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CLAS Students, Alumni Recognized with Competitive National Awards

students talking

Critical Language Scholarship and Newman Civic Fellowship recipient Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS) talks with 2017 Goldwater Scholar Tyler Daddio ’18 (ENG, CLAS) at a recognition breakfast hosted by the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships on Thursday, April 19. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

This spring, 14 students and alumni from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have earned highly-competitive national scholarships, fellowships, and awards that will help them enhance their educations and careers through advanced study in the U.S. and abroad.


Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS) received both a Critical Language Scholarship and a Newman Civic Fellows Award. Chittibabu studies biology, global health, and Spanish, and her primary interests of study focus on the disparities in access to healthcare both domestically and abroad.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a fully funded language and cultural immersion program that aims to broaden the education of Americans studying languages and build relationships with people around the world. Chittibabu has been selected to study Korean at the Chonnam National University in Gwangju, Korea.

The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports community-committed students who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. During her time at UConn, Chittibabu has volunteered with the Office of Community Outreach, UConn Global Medical Brigades, and UConn Collegiate Health Service Corps. Her goal is to continue research and service work by implementing further measures helping improve community health education in rural areas in India.


Tyler Daddio ’18 (ENG, CLAS), a junior mathematics and computer science and engineering major, was awarded a 2017 Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences, and engineering. To support their research, scholars receive one or two-year awards that cover the cost of their tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. Daddio was recognized for his work creating a three-stage bioinformatics pipeline to aid in the design of personalized cancer vaccines.


History major Elizabeth Charash ’18 (CLAS) has been awarded the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which is given to students seeking careers in public service. Charash studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, where she worked with community members in an area with high levels of gun violence. Her time in Cape Town is one of the many experiences that shaped her current research on the differences in urban and suburban gun violence prevention policy and activism.


group of students

From left to right, 2017-2018 Fulbright award winners Marissa Piccolo ’17 (CLAS), Lara Hawley ’17 (NEAG), Margo Bailey ’17 (BUS), Catherine Han ’17 (CLAS), and Sylvia Cunningham ’15 (CLAS). (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

Four CLAS students and alumni earned awards from the Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. The program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Journalism and political science alumna Sylvia Cunningham ’15 (CLAS) has received the Young Professional Journalist Grant to Germany. Cunningham spent her undergraduate career working at WHUS and the Daily Campus, and after graduation she joined the NBC Universal Page Program. After gaining further experience with news organizations in Germany, her goal is to become a political reporter.

Catherine Han ’17 (CLAS) has received the English Teaching Assistant Grant to Mexico. Han, who studies biology and English and tutors at the UConn Writing Center, will work in an English-language learning classroom abroad. She ultimately hopes to attend medical school in order to work in public health for a medically underserved, urban area.

Political science alumna Tiffany Murphy ’12 (CLAS) will be teaching abroad as a recipient of an English teaching assistant grant to Morocco. Murphy has worked for United Way, AmeriCorps, and the New Haven Board of Education as a literacy and ESL tutor. Her goal is to earn a master’s in social work and start a career in immigration and refugee services.

Marissa Piccolo ’17 (CLAS) has received a grant to study at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she will enter its master’s program in legislative studies and practice. As a political science and economics dual major, Piccolo has spent most of her undergraduate career pursuing research and public service experience. After studying politics in Ireland, Piccolo hopes to attend law school in the U.S. and ultimately run for public office.


Seven CLAS students and alumni were recently named to the NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowships Program, which recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees.

The winners include: Ecology and evolutionary biology Diler Haji ’17 (CLAS) and chemistry major John Ovian ’17 (CLAS), both current undergraduate students; Hannah Morrow and Meaghan Perdue, both Ph.D. students in the Department of Psychological Sciences; and alumni Andrea DiVenere ’15 (ENG, CLAS), a chemical engineering and molecular and cell biology major; Anton Gudz ’15 (CLAS), a chemistry and Spanish major; and Milod Kazerounian ’14 (CLAS), a cognitive science major.

By: Combined Reports


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