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More Success in Fellowships

Boston College fellowship winners include (L-R) Corleone Delaveris, Frank DiRenno, Alexandra Moscovitz, Eleanor Hildebrandt, Cameron Givens, Victoria Mariconti and Enise Koc. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Office of News & Public Affairs |

Published: May 21, 2015

Boston College graduating seniors, current undergraduates and graduate students alike earned prestigious fellowships for the 2015-16 academic year.

These included nine Fulbrights, with an additional five students named as alternates, pending confirmation of funding for their projects; one of the alternates has since received funding through a fellowship from a private grant. The Fulbright awards support a year’s post-baccalaureate study abroad, and students typically pursue research in various disciplines, or serve an English Teaching Assistantship, through which they not only teach English language but also use the opportunity to provide insights about American culture.

Other awards of note have included Goldwater, Truman, Gilman and Boren scholarships, and a Rappaport Institute Public Policy Fellowship.

A look at Fulbright winners and alternates:

Andrew Babbitt
HOMETOWN: Hampden, Me.
DESTINATION: Guangzhou, China
PROJECT: Babbitt seeks to understand the Chinese approach to helping HIV/AIDS patients, and conversely, HIV/AIDS patients’ receptivity to medical services.  He hopes this understanding can help lead to an increased participation in testing and treatment. Babbitt will analyze both the NGO and government models and find ways for models to complement each other.
FUTURE PLANS: Will apply to a doctoral program in health policy, and hopes to pursue career with a focus on global health.

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to travel to Guangzhou to conduct public health research. In my time at Boston College, I have had multiple opportunities to travel to China and have been able to develop my interests in public health, particularly focusing on the social determinants of health. The Fulbright is an exciting opportunity to further explore these interests, and I am thankful for the help and support I have received from the BC community.”

Kristy Barnes
HOMETOWN: Plaistow, NH
DESTINATION: Switzerland
PROJECT: Since being named a Fulbright alternate, Barnes has received a fellowship through a private grant, enabling her to undertake her project. Using reconstructions of chironomid and beetle fossils from lakes within the Swiss Alps, Barnes hopes to confirm the validity of using past climate change as a basis for understanding effects of current climate shifts.
FUTURE PLANS: Graduate studies in geological and ecological studies; pursue career as professor and researcher.

“Boston College has given me the tools to ask deep questions, to explore my interests, and to make lasting connections. The purpose of the Fulbright is not only to conduct novel research, which the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department has certainly prepared me for, but also to create conversation and relationships within the host country. Boston College has given me the ability to do just that. Through its Jesuit mission, I have been taught the importance of authentic interactions and how to be present and attentive. It would be an honor to represent this University through the Fulbright Program.”

Daniel Cattolica (Alternate)
HOMETOWN: Fair Oaks, Calif.
PROJECT: English Teaching Assistantship
FUTURE PLANS: A master’s or doctoral programs in a still undetermined field, possibilities range from philosophy to Italian studies to comparative literature and to counseling psychology and therapy.

“The Fulbright ETA in Italy is both the perfect culmination of my academic and personal focus at Boston College –- exploring a country whose language, people, and culture have captivated me since I first visited it back in my freshman year –- as well as an ideal next step towards a future career.  Having spent nearly an entire year in Italy over the past three years between summer programs and the Fall 2014 semester at Parma, which culminated in a senior honors thesis on the detective novels of Sicilian-born writer Andrea Camilleri, my story with Italy has rewarded me with incredible experiences that continue to shape and inspire me as a person.  The story, however, is not over yet.  While I have enjoyed my time at Boston College and remain indebted to a number of friends, faculty, and mentors here, the Fulbright will provide me yet another opportunity to pursue my own connections and grow both as an intellectual thinker and as an individual.  More importantly, as an English instructor in Italy, I have the ability to give back some of the insight I have gained so far in my time abroad: the joy you receive in learning a different language and creating new relationships with others and with the world--in putting yourself out there--is worth the struggles you may face along the way.”

Paul Davey (Alternate)
HOMETOWN: Kansas City, Mo.
PROJECT: English Teaching Assistantship

Frank DiRenno
HOMETOWN: Crompond, NY
DESTINATION: Durham, United Kingdom
PROJECT: Pursue masters in archeological science degree, and hopes to develop knowledge of bone isotope chemistry to answer questions on the origin, diet and health of past populations.
FUTURE PLANS: Expects to apply to medical school.

“Apart from the opportunity to continue to study in a field that I’ve become passionate about at Boston College, I was really drawn to the Fulbright program’s emphasis on global exchange. Even though the UK is similar in many ways to the US, as I was preparing my application, I realized that there was still a lot I didn’t know about it. It made me that much more excited when I received the award that I would be able to learn more about a country and culture I had never experienced.
“I’ve enjoyed serving in the Boston community during my time at BC, and I hope to continue during my year in Durham. In terms of connections to my work at BC, I’ve actually had to do most of my research off-campus, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to study and do research at a single institution with the latest technology, as well as in a country with direct connections to the historical populations I would be interested in studying. My advisors here at BC, especially History Professor Robin Fleming, really encouraged me to pursue my unique interests, even if it meant going off campus, which I think has really set me up for a successful year of study.”

Martin Gamboa

PROJECT: English Teaching Assistantship
FUTURE PLANS: Graduate school

“Poland represents a great opportunity to examine a school system that has rapidly become one of the best in the world. My long-term goal of research on comparative urban education would be enhanced by comparing Polish urban schools to those in other parts of the world.”

Cameron Givens  
HOMETOWN: Hopkinton, NH
DESTINATION: Saxony, Germany
PROJECT: English Teaching Assistantship
FUTURE PLANS: Givens aims to continue his studies and pursue a doctorate in history, with a goal of teaching at the college level.

“Although my name may be the only one to show up as the grant awardee, there were so many people – friends, family and professors – without whom this would not have been possible, so I am beyond thankful that all of their hard work will allow me to pursue this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Eleanor Hildebrandt  
HOMETOWN: Mercer Island, Wash.
PROJECT: English Teaching Assistantship; she also plans to be involved with the community as a tutor and hopes to participate in cultural activities.
FUTURE PLANS: Considering graduate programs in English and international history and is interested in working in education in some capacity.

“The themes of education and development have come up over and over throughout my international studies courses at BC. I believe that a facility with English is not only a professional asset in such a globalized world, but can also help to build Nepali students' self-confidence. I'm honored and excited to join a new community and work to impart my love for the language.”

Maria Ireland (Alternate)
DESTINATION: Belfast, Northern Ireland
PROJECT: Ireland will pursue a master’s degree in legislative studies and practice at Queen’s University Belfast, which will include hands-on experience working with the Northern Ireland Assembly. She hopes to undertake a photojournalistic project documenting life in Belfast, and volunteering with reconciliation and peace-building organizations.
FUTURE PLANS: Work in public policy or diplomacy, then pursue a doctoral degree and supplement field work with a position in academia.

“I have learned to make connections, think critically, and ask good questions through my coursework at Boston College, although my experiences outside the classroom have impacted me just as profoundly.  Participating in various initiatives, such as the Arrupe International Immersion Program and National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference, have helped me develop strong values and skills of organization and leadership, while allowing me to see how the theories discussed in my courses play out in practice.  I look forward to putting all that I have learned at Boston College to good use in my future endeavors.”

Omar Khan [Alternate]
HOMETOWN: Portland, Ore.
DESTINATION: United Kingdom
PROJECT: Graduate study
FUTURE PLANS: PhD/MD program in oncology.

 “My core philosophy in applying for this program includes not only furthering knowledge of cancer for my future goals, but fostering personal growth through an interchange of ideas. I will not likely stop the tides of cancer, but I may make the barriers holding them back a little taller while also giving back to patients and the community.”

Victoria Mariconti
HOMETOWN: Wrentham, Mass.
PROJECT: English Teaching Assistantship; explore Polish musical traditions and styles.  
FUTURE PLANS: Will pursue graduate studies.

“I had two opportunities to study and live abroad while at BC. The first was two weeks in Perugia, Italy, through my Advanced Study Grant following freshman year; the second was a month-long course in Paris taken through the Arts and Sciences Honors Program. Urban Italian and French culture are not the most diverse international experiences to be had, but both were nonetheless educations in participation in, and cultivation of, respect for another way of life. Plus, both experiences were educations in the practical and logistic matters of living abroad with language barriers. I know I am better prepared for living in Poland next year because of these two opportunities.

“In general, my time and studies at Boston College has been defined by daily interaction with diverse people and ideas. At the same time, I have also been able to strengthen my sense of self and the idea of who I am and what I believe in. Boston College has prepared me for the Fulbright and life after by my leading me through the cultivation of a stable but flexible self that is hungry to continue growing through new languages and encounters.”

Siobhan O'Brien [Alternate]
HOMETOWN: Amherst, Mass.
PROJECT: English Teaching Assistant
FUTURE PLANS: If O’Brien receives funding for her Fulbright year, she hopes to stay in Germany to attend graduate school and pursue an advanced degree in international relations, with a goal of a career with the US Department of State in educational program development.

“A Fulbright award has long been my goal after graduation. It perfectly ties into much of the work that I have done at Boston College as an undergrad, but ultimately allows me to live in a country that I love, and to pass on my love of learning through the topic of culture and language.”

Alexandra Moscovitz

HOMETOWN: Guilford, Conn.
DESTINATION: Dominican Republic
PROJECT: Study comparative food security in rural and urban communities.
FUTURE PLANS: NGO project manager; graduate school.

“[This project offers] a first experience on the ground doing research and will enhance my knowledge of human security issues in order to participate in academic conversations regarding food security. The project will contribute to fostering an understanding of food security issues as well as spread knowledge about the agricultural practices and food culture in the Dominican Republic.”

Tashrika Sharma
HOMETOWN: Flushing, NY
PROJECT: Sharma will be working at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna to continue in the field of mathematical visualizations she started in her senior thesis, which consisted of visual models demonstrating foundational principals of knot theory, a branch of low-dimensional topology.
FUTURE PLANS: Graduate studies in pure mathematics or media arts and sciences.

“I am deeply honored that the Fulbright Program decided to support my research proposal. I hope to produce more sophisticated work to make me worthy of this opportunity as I represent my mentors and my family – the external foundations for who I am.”

Alexandra Rabasco is the first Boston College School of Social Work student to be awarded a Rappaport Institute Public Policy Fellowship, which provides a paid, 10-week summer internship in key Greater Boston area state and local agencies, to help encourage graduate students consider public service in their career plans. The Rappaport Institute is housed at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

Rabasco will work closely with the office of Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services and former BCSSW faculty member Marylou Sudders in its role heading up Governor Charlie Baker’s newly convened Opioid Working Group. State House data identifies opioid abuse as a growing problem in Massachusetts, where accidental overdoses from prescription drugs were up 46 percent in 2013 from the previous year.

For more on Rabasco’s fellowship, see

•  Corleone Delaveris ’15 has been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship that will support his graduate studies at Stanford University. [Read more at]

•  Gabelli Presidential Scholar Marissa Marandola ’16 was selected for a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which supports the graduate education and personal development of standout undergraduates committed to public service leadership. Marandola is a political science major with a minor in management and leadership from Cranston, RI, and a student in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program. [Read more at]

•  James Brogan ’16 was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, which are presented on the basis of academic merit to the country’s most promising college students in math, science and engineering. A native of Coral Springs, Fla., Brogan is a double major in physics and chemistry. [Read more at]

• Brogan also was one of three BC recipients of Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships, which provide upwards of $5,000. The program aims to diversify the population of students who study abroad, and the countries and regions to which they travel, by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate in these opportunities due to financial constraints. Brogan will travel to Peru, where he will study Spanish and work in local hospitals to develop his bilingual medical vocabulary.

The two other BC students to earn Gilman Scholarships were: Eleni Callas ’16, an Anaheim, Calif., native majoring in philosophy, will study intensive intermediate French in Bordeaux, France; and Jared Collier ’16, a linguistics major from Moab, Utah, will study colloquial Tibetan in Nepal at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute.

•  Enise Koc ’17, of Elmwood Park, NJ, who majors in Slavic Studies and Islamic Civilizations and Societies, has been awarded a National Security Education Program David Boren Scholarship, which encourage and support American students who wish to acquire skills and experience in less commonly studied languages and cultures. After a fall semester at Bogazici University in Istanbul through BC's program there, she will utilize the Boren Scholarship to study in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, during spring and summer 2016. She will learn intensive Bosnian with the American Councils for International Education while also doing research for her senior thesis.