Ten CLAS students earn national scholarships distinction


Melanie Meinzer, a Ph.D. candidate in political science, earned a Critical language scholarship, notably for the second time, to study Arabic in the Middle East. (Photo by Christine Buckley)

Ten students and alumni of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have been honored this spring with national scholarships and awards that will allow them to further their education both at home and abroad. Their interests span a wide array of disciplines, from chemistry and international relations to women’s issues and public health.

Doctoral student in anthropology Sara Ailshire has received a Critical Language Scholarship to study Hindi in Jaipur, India. Ailshire has traveled to Bihar in the past to research public health communication and community attitudes toward development, and to collaborate with India’s Population Council in gathering data on public health message diffusion and attitudes towards development.

Political Science Ph.D. candidate Melanie Meinzer has received a second Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic. She is currently a 2015-16 Boren Fellow, conducting research in the West Bank. Meinzer is developing a collaborative research project on Palestinian education, and she has also presented her research at the International Studies Association and Middle East Studies Association conferences. Meinzer’s future plans are to work as a refugee officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and to pursue academic jobs in Middle Eastern studies to continue her research on education, gender, and human rights.

ovian presenting

John Ovian ’17, a chemistry major, earned a Goldwater Scholarship for his commitment to research in environmental chemistry. (Photo by Sydney Lauro)

The Goldwater Scholarship for undergraduates in math, natural science, and engineering has been awarded to John Ovian ’17 (CLAS) and Cameron Flower ’17 (ENG). Ovian is an honors student pursuing dual BS / MS degrees in chemistry. After graduating, Ovian plans to enter a Ph.D. program in chemistry.

Nicholas Russo ’18, an ecology and evolutionary biology major, is a recipient of a Udall Foundation scholarship. The award is given to undergraduates for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to American Indian nations or to the environment. Russo came to UConn as a STEM Scholar with a background in environmental science and education, and has worked in the lab of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology professors Mark Urban and Morgan Tingley, as well as Carole Cheah at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Russo has also been very active with the Audubon Society and is president of UConn’s Birding Club.

Six CLAS students and alumni are finalists and winners through the Fulbright Program, a flagship international educational exchange program funded by the U.S. Government.

Carmen Britton, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, has been named a finalist for a research grant to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Her project aims to document the dynamics of people’s experiences within community-based rehabilitation programs in Colombo.

Anthropology Ph.D. student Michelle San Pedro has received a Fulbright grant to Nicaragua where she will investigate the relationship between midwives and pregnant women during prenatal visits in the city of Esteli. She also hopes to enhance mutual understanding between Americans and the people in Nicaragua as part of her experience.

fulbright finalists

Fulbright finalists at a campus awards ceremony. (l-r) Dominick Sansone ’15, Francine Quintino ’16, Meghan Brown ’16, Michelle San Pedro (GRAD), Jia Li Liu (GRAD) and Carmen Britton (GRAD).

Human Development and Family Studies Ph.D. Student Jia Li Liu will be going to Hong Kong through the Fulbright program. Her research examines both mother and teacher perceptions of shyness among Chinese immigrant children.

Undergraduate political science major Francine Quintino ’16 has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Grant. Quintino will be teaching abroad in Colombia after graduating from UConn this May. In the future, Quintino plans to pursue a graduate degree in higher education and student affairs, focusing on first-generation college students.

Alumna Cecilia Menendez ‘15 has been named a Fulbright Alternate for an English Teaching Assistant Grant to Andorra. At UConn, Menendez studied both French and Spanish. She plans to continue her education and earn a master’s degree in foreign language or bilingual education.

Molly Rockett ’15 is also an alternate for a Fulbright study grant to Royal Holloway College in the United Kingdom. While there, she plans to earn an MSc in Elections, Parties, and Public Opinion before returning to the U.S. This degree teaches students the reality of political representation and accountability and how political leaders and media shape public preferences, and prepares them for careers in government, NGOs, and research organizations.

Other UConn Fulbright finalists include Meghan Brown, a gradute student in curriculum and instruction in the Neag School of Education, and alumnus Dominick Sansone ’15 (CAHNR).

By: Sydney Lauro ’17 (CLAS)

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