May 13, 2004 • Volume 12 Number 17

Ten BC Students Earn Coveted Fulbright Grants

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

A rower who will study atmospheric chemistry in Germany, a peace-and-justice activist who will examine Mapuche Indian cultural influences on Catholicism in Chile, and a chemist who will research prospective heart-disease treatments at the University of Paris are among Boston College's 10 Fulbright winners this spring.

In another banner spring for German Studies, four Fulbrights have been won to Germany and one to Austria. It is the fifth year in a row students prepared by one of the university's smallest departments have won five of the coveted grants for post-baccalaureate study abroad. [More on German Studies' success]

Fulbright winners were asked to describe their research projects and to mention BC teachers who have provided inspiration. The following capsules were drawn from their responses:

Sarah Fox '04, a dual major in Political Science and German Studies from Lake Forest Ill., will go to Berlin to research the political and social status of second-generation Turkish immigrant women. She hopes on her return to pursue a master's degree in international law and diplomacy. Inspirational teachers: Prof. Michael Resler (German Studies) and Assoc. Prof. Rachel Freudenburg (German Studies).

Taylor Healy '04, a German Studies and English major and History minor from Atlanta, will study immigration policy at the Institute for Migration and Intercultural Studies at the University of Osnabrück in Osnabrück, Germany.

"I will be researching the effects of the 2004 eastern expansion of the European Union on Germany's immigrant and migrant demographics," she writes. "My study will also include research on how Germany's new immigration and migration policies affect refugees, asylum seekers, and the German workforce." She plans on her return to attend law school or to work in the areas of international politics and human rights.

Inspirational teacher: "Prof. Michael Resler, the chair of the German Studies Department, had talked to be about applying for a Fulbright ever since I first took one of his courses during my sophomore year. He encouraged me to study abroad during my junior year and read upwards of 10 drafts of my Fulbright application essays. Prof. Resler is the most influential and amazing professor that I have had during my four years at BC, and I would not have received this grant had it not been for his dedication and assistance."

Katherine Stainken '04, a dual major in Chemistry and German Studies from Hillsborough, N.J., who rows for the women's varsity crew, will study atmospheric chemistry at the Instituet fuer Meteorology und Klimaforschung in Karlsruhe, Germany. Her studies will build on research she has done under the guidance of Prof. Paul Davidovits (Chemistry) this year and the past two summers. She is considering graduate studies in the sciences on her return.

Inspirational teachers: "Prof. Michael Resler was extremely helpful in the application process, and as a friend, to offer his opinion on Fulbright project ideas. He's been a great mentor, as has Prof. Davidovits, who has also helped me to make some career choices that led me down the path to the Fulbright. "My rowing coaches, Steve Fiske and Jenn Green, have always been supportive in whatever I have done. I think rowing in general has given me the hard-working skills and leadership qualities that the Fulbright program is also looking for."

Caroline Kita '04, of Hamburg, N.Y., a History major and German Studies minor in A&S Honors, will study music and history at the University of Vienna and serve as a teacher's assistant in English at an Austrian secondary school.

Her research at the University of Vienna will build on her senior thesis on the metaphysical ideas behind the works of composer Gustav Mahler, focusing on the intellectual relationship between Mahler and the poet and journalist Siegfried Lipiner, credited with having introduced Mahler to the aesthetic philosophy and religious symbolism that find expression in the composer's music. She hopes on her return to pursue graduate studies in history. Inspirational teachers: "Prof. Michael Resler in German Studies: Without his guidance I never would have even considered applying for the fellowship. Adj. Asst. Prof. Jeremiah McGrann (Music), my thesis advisor in the Music Department, was an incredible source of support and inspiration."

Elizabeth Paulhus '04, of Wheeling, W. Va., a Theology major and History minor in A&S Honors who has sung with the Liturgy Arts Group and the University Chorale and been a student panelist for the Church in the 21st Century Project, will study German immigration law at the Centre for International and European Law on Immigration and Asylum at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

"I plan to examine whether an increase in naturalization would contribute to integration, peace, and stability in Germany," she writes. "Will the schism in Germany between those who are citizens and those who traditionally have been denied citizenship be mended by relaxing naturalization policies?" She is interested in pursuing graduate studies in law and diplomacy on her return, with the aim of working for an international refugee assistance organization such as the United Nations High Commission on Refugees or the Jesuit Refugee Service.

Inspirational faculty: "I would have to thank Prof. Michael Resler for his encouragement that began freshman year, and Flatley Prof. David Hollenbach, SJ (Theology), who served as my senior thesis advisor.

"On a more general level, I also have been inspired by the passion for teaching that Asst. Prof. Stephen Schloesser, SJ, exhibited in the many classes I was able to take with him. Whether discussing Fellini's Nights of Cabiria or the kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, Fr. Schloesser always made me excited to learn and to become as educated about the world as possible."

Sarah Berger '04, from Irvine, Calif., a History major and Latin American Studies minor in A&S Honors, who recently received the St. Ignatius Award for Student Involvement for her efforts in Campus Ministry, will go to Temuco, Chile, where she will study the enculturation of Catholicism with the Mapuche religion, and teach English at a university.

"The Mapuche Indians are the only existing indigenous tribe that is still living in Chile," she writes. "The leaders of their spiritual practices are women, the Machi. I am curious to know, in light of the predominantly male-dominated hierarchy of the Catholic Church, how much these women and their spirituality have affected the ways/laws/practices of the Catholic Church. What do the priests think about this?" Her senior honors thesis was a study of the devotion of Mexican American women to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and she plans on her return to pursue further research at the graduate level on the contribution of Mexican-American women to Latino culture. She has been active in organizing demonstrations at the former School of the Americas at Fort Benning in Georgia, and has served on the national advisory group of School of the Americas Watch.

Inspirational teacher: "My thesis advisor, Assoc. Prof. Cynthia Lyerly (History), has been a critical source of support in my ongoing pursuit to better understand history through the voices of the women I interviewed for my Honors thesis."

Rebecca Simmons '04, of San Jose, Calif., a dual major in Chemistry and French who is the 11th Presidential Scholar to win a Fulbright, will study organic chemistry at the University of Paris.

"I will be synthesizing a natural product that is a potent anti-aggregation agent and is therefore interesting as a prospective treatment for different heart diseases," she writes. On her return she will enter the doctoral program in Chemistry at Harvard.

Inspirational teachers: "My chemistry mentor, Prof. Amir Hoveyda, and a French professor, Assoc. Prof. Kevin Newmark."

Richard Sweeney, CSOM '04, of Tewksbury, Mass., a dual major in Economics and Political Science in the Carroll School Honors Program, will go to Prague to research the post-communist transition of the Czech beer industry. He will focus on the economics of the shift from communism to capitalism and the cultural implications of the European Union's expansion eastward.

"Who says hanging out at the bars too much takes away from academics?" writes the prospective brewing-industry scholar. "Just kidding, but I would like to say that sometimes people are too quick to dismiss leisure and nightlife as being unimportant. As an aspiring economist, I would like to point out that these are key aspects of culture and that they greatly contribute to people's happiness."

He plans on his return to work for Cornerstone Research, a Boston economic consulting firm, and in the future, to pursue a doctorate in economics.

Inspirational teachers: "I'd say my two biggest faculty influences have been Adj. Assoc. Prof. Richard McGowan, SJ, of CSOM and Adj. Assoc. Prof. Paul Christensen of the Political Science Department. Fr. McGowan has supported and helped me every step of the way, and is also my thesis advisor, which is related to my Fulbright project. Prof. Christensen's focus is on Russia and the Soviet Union and he is the person who really turned me on to the region. In addition to being the best lecturer I've had at BC (I took three of his classes), he also helped me out a lot during the application process."

Heather Stepanek '04 of Great Neck, N.Y., will go to Bulgaria to research citizen opinion on the proposed relocation of American military bases to the country.

Hyungsik Choi '03, a December graduate of the Carroll School, has accepted a Fulbright Teaching Grant to Korea.

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