Brown University. He worked as the Editor in Chief of the consensus document, which listed proposals from U.S., Chinese and Taiwanese delegates on how to maintain peace across the Taiwan Strait. Ben was also one of three undergraduate Young Global Leaders at the Slade Gorton International Policy Center, where he was awarded the Sally Gorton Leadership award for his preparation of a policy table with former U.S. Ambassador to China, Gary Locke.

After graduation, Ben worked at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as a junior fellow for the Asia program. He assisted senior scholars’ research on security issues in US-China relations and published several articles for the Diplomat. For the 2017-2018 academic year, he was awarded the Fulbright Research and Study Grant to China to conduct research on cross-Strait relations. Eventually, Ben would like to work in the government where he can contribute to American foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific.

Sopeck Nop - Alum, Computer Science and Systems (Tacoma)

Finalist, Cambodia

Sophie Nop (Computer Science & Systems, BS ‘16) has been offered a grant from the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program to Cambodia for 2017-18. She will be spending a year in Kralanh, Cambodia and plans to work with a local NGO on a participatory research project: Her goal is to better understand how mobile app development can advance digital literacy in rural areas, and how Cambodian youth interact with technology. Huge congratulations to Sophie and to everyone who’s taught, inspired, and supported her during her time at UW Tacoma.

While at UW Tacoma, Sophie served as ASUWT president from 2015-16 and was reognized in the inaugural Husky 100 cohort. She also founded UW Tacoma Dreams Big — a technology conference to encourage everyone, especially women and people of color, to pursue STEM careers.

Alexandra Piunti - Senior, Scandinavian Studies

Finalist, Latvia

Alexandra was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. An avid language learner, Alexandra spends much of her free time improving her skills in Latvian, Lithuanian, Korean, Spanish, and Russian. After studying abroad with AFS in Latvia as a senior in high school, Alexandra moved to Scotland, where she studied International Relations at the University of St. Andrews and competed with the university’s ski team. In 2016 she transferred to the University of Washington and focused her studies on the politics, societies, and defense of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia as a Scandinavian Studies major with a Baltic focus. Inspired by her time in Latvia, where she was exposed to the country’s thriving BMX culture, Alexandra’s Fulbright research centers around the history and impact of BMX on the community of Valmiera and the relationship between grassroots and elite sports and development. She plans to return to UW’s Scandinavian Studies Department in the future as a graduate student, and pursue a career as a Baltic scholar.

Joshua Remillard - Senior, Politics, Philosophy, & Economics (Tacoma)

Semifinalist, Germany

Caleb Smith - Alum, International Studies

Semifinalist, Chile

Caleb is a builder, thinker, truth-seeker, fact-gatherer, and self-taught web designer. A true native of Seattle, Caleb loves the outdoors and a good down jacket. When he isn’t working, his bags are packed and he’s on the move. This eagerness to experience the world led him to pursue a degree from University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies.

During his time at UW, Caleb spent a semester abroad in Geneva, Switzerland studying multilateral diplomacy and sustainable development. While there, he conducted research for the Global Institute for Water, Environment, and Health on the utility of private sector investment in alleviating environmental crises. This research led Caleb to develop an intense curiosity for clean technologies and how they can be used to overcome social and environmental challenges.

The following year Caleb participated in a task force researching approaches to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. His section of the report evaluated current development practices in South and Southeast Asia and identified strategies for reforming aid practices to better assist in promoting economic development and protecting the environment.

After graduating, Caleb worked as the Washington Policy Associate for the Seattle-based clean energy economy nonprofit, Climate Solutions. There he served as the lead analyst for legislative and regulatory policy development covering state and federal climate policy, clean energy, carbon markets, utility regulation, and transportation fuels.

Most recently, Caleb has been working as a research partner with a cohort of urban sustainability professionals, developing a report identifying pathways to improve the efficacy of urban climate action programs.

Caleb also serves on the board of the nonprofit New Dawn Guatemala, an organization that works to foster ecological sustainability, economic vitality, and educational advancement in rural Guatemalan communities. In 2016, Caleb traveled down to Guatemala with a film crew to collect footage for a documentary film about the economic, political, and environmental pressures inflicting these communities.

Olivia Smith - Senior, Sociology

Finalist, Mexico

Olivia Smith is a soon to be graduate from the University of Washington with a degree in Sociology, and a minor in Spanish. Throughout her time in college, Olivia has been heavily involved with First Year Programs, where she served as both an Orientation Leader and FIG Leader, as a mentor through the UW Dream Project, and the Black Student Union, in which she served as the president during her senior year. After having her first experience abroad in Spain, through a summer study abroad program, Olivia hoped that she would once more have the opportunity to explore worlds outside of the US. Combining her yearn to travel and her passion for education, Olivia is excited to pursue an English Teaching Assistant Grant through Fulbright. Through this Fulbright opportunity in Mexico, Olivia hopes to make valuable connections with students, as well as strengthen her sense of cultural awareness and competency, that will furthermore translate to her future experiences within education. Upon returning from Mexico, Olivia hopes to attend graduate school, where she can receive a master’s in education or teaching.

Connor Tsuchida - Senior, Bioengineering

Alternate, Cyprus

With a high school math teacher and a university biology professor as parents, I’ve always known the importance of both education and educators. Seeing as educators develop the next generation of great minds, ideas, and innovation, my hope is eventually teach and lead a research laboratory at the university level. I’m currently in Dr. Ying Zheng’s lab where my research focuses on developing a renal cell carcinoma kidney-tumor-on-a-chip to recapitulate tumor-induced angiogenesis. The goal is to develop a microphysiological model that better simulates the human microenvironment in order to more efficiently test developing cancer therapeutics. Outside of research, I am deeply involved in student leadership as the President of the UW Chapter Biomedical Engineering Society and Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Denatured Journal. In whatever spare time I have, I love to travel to new places, try new cuisines, and go to sporting events around Seattle. After graduation I plan to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Engineering in order to continue to develop as a researcher. After graduate school, I hope to pursue a professorship and be a leader in the classroom and the laboratory.

Elizabeth Wu - Alum, Drama & English

Semifinalist, United Kingdom

Raven Yee - Senior, Social Welfare

Semifinalist, Kosovo