Exploring U-M’s Opportunities Around the World



Fulbrighters in the field: How did the grant change their lives?

February 25, 2016
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The University of Michigan’s success with Fulbright grants is largely due to fantastic students who are advised and inspired by the faculty and staff at U-M’s International Institute. Read about what just a few of the 29 grant recipients from U-M are doing with their Fulbrights in 2015-16:

John Doering-White in Mexico.

John Doering-White in Mexico.

John Doering-White in the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala
Earned master’s degrees in anthropology and social work and is currently in the joint doctoral program in social work and anthropology.

Project: “I am conducting ethnographic research on the experiences of undocumented Central Americans migrating through Mexico. Many of these folks hop freight trains to move up through Mexico. Since 2014, with pressure from the United States, Mexico has aimed to deter undocumented migration by keeping migrants off of trains. This has made the route much more dangerous. At the same time, throughout Mexico, a loose network of humanitarian shelters has developed along these railway networks, providing migrants with basic assistance and a safe place to sleep. My research focuses on how migrants, shelter workers and community members navigate these tensions between the protection and persecution of migrants in everyday situations.

How has your Fulbright grant changed your life?

“The Fulbright has provided me with the funding necessary to carry out a significant chunk of my dissertation fieldwork.”

Jessie Stoolman in Tetouan, Morocco
Earned bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Middle Eastern and North African Studies.

Project: “I’m looking at what it means to be of Andalusian descent in Morocco through music, film, art and literary history. My Fulbright research project problematizes notions of Orientalism by deconstructing images of the ‘self’ and ‘other’ in Moroccan national discourse.  Specifically, I focus on how ‘Andalusianess’ is negotiated in the Moroccan context to signify the ‘self’ and ‘other’ through individual interviews as well as examinations of regional music, literary, art, and film history.”

How has your Fulbright grant changed your life?

Jessie Stoolman

Jessie Stoolman

“I have always strived for opportunities to live and work abroad to achieve professional, academic and personal goals. Most fundamentally, I sought after the Fulbright grant because of my desire to learn more about the Mediterranean world, which has fascinated me since I was young.  Specifically, I have always been interested in the diverse communities that have inhabited the region throughout the years and how they have survived centuries oscillating between different forms of coexistence.  Upon completion of the Fulbright student research grant, I hope to continue living and working abroad through organizations that help empower local populations.  The linguistic, cultural, and academic knowledge I have acquired while working on my Fulbright will help me reach this goal.”

Sanjay Jolly in Quito, Ecuador
Earned a bachelor’s degree from the Ford School of Public Policy with a minor in biochemistry.

Project: “I am studying the growth of community media in the aftermath of a sweeping media reform law passed in 2013. One of the most important aspects of the law is that it provides unprecedented opportunities for civil society groups — churches, schools, activist groups, etc. — to start their own local radio and television stations. In collaboration with the Latin American Social Sciences Institute and various civil society organizations, my research focuses on the law’s implementation and what it means for the future of grassroots media in Latin America.”

How has your Fulbright grant changed your life?

“I don’t even have a graduate degree, and yet the Fulbright program is supporting me for a year-long independent research project. This kind of opportunity is so rare. Without Fulbright, I would never have been able to do something that even remotely resembles what I am doing now. There is of course the prestige of the Fulbright program, which I assume will be a professional asset when I come back to the U.S. But the benefits of Fulbright go far beyond research support and a respected credential. For example, one of the most rewarding aspects of being here is the diverse community of scholars associated with Fulbright, both Ecuadorian and North American. These are relationships that I expect to carry forward for many years, and through which I hope to maintain a longstanding personal and professional connection to Ecuador.”

Richard Boehnke in Delft, the Netherlands
Earned a bachelor’s of science in biochemistry.

Richard Boehnke

Richard Boehnke

Project: “I am focusing on the implementation and integration of sustainable energy technologies into the current energy paradigm. What I am particularly interested in is scaling the use of existing technologies and understanding how to best fit them — wind, solar, biomass, etc. — into or to take over current energy production of entire communities, cities and islands as opposed to a single home or building.”

How has the Fulbright changed your life?

“It was quite an honor to receive a Fulbright scholarship. While I have been interested in sustainable energy for a long time, I did not have the opportunity, until being offered a Fulbright, to pursue this field as a potential career. I am using the master program to build my understanding of sustainable technologies and as a focal point for my future career.”

Layne Vandenberg in Rio.

Layne Vandenberg in Rio.

Layne Vandenberg in Rio de Janeiro
Earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish, with a minor in global media studies.

Project:  “I am researching how the 2016 Olympic Games are impacting marginalized groups in Rio. My work focuses on two socially excluded groups: First, I am investigating how Olympic policy and preparation affects Rio’s urban poor, many of whom live in slums known as favelas. Within these policies, I will focus more specifically on police forces and policy created for the Olympics that primarily address “pacifying” the poor. My second involvement focuses on the disabled, a group often forgotten in Rio’s poor infrastructure that could be heavily impacted by the Paralympic Games in September. I will work with URECE Sports and Culture for the Blind, an organization that provides services, resources, and training for blind athletes involved in sports ranging from blind soccer, goalball, judo and swimming.”

How has the Fulbright grant changed your life?

“Receiving a Fulbright is a great honor because it provides me with the unique opportunity to conduct focused research alongside partners and organizations, and to work on specific projects with goals beyond the academic world or an academic product. In terms of my future, Fulbright gives me a space to experiment with and fail in my field of interest and see how development and sport can push positive change.”


U-M Fulbright information

Full list of top-producing institutions

U-M student and scholar grantees

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Blog: Fulbrighter researches flooding in Jakarta



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