Thirteen Pomona College recipients of the prestigious Fulbright fellowships are preparing to criss-cross the globe. Passports and awards in hand, these graduating seniors and one alumna will do research on independent projects or teach English.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is “sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries.”

Fulbright Fellowship Research Grants

Audrey DePaepe, a neuroscience major from Tualatin, Ore., will take her Fulbright to the Cognition & Brain Plasticity Unit of Barcelona in Spain and focus her research on Huntington’s disease. She plans to take Catalan language courses, play soccer and volunteer with the Catalan Association of Huntington’s disease to raise awareness and organize events for families affected by the disorder. After completing the fellowship, she hopes to teach English as a second language, apply to M.D./Ph.D. programs and continue with research in neurodegenerative disease or neurodevelopmental disorders.

Jack Gomberg, a neuroscience major from Chicago, Ill., will travel to Israel to explore the biopsychological effects of medical clowning on patient outcomes at the Rabin Medical Center through both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. On a previous visit to Israel, Gomberg led a circus workshop at a camp for children with mental and physical disabilities and he plans to return there. He will also work with the Israeli national gym wheel competitive team. Gomberg hopes to deepen his connection to his Jewish faith by learning more about Israeli culture, customs and history. In the future, Gomberg plans to become a pediatric neurooncologist and carry his medical clowning experience into his practice.

Laurel Hilliker, an Asian studies and history double major, from Pittsburgh, Penn., will go to Japan, intending to uncover the history of Zainichi Korean political activism within Osaka and Tokyo in the aftermath of the Pacific War. Hilliker will volunteer at an annual summer camp through the Korea NGO Center that provides instruction for local children in Korean traditional music, dance and language. After the Fulbright, she will apply for Ph.D. programs in modern Japanese and Korean history with plans to become a history professor.

Emily Rockhill, a biology major from Redmond, Wash., will conduct research in southern Brazil with the intention of assisting on a project at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul to identify and describe new species of crayfish of the genus Parastacus. While in Brazil, Rockhill would like to volunteer at local animal shelters and participate in athletic clubs. Upon her return, Rockhill plans to work toward a doctorate in biology, pursue research and work in education.

Elizabeth Sun ’17, a French major from Albuquerque, N.M., will study the teaching of English and French in Saarland, a region in western Germany that has historically been a space of French-German interactions.  She will interview foreign language teachers about a new regional French language policy and their views on how it will affect students' decisions to learn French and/or English. While in Germany, she plans to participate in a language exchange program through Saarland University. After completing the Fulbright, she intends to pursue a master’s degree in Europe, focusing on multilingualism and foreign language education.

Rory Taylor, an international relations major from Minneapolis, Minn., will travel to New Zealand. There, he will examine how the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples acts as a tool of legal advocacy for indigenous groups. To do this, he will look at the usage of the declaration both within Maori community advocacy efforts as well as at the Waitangi Tribunal, a commission of inquiry that makes recommendations on claims brought by Maori relating to legislation, policies, actions or omissions of the Crown that are alleged to breach the promises made in the Treaty of Waitangi. He also plans to take Te Reo Maori (Maori language) classes. After returning to the U.S., he plans to attend law school and study the intersection of international law and indigenous rights with the intention to embark on a career working on indigenous rights across the world.

Victoria Vardanega, an economics and Asian studies double major from Fair Oaks, Calif., will go to South Korea to research the relationship between the press and government and its effects on information dissemination and democratization since the end of the Korean War. She also plans to volunteer with different marginalized groups in Korea such as North Korean defectors and LGBTQ people. After the Fulbright, she plans to pursue an MBA with an international emphasis to combine her interests in business and global affairs and hopes to work in South Korea.

Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships

Don Chen, an international relations major from Normal, Ill., will teach in Taiwan. He plans to focus on storytelling by hosting exhibitions of family history projects by students and an oral history event featuring local elders in order to strengthen intergenerational ties. After the Fulbright, he plans to attend law school and practice public-interest law in Chinese-speaking communities in the U.S.

Lauren Callans, a neuroscience major from Ardmore, Penn., will teach in Estonia. In addition to her love for teaching, she wants to explore her heritage as a third-generation Estonian and share her American culture. She would like to work with the U.S. Embassy to volunteer with community-based health initiatives such as HIV/AIDS education and outreach. She also hopes to host movie nights, potluck lunches and dance parties for her Estonian students. In the future she intends to become a physician.

Minah Choi, an environmental analysis major from Olympia, Wash., will teach in Argentina. She hopes to contribute to the existing literature on Asian communities in Latin America. Through language study, she aims to help students  to discover parts of their cultural identity and experience broader perspectives on multiculturalism. She intends to gain a stronger understanding of the experiences of Argentinians outside of Buenos Aires and how the evolution of the Lunfardo dialect contributes to the development of the nation’s increasingly globalized identity.

Rhiannon Moore, a music major from South Pasadena, Calif., will teach in Malaysia. Her interest in that country is rooted in her love for Southeast Asian music and desire to explore Malaysian music, as well as her experiences through Pomona’s Asian American Resource Center (AARC) teaching English to Pacific Islander students in the Saturday Tongan Education Program. In Malaysia, she plans to combine her experience in teaching Western music with traditional songs that students may know from their families by forming a local music ensemble to perform for the community. After the Fulbright, she hopes to promote world music and diversity in music education in the Los Angeles area and apply to medical school.

Inga Van Buren, a molecular biology major from Portland, Ore., will teach in Taiwan. Drawing from her own multilingual background, she hopes to convey to her students the usefulness of being bilingual. Among other plans, she hopes to improve her Chinese, learn about the healthcare system and volunteer at a local hospital. After completing the Fulbright, she intends to go to medical school, become a physician and work with underserved immigrant patients. 

Erinna Woo, a computer science major from Scotts Valley, Calif., declined the Fulbright and accepted an offer at Google in San Francisco as a software engineer.