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Pomona College Class of 2012 and Recent Alumna Awarded 15 Fulbright Fellowships

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Chirp! We have added more alumni who have received Fulbrights. Read aobut them at the end of this article.

Fourteen graduates of the Pomona College Class of 2012 and a recent alumna were awarded prestigious Fulbright Fellowships to pursue independent research or teach English around the globe. In addition, three members of the Class of 2012 were selected as Fulbright alternates.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is “sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between people of the U.S. and the people of other countries.” Over the last five years, graduating Pomona College seniors have been awarded 71 Fulbright Fellowships. Over the last 10 years, graduating seniors have been awarded 126 Fulbrights.

Fulbright Fellowship Research Grants

  • Anjali Cera, a neuroscience major from San Francisco, Calif., will go to Montreal and conduct research on the consequences of chronic stress experienced by caregivers of individuals with mental illness. “This stress may significantly impact caregivers' own mental and physical health as well as that of their children,” says Cera. Post-Fulbright, she plans to pursue a career in public health and/or medicine. 
  • Stephanie Roman, a double major in gender and women’s studies and history from West Covina, Calif., will travel to Mexico City to study obstacles to project implementation in women’s organizations. “Working together with Semillas, Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer, I will focus on identifying the major obstacles that Semillas' grantees face in project implementation and goal achievement through in-depth interviews and a survey of this year’s grant recipients in Mexico City,” explains Roman.
  • Erin Phelps, a sociology major from Bellevue, Wash., will travel to Kathmandu, Nepal, and conduct a qualitative study on the children of Nepali labor immigrants. “My research will involve interviews with children whose parents leave Nepal to work abroad and support their families… to find out how transnationalism and labor migration impacts family structures and children's social experiences.” Following the Fulbright, she hopes to stay in Nepal and work on issues related to sustainable development.
  • Jake Schual-Berke, a chemistry major from Normandy Park, Wash., will go to Manila, the Philippines, to research the quantitative and qualitative effects of small-scale solar power projects in rural Filipino villages as a means for powering fundamental technology. “In the Philippines,” he explains, “one in four people lack access to electricity, leaving them without necessities such as lighting, communication and health care.”
  • Kun Wei Song, a neuroscience major from Cupertino, Calif., will travel to the University of Geneva, in Switzerland, “to conduct research on neuroimaging using electroencephalogram (EEG) and MRI [technology] to look at fluctuations in neuronal networks, that reflect certain brain states, and how that corresponds to cognition. In particular, I think I'm going to be using EEG on patients under anesthesia.” When she returns to the U.S., she plans to begin medical school and continue research in neuroscience.
  • Sarah Burgess ’09, from Washington, DC, majored in religious studies at Pomona. She has since earned a master's degree in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge, where she wrote her thesis about African migrants' experiences with HIV services. Currently in New York City, she works on a maternal health program for the international non-profit EngenderHealth. During her Fulbright, she will study how Fula women in Niger make choices about where and when to seek maternal health care to gain an in-depth understanding of the social, economic and logistical factors that enable a woman to give birth safely. Her research will take her to the urban capital, Niamey, as well as the rural region of Dosso.

Fulbright Binational Internship

Emilio Medina, an economics and Spanish double major from South Pasadena, Calif., received a Fulbright Binational internship. Under this program, which focuses on building interpersonal relationships between future Mexican and U.S. business leaders, he will work full-time at a Mexican company or NGO and take graduate courses in business and finance at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México during the evening. Following the program, he plans to earn and M.B.A. and pursue a career in finance.

Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships

  • Sara Anderson, a chemistry major with a Spanish minor from Dickinson, ND, will teach intermediate school students in Indonesia and plans to work with students in after school programs focusing on art and athletics, while studying the Indonesian language. Following the Fulbright, she plans to pursue her interests in public health and education.
  • Asha Gipson, a psychology major with an Africana studies minor from San Diego, Calif., will teach English to students ages 11-19 in Nymburk, Czech Republic. A former Sagehen basketball player, she will also teach basketball. When she returns to the U.S., she will attend Columbia University’s Ph.D. program in social-organizational psychology.
  • Carolyn Hite, a German studies and economics major from Buffalo, NY, will teach English at the high school level (gymnasium) in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, and teach English as a third language to adult Turkish-German immigrants. Following the Fulbright, she will spend two years in the Teach for America program.  
  • Thomas Meyer, a Russian and East European studies and sociology double major, from Bernville, Penn., will teach high school students in Razgrad, Bulgaria. His service project will be based in teaching tennis to those who would not normally have access to the sport.
  • Kelly Park, a chemistry major from Fullerton, Calif., will teach in South Korea. Following the Fullbright, she plans to attend graduate school.
  • Lauri Valerio, an English major with a Spanish minor from El Paso, Texas, will teach in Argentina and record oral narratives through volunteer work. Following the Fulbright, she plans to apply her experiences in Argentina to a career in journalism, writing on education policy, immigration reform and Latin American politics.
  • Maria Whittle, a Russian major from Falls Church, Va., would have taught university students in Chelyabinsk, Russia, but has turned down the Fulbright for a job opportunity in Germany. On her return to the U.S., she plans to enter a Ph.D. program in Slavic studies with the goal of becoming a professor.
  • Felix Zhang, a double major in public policy analysis and German from Fairfax, Va., will teach high school students in Germany and hopes to start a program to bring American students and expatriates to German classrooms to discuss American culture, particularly underrepresented minorities that may not match German students' perceptions of the "typical American.” After the Fulbright, he plans to apply to law school or a master’s program in international relations.

Fulbright Alternates

  • Gabriel Friedman, a neuroscience major from Skokie, Ill., would conduct psychology research in Finland.
  • Ilona Kats, a neuroscience major from Brookline, Mass., would conduct a medical science research project in Germany.
  • Kori Van Der Geest, a chemistry major from Albuquerque, NM, would teach English in Nepal.

Alumni awarded 2012-13 Fulbright Fellowships

  • Eleanor Hughes ’11, who double majored in environmental analysis and politics at Pomona, will travel to Gujarat and Rajasthan, India, where she will document the incorporation of courtyards and jali (latticed screens that allows airflow) to examine the relationship between the varied climate zones of India and the rich diversity of residential architectural forms. Currently in San Francisco for an AmeriCorps year, she also works at the clean energy focused non-profit Bay Area Climate Collaborative.
  • Krista Jones '99, a Pomona biology major from Concord, Mass., received a Fulbright research grant to study the spread of Anaplasmosis, a tick-borne illness of humans and other animals, in Scandinavian carnivores and its potential population effects. She will be based in Evenstad, Norway.
  • Raymond Lu  '11, a Pomona international relations major who is completing a fellowship at the Carnegie Endowment's Asia Program in DC, was offered  a Fulbright research grant to Guangzhou, China for 2012-2013. His project would have examined how provincial authorities have selectively liberalized the NGO sector as part of a larger "social management" drive, whereby officials form strategic partnerships with NGOs to address the concerns of restive populations and defuse potential sources of unrest. He declined the grant for the opportunity of working as a research associate at the Yale China Law Center in Beijing, collaborating with Chinese scholars and officials on legal reform projects. 
  • Sharon Miriam Ross '01, who majored in linguistics and minored in biology, received a Fulbright post-doctoral fellowship to go to the University of Haifa in Israel, where she will study semantics and focus on Israeli Sign Language and possibly in other indigenous sign languages. She completed an M.A. In linguistics at Ohio State University, where she is currently working on a Ph.D. After the Fulbright, she would like to teach at a liberal arts college.

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offers a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research. Pomona College is the founding member of the Claremont Colleges.

 NOTE: Pomona College alumni who have received a Fulbright in this round, can contact Cynthia Peters ( to be included in a revised release on Pomona’s web.