Four UTSA students win Fulbright International Travel Awards | UTSA today | UTSA
JULY 6, 2021 – Four UTSA undergraduate students have received Fulbright US Student Program scholarships to travel to Germany, Spain and Belarus in 2022. This year’s UTSA winners are Amber chin, Psychology and English; Arlae Gamez Luna, Political science; Monica Guerrero, interdisciplinary study with EC-12 special school diploma; and Taylor Helmcamp, World events.
In addition to the winners, seven of the eight UTSA students who applied were recommended for the second round of the competition and three were named as deputies: Affiong Akpaninyang, Mariam Kerfai and Montana Meeker.
The Fulbright program is sponsored by the US State Department and is the flagship program for international educational exchanges. The program aims to improve mutual cultural understanding among peoples by sending a diverse group of US citizens abroad each year. More than 2,000 students each year are funded to travel abroad to graduate, do independent research, and teach English abroad.
You can find out more about the UTSA’s 2021 Fulbright Prize winners here:
As a graduate of the Top Scholar Program and the UTSA Honors College, Chin will travel to Germany to conduct research on social movements and political online discourses at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, where researchers focus on developing innovative methods for evaluating social – Have specialized in media data. There will be general elections in Germany next year, and Chin is looking forward to seeing the election year in the country.
“I am very fortunate to be able to participate in a program like Fulbright and I hope to be able to use this time to really connect with my host community in Rostock,” said Chin. “It is exciting to think that I will completely immerse myself in the region in which my research is located and that I can work with so many great mentors through the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.”
Chin was a research associate for a psychology professor at UTSA Michael Baumann in the Group Dynamics Lab and as a research assistant at a professor of political science Bryan Gervais in the UTSA Digital Politics Studio. In her second year at UTSA, she conducted research in Germany at the Georg Elias Müller Institute for Psychology at the University of Göttingen, which helped guide her research focus for the Fulbright grant application. She also enrolled in German courses at UTSA to prepare for the program.
Arlae Gamez Luna
Gamez Luna is a graduate of the Terry Scholar Program and UTSA Honors College. She also participated in the McNair Scholar Program and is an IES Pathways Fellow of the Institute of Education Sciences and a UTSA Mellon Pathways Fellow. Gamez Luna majored in political science and did research with a sociology professor Harriet Romo on refugees and migrants from the northern triangle countries Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
She also worked with a professor of political science Sharon Navarro, who was her mentor for her thesis “Immigrant Latina Women: A look Into Texas Political Rhetoric”. Gamez Luna herself emigrated to the United States from Mexico after serving 10 years as a nun for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary.
In Germany, Gamez Luna will complete an MA in international social work with refugees and migrants at the University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt. By combining her previous research and personal experience, she would like to learn more about the phenomenon of migration and get to know the international structures, actors and organizations that find suitable solutions for migrants and refugees.
Before applying for the Fulbright program, Gamez Luna was also named a 2019 Gilman Scholarship Holder to study abroad in Germany. However, since the global pandemic interrupted international travel, she took online courses at the Humboldt University in Berlin.
Erik Oviedo, the lead coordinator of the Terry Scholars program, shared how much Gamez Luna has made in the Terry Scholars and Honors College programs since arriving at UTSA.
“Arlae was an amazing person who embodied the Terry Scholar pillars of science, leadership, service and community,” said Oviedo. “Since she first arrived on campus, it was obvious that she was as real as she had come. Always anxious to improve herself and those around her, she tried to challenge and surpass anything that led her to leave her mark here at UTSA. We are very proud of her and are excited to see what she will achieve in the near future. “
Upon his return to the United States, Gamez Luna plans to earn a Ph.D. in international comparative education, where she will continue her community engagement and seek ways to influence local, national and international educational policy.
Spain (English Teaching Assistant)
Guerrero is a 2021 graduate of the University of Education and Human Development, where she studied interdisciplinary studies with a focus on special education. Like Gamez Luna, she was also named a Gilman Scholar in 2020 to study abroad in Spain. While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted her plans, she applied to the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program, which offers an internship in the same La Rioja region as her study abroad.
Guerrero grew up in Mexico and traveled every day over the Brownsville-Matamoros Express International Bridge to the school in Texas she attended. In her application, she described how she had a hard time getting used to because she couldn’t speak English. Her experience motivates her to become a teacher and ultimately pursue a career in consulting. She also said that her mother’s work as a teacher inspired her own level of education.
“Seeing my mother exceed her challenges, raise four children during her Masters degree, and exceed expectations of creating a better future for my sisters and me has helped me fulfill my teaching skills and desire to become someone better “Said Guerreroer said.
In Spain, she will pass this experience on to her English students and share with them her challenges as a language learner. She also hopes to learn how the educational system in Spain differs from that in the United States.
Belarus (English Teacher Assistant)
Helmcamp is a graduate of the Top Scholar Program and UTSA Honors College 2021. She studied Global Affairs with minor subjects in Russian and Linguistics. As a Bachelor, she studied abroad in four UTSA programs in Mexico, Germany and Switzerland, Russia and Italy. She participated in programs related to immigration, diplomacy, intensive language studies and mutual cultural understanding. After participating in these short-term programs, she spent a semester in Italy as part of the UTSA Urbino program.
As a student at Honors College, she also participated in a number of special programs, including Students and Startups, an online ESL teacher program, and the Archer Fellowship, where she interned with the US State Department. This combination of UTSA programming combined with her language studies made her particularly competitive for the Fulbright program.
Helmcamp applied for the English Teaching Assistant Program in Belarus to deepen her understanding of Eastern Europe beyond Russia. When planning a future career in diplomacy and energy policy, Belarus made sense as a destination because of its position as an energy hub between Russia and the rest of Europe. In addition to Fulbright, Helmcamp was also accepted into the joint UT Austin School of Law / MA in Russian and Eastern European Studies Program with a scholarship. She plans to specialize in international energy law in order to eventually work as a US sales representative on energy contracts in Eastern Europe.
Growing number of Fulbright receivers for UTSA
In the past two years, more UTSA students have received Fulbright Awards than ever before. This year’s results were the UTSA’s highest annual return when four students won awards in 2011. Despite the pandemic that has affected international travel, almost the same number of UTSA students have applied as last year. In 2020 UTSA had three award winners: Ana-Sofia Gonzalez (Colombia), Myat May (Malaysia) and David Diaz (Taiwan). While these students’ programs have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fulbright has made arrangements for students to continue scholarships in 2022 or years to come.
Andrew Chapman, Director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards and UTSA Fulbright Program Advisor, noted that UTSA’s continued success with Fulbright will result from a combination of campus support for the program to increase application numbers and students throughout the process support.
“Right now, there are about 10 students applying for Fulbright each year, but I’d love to see 50 apply,” said Chapman. “The Fulbright US student program fits our campus perfectly and gives students of all backgrounds access to international travel, even if they don’t have extensive travel experience. Programming in research, study and teaching can help advance the future goals of students, regardless of the course or university. The program was also fantastic for bringing students and faculty together to explore pressing global issues and engaging with communities around the world. “
When students fill out a Fulbright application, faculty advises them during a campus interview. This will help them prepare a competitive application that includes a personal statement and a grant proposal. This year the UTSA’s Fulbright Interview Committee consisted of lecturers and staff from across the university: Whitney Chappell, modern languages and literatures; Devon Donahue-Bergeler, modern languages and literatures; Seok Kang, Communication; Kristen Lindahl, bilingual-bicultural studies; and Maren Mitchell, bilingual-bicultural studies; participated to interview students and provide feedback