Eight Wellesley College Students Win Fulbright Grants for Research and Teaching

For immediate release:
May 8, 2006
Arlie Corday

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Wellesley College seniors Sandra Ahn of Cambridge, Mass., Amanda Cotterman of Clearwater, Fla., Esther Han of Plano, Texas, Jenny Kim of Irvine, Calif., and Jessica Urban of Holliston, Mass., and 2005 graduate Cheryl Hojnowski of Richmond, Va., have been awarded 2006-2007 Fulbright full grants for international research projects. Seniors Jennifer Sohn of Granada Hills, Calif., and Maria Zade of Hingham, Mass., have received Fulbright English teaching assistantships in Korea.

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, gives students, scholars and professionals the opportunity to do international research, study or teaching. It was launched in 1946 after Senator J. William Fulbright presented a bill in Congress to use the proceeds from the sale of surplus war property for the “promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science.” The program awards about 1,100 grants a year and sends students to more than 140 countries.

Sandra Ahn, the daughter of Young and Chi Hun Ahn of Cambridge, Mass., has won a Fulbright full grant that will take her to Egypt. She will take courses in Islamic art and architecture at the American University in Cairo as well as undertake an independent study on the archaeological site at Fustat, the first Islamic capital in Egypt. She will also conduct research at the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo.

A classical and Near Eastern archaeology major, she applied for the Fulbright to “be a part of the dialogue of peaceful, cultural exchange between the United States and Middle East during these difficult times.” She has been an intern at the Ancient Egyptian department of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, at the Molecular Pathology Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and at the Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan. She has been an editorial intern at the Journal Watch publication.

Economics and Chinese studies double major Amanda Cotterman, the daughter of Bruce Wilson Cotterman of Atlanta, Ga., and Sandy Konrad Cotterman of Clearwater, Fla., will travel to Shanghai, China, on her Fulbright full grant. Cotterman spent junior year in Harbin, a city in northeast China, and last summer worked for Dow Jones Newswires in Shanghai. Through the Fulbright Program, she will work on research to help prevent a housing crisis that could adversely affect the Chinese economy. She will also take classes at Shanghai International Studies University. After her year-long Fulbright experience, she will work in Boston office of the investment bank Morgan Stanley.

“ I hope to return to China to continue my career,” she said of long-term plans. She has served as captain of Wellesley’s NCAA varsity swim team and has been a member of its NCAA varsity golf team, the Economic Student Association and the literary society Zeta Alpha.

Esther Han’s Fulbright Full Grant will take her to Shanghai, China. The daughter of Stephen and Mary Han of Plano, Texas, she will study in Shanghai and work in the province of Yunnan researching the epidemic of AIDS in China through ActionAID International. Han has earlier been awarded an Elizabeth Luce Moore Asia Internship to Shanghai with ORBIS, an international nonprofit organization that provides eye care in rural areas. She spent her junior year in Beijing. With her Fulbright grant, Han will take classes at Fudan University in Shanghai and work at ActionAid International in Yunnan to educate the public about HIV/AIDS.

An East Asian studies major, Han aims for a graduate degree in international public health. She is a member of Wellesley’s Chinese Students Association and has been an intern at the Autism and Research Foundation at Boston University Medical Center.

“ I am planning on returning to the United States after the fellowship ends and pursuing a master’s degree in public health,” she said, adding that she hopes “to work in an organization where people are just as passionate as I am about aiding the victims of HIV/AIDS in China.”

English major Jenny Kim, the daughter of Seong-Lin and Seo-Hwa Kim of Irvine, Calif., will conduct her Fulbright Full Grant research in Seoul, Korea, on urban literature’s impact on personal identity. Kim lived in Korea as a child, and an influential grandfather sparked her interest in learning how literature shapes a country and its people.

“ My desire to study Korean literature and people intensified through a conversation I had with my grandfather,” Kim said. “I knew that his hometown is Pyong-yang, North Korea, and that he had lived through the Japanese occupation of 1910-1945. He recounted how much he and his friends longed to speak and study Korean language and literature during the Japanese rule. He told me that one of the most painful and horrifying feelings was being conscious of slowly losing his own identity.”

In addition to her Fulbright-sponsored independent research, Kim will take courses at Yonsei University and Seoul National University. She plans to attend graduate school in comparative literature. At Wellesley, she has been president of the Asian Baptist Student Koinonia, a member of Model United Nations and a counselor at the Chinatown Afterschool Program.

Jessica Urban, the daughter of Maureen and Michael Urban of Holliston, Mass., has been awarded a Fulbright Full Grant to study in Costa Rica where she will work on research into the consequences of decriminalizing prostitution. She will work with Defensoria de los Habitantes, a women’s rights agency, and the University of Costa Rica, evaluating policies and ways of protecting women’s rights. She will also take classes at the university relevant to her research and will work with a local agency, La Sala, to interview and record the life histories of women.

“My project’s final stage will be the authoring of a booklet with my findings and conclusions, which will be revised and published by the Defensoria for subsequent distribution to the government and other interested parties,” she said.

She earlier completed internships in Costa Rica, in which she analyzed sexual harassment law, and with the League of Women Voters in Boston and the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha and was named All-American Attorney at the 2004 National Mock Trial Tournament.

Jennifer Sohn, the daughter of Ik and Jessica Sohn of Granada Hills, Calif., will travel to Korea for her Fulbright English teaching assistantship at a secondary school. She has taught English as a second language to Korean children in Los Angeles, and at Wellesley, she works at the children’s center.

Through summer work and volunteer efforts, she has been teaching for nearly two years. “Some of the students have been born and raised in America while some have only recently immigrated,” Sohn said. “As a Korean American, I have had the rare advantage of being familiar with both cultures, able to approach teaching in ways that best fit the cultures.”

A double major in English and cinema and media studies, she is interested in educational productions, having volunteered at KCET, the PBS affiliate in Hollywood, and served as an intern for “A Place of Our Own,” a bilingual television show.

At Wellesley, she has been a College Government senator, house president, WZLY radio station news director, student coordinator for Asian Awareness Month and helped to found the campus chapter of Circle-K, a community service organization. She has also been a First Year Mentor and vice president of administration in Freeman Hall.

Maria Zade, the daughter of Janet A. Zade of Hingham, Mass., will also conduct her Fulbright Teaching Assistantship in Korea. She will teach at an elementary school, building on previous teaching experience during her junior year in Paris, where she worked as an English language teaching assistant at a private school.

“ In my classes in Paris, I relied on demonstrations, pictures and using other words to help my students grasp a (new) word or phrase’s meaning,” she said. “This verbal acrobatics goes both ways, as I encourage my students to find alternative means of expressing themselves.”

She has been a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society, and has taken part in internships at WHDH-TV in Boston in the Special Projects Unit for health, at WTTW in Chicago as a news intern, as a campaign intern for the John Kerry for President Boston headquarters, as a legislative intern in the office of State Rep. Garrett Bradley and as an editorial intern at the Improper Bostonian newspaper. She has been assistant arts editor at the Wellesley College student newspaper and took part in Model United Nations. She plans to pursue a career in education.

Cheryl Hojnowski, the daughter of Karen and Michael Hojnowski of Richmond, Va., is currently living in Portland, Ore., where she is a program assistant at the Wild Salmon Center. She will use her Fulbright full grant in Russia, where she will work on protecting the natural environment of Siberia.

“As a Fulbright fellow I will focus my studies in Vladivostock, where I will be a student at the Environment Institute of Far Eastern State University,” she said. Hojnowski will study in the geography department and take part in a student group that coordinates environmental outreach programs. In addition, she will complete an internship at the Institute of Marine Biology, which conducts Russia’s leading marine research. She will help to monitor ecological conditions in the marine ecosystems of the Primorye region and conduct her own research project on the environmental history of Siberia.

Hojnowski graduated summa cum laude and with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Wellesley, where she earned a Davis Grant for summer study of the Russian language. She served as a research assistant in Wellesley’s Russian Department and as a teaching assistant for Russian language studies. She completed internships at the Baikal Environment Wave, in Irkutsk, Russia, where she taught ecology to elementary students, and at the Baikal Biological Station, where she translated museum texts and lectures. She contributed to the publication Ecosystems and Natural Resources of Mountain Regions, taken from the proceedings of the first international symposium on Russia’s Lake Baikal.

Each Fulbright award winner will leave this summer for a full year in her designated country. The Fulbright grant covers round-trip transportation, living costs, some research costs and, depending on the country, tuition.

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal-arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries. For more information, go to www.wellesley.edu.