News and Media
Oberlin Students and Alumni Awarded Prestigious Fulbright Fellowships
Jun. 09, 2011
Six graduating seniors and two recent graduates will spend the next academic year abroad pursuing independent study or teaching English while gaining a deeper understanding of their host countries as members of the 2011-2012 class of Fulbright scholars.
The Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program, is designed to increase mutual understanding between the United States and people of other countries. The program provides participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential—with a one-year opportunity to travel to a foreign country to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
This year, Oberlin has seven winners out of 20 applicants — a high success rate compared with the national average, says Michael Fisher, Robert S. Danforth Professor of History and a faculty Fulbright program advisor. Of the winners, Andrew Flachs ’11 decided instead to accept a Jacob K. Javits fellowship.
Nationally, an average of 10 percent of applicants from a single college or university receive the fellowship.
“The competition is extremely competitive,” Fisher says. That Oberlin produces so many Fulbrights is attributed to “the high quality of graduating seniors, the value of their proposed works, their thoughtful and persuasive project essays, and the extended advising and support by Oberlin administrators and faculty members.”
Established in 1946, the Fulbright program is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars, and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide. Approximately 1,500 U.S students receive Fulbright scholarships each year. For more information, visit the Fulbright Program website.
Oberlin College 2011-2012 Fulbright Recipients:
Charlotte Beers ’11 will study organ and conducting in Germany.
Helen Burns ’11 will teach English in Russia.
Jonathan Doucette ‘11 will teach English in the Slovak Republic.
Cordelia Loots-Gollin ‘11 will teach English in Poland.
Katie Thompson ‘11 will teach English in Costa Rica.
Theodore Waddelow ’11 will return to Bahrain to study the ancient Dilmun civilization
Oberlin College Alumni 2011-2012 Fulbright Recipients:
Catherine Mauck ‘09 will study historic iron gall ink manuscripts in France.
Elena Rippel ’10 will teach English in Germany.
Charlotte Beers will graduate with a double degree in organ performance and German studies. A merit scholarship student from West Hartford, Connecticut, Beers has studied organ with Associate Professor of Organ Jack Mitchener and Emeritus Professor of Organ David Boe. In January 2010, Beers was awarded a Conservatory Initiative Grant from Oberlin’s Creativity and Leadership Project. The grant enabled her to spend four weeks working at a Lutheran Church in Herrenberg, Germany. Pursuing her interests in Sacred Music and German under the tutelage of Ulrich Feige, Beers interned as a choral and vocal accompanist, organist and continuo player.
Beers also is a soprano for Oberlin’s Baroque Ensemble and Collegium Musicum. In spring 2009, she had a lead role in Charpentier’s chamber opera Les arts florissants, which was performed at Boston’s annual Early Music Festival.
In the 2010-2011 academic year, Beers completed an honor’s project in German studies, which brought both of her majors together. With funding from the Jerome Davis research grant, Beers explored the use of the organ within the Moravian Church in America. Her Fulbright fellowship in Germany will serve as a continuation of her academic and musical studies at Oberlin. Beers will study organ with Johannes Mayr at the Hochschule für Kirchenmusik in Tübingen. She also hopes to study conducting and participate in choral activities.
“As a student at Oberlin, I have been able to study two of my passions in great detail,” says Beers. “This coming year, I hope to further these interests and expand my study of the organ while immersing myself in the German language.”
Helen Burns of Massachusetts will graduate with majors in politics and Russian and East European studies. Having held a strong interest in foreign languages since childhood, Burns speaks Russian and Spanish and has studied Persian as an independent winter-term project. She also assisted with teaching this year's winter term intensive Russian course. Outside of the classroom, Helen is an avid long-distance runner and competed with Oberlin's cross country team.
Burns was also a member of the Tanwir Middle Eastern Studies organization, and is a host of WOBC's "Soviet Bloc Party" radio show, which features music from each nation of the former USSR. Her interest in the region is inseparable from her passion for music: She performed this semester with the Balkan Ensemble and often performs at open mic nights as a solo vocalist in several languages.
Burns spent her junior year studying abroad in both Russia and Spain. During her spare time, she traveled extensively throughout Eastern Europe, western Russia, and the northern Caucasus region. Her travels have inspired her to pursue further study of the politics, the culture, and the languages of this region. During the coming academic year, Burns will teach English in Chelyabinsk, Russia, the industrial center of the Southern Urals near the border of Kazakhstan. She will also integrate her musical interests with a side project that includes studying the local music scene.
Jonathan Doucette will graduate as an honors comparative American studies major from Northborough, Massachusetts. At Oberlin, Doucette has been closely involved with issues of sexuality and sexual health. He has been a staff member and counselor at the Sexual Information Center, and he acts as an HIV peer tester. For his Fulbright fellowship, Doucette will be an English teaching assistant in the Slovak Republic. As part of his research proposal, he hopes to explore the ways in which Slovak national identity has been re-imagined as a result of forming an independent nation from the Czech Republic after the Velvet Revolution in the early 1990s.
“I am eternally grateful for the guidance the Oberlin community has given me throughout my undergraduate career,” says Doucette. “From the sage advice espoused by the Office of Career Services to the numerous professors and peers who read (and re-read) my application, I am thrilled to explore Slovak culture through the generous funds provided by the Fulbright committee.”
Cordelia Loots-Gollin will be an English teaching assistant at a university in Szczecin, Poland. She is graduating with a double major in comparative American studies and gender, sexuality and feminist studies (GSFS). Her honors thesis in GSFS examined the ways that language used by the Centers for Disease Control in its HIV prevention materials possibly furthers systems of marginalization. On campus, she is an HIV peer tester. She has taught German during summer breaks, and she looks forward to improving her Polish language skills.
“I'm very grateful to my advisors, departments and the Fulbright application team for all the support and encouragement they've given me during this process,” Loots-Gollin says. “I'll miss the incredibly supportive environment of Oberlin and the friends I've made here, but I also feel that the past four years have prepared me to start this next adventure.”
After the Fulbright year, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work.
Katie Thompson from Bellingham, Washington, will graduate as a biology major. At Oberlin, Thompson has been a third-grade Spanish teacher locally with the Spanish in the Elementary Schools (SITES) program, and has taught English as a Second Language in the Lorain school district. Thompson also led service trips for Immerse Yourself in Service and was a member of Oberlin in Solidarity with El Salvador. With her Fulbright fellowship, Thompson will teach English in Costa Rica for nine months starting in March 2012.
After the Fulbright fellowship year, Thompson plans to apply to graduate school to study marine science or a similar program that combines her interests in research and education.
“This is a perfect opportunity for me to combine my passion for teaching with my love for Costa Rica, while also fully immersing myself in another culture and learning from my future students and community,” Thompson says. “I am deeply grateful to Oberlin for the immense support I have continuously received from professors and fellow students throughout my time here. I have Oberlin to thank for my achievements, and I am certain I will carry what I have learned here with me wherever I go.”
Theodore Waddelow of Greencastle, Pennsylvania, will graduate as a history and politics major. He conducted field research in Bahrain for his honors thesis in history, which examined political participation and democratic reform in the kingdom. His interest in the contemporary Middle East led him to study Arabic in Morocco, intern with the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington, DC, and help found the Tanwir Middle East Studies Association at Oberlin.
Waddelow was the student member of a team awarded a Mellon Five Colleges Digitization Grant to create a digital collection of records from the King-Crane Commission, and is spending the summer as a Junior Fellow with the World Digital Library project at the Library of Congress.
For his Fulbright fellowship, Waddelow will return to Bahrain to examine how the remnants of the country's ancient Dilmun civilization has been preserved and presented to the public. Beyond traditional venues such as museums, he is interested in exploring how governments are attempting to harness emerging technological tools to preserve their national heritage.
After the Fulbright year, Waddelow intends to pursue a graduate degree in Middle Eastern studies.
"I am deeply grateful to many people at Oberlin, but especially my professors, who have continually challenged and inspired me. This is an incredible opportunity to live and study in an important and misunderstood part of the world. This would not have been possible without their support."
A 2009 graduate from Worthington, Ohio, Catherine Mauck ’09 has received a Fulbright award that will take her to Paris, France, and the Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation des Collections, where she will study historic iron gall ink manuscripts.
Mauck, who majored in chemistry and French, will conduct research on the preservation and conservation of these historic materials from the 16th to 19th centuries by studying the interaction between iron gall ink corrosion and paper degradation, specifically by evaluating various treatments and storage conditions.
“Oberlin provided me with a strong research background that has helped me at every turn,” said Mauck. “At Oberlin, I was lucky enough to be able to combine my scientific interest with my love of art by focusing my research on cultural heritage materials in the lab of Assistant Professor Katie Oertel. This award gives me the opportunity to work in the field of art conservation science and hopefully discover how to continue within that context next year as I begin graduate studies in chemistry.”
When she returns from Paris, Mauck will pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry at Northwestern University.
Elena Rippel ’10 majored in history and German studies and minored in art history. During her time at Oberlin, she also played flute with college music ensembles and was a member of OSCA. After graduation, Rippel moved back to her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she worked at an environmental center and volunteered at local museums. Rippel received the English Teaching Assistantship Fulbright grant and will be assisting with English classes in a high school located in Lower Saxony, Germany. She is excited to return to Germany after having spent her junior year studying there, and is looking forward to addressing cross-cultural issues in the classroom and gaining a deeper understanding of German culture.
On the side, Rippel also wants to learn how institutions and residents interpret their local history in connection to public spaces. After returning from Germany, Rippel plans to study public history in graduate school.