International Studies alumni receive Fulbright awards

Written by Karen L. Bystrom
May 24, 2018

Two recent International Studies SU alums received Fulbright awards to begin in the Fall  of 2018.

Emily Kawahigashi, ‘16 won a fellowship to research on indigenous cultures and higher education in Nicaragua

Olivia Mejia, ‘17 won a fellowship to teach English in Colombia.

International Studies Alum Emily KawahigashiEmily Kawahigashi grew up in California, Thailand, and Hawai’i, and has traveled extensively in Southeast Asia and Latin America. Her BA in International Studies centered around themes of anthropology, indigeneity, and human rights, and her thesis focused on the impact of mega-development projects on indigenous rights in Chile and Nicaragua. Since graduation in 2016, she has taught English in Nicaragua and conducted research on migrant rights in Nepal while working for Omprakash, an ethical international volunteer NGO.

Her Fulbright research project focuses on identifying how indigenous youth perceive higher education and what they hope to gain out of academic opportunities to understand how universities in Nicaragua can better construct culturally appropriate environments and methods to support these students. Emily is most excited for the opportunity to learn from the students, activists, and researchers that have worked in this field for years. After the Fulbright grant, Emily plans to attend law school at the University of Washington.


International Studies Alum Olivia Mejia in front of the Eiffel TowerOlivia Mejia-Martinez, born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, received her BA from Seattle U with a major in International Studies with Departmental Honors and minors in Political Science and French. Olivia studied abroad in France and Senegal and worked as a Peer Advisor in SU’s Education Abroad office. Given her interest in international education and teaching ESL, Olivia accepted a job through the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) to teach English in French public elementary schools.

For her Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Colombia Olivia will be based in Bogotá at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Olivia will volunteer with an organization that promotes food justice initiatives in Colombia, start a fusion cooking class, and English conversation group with her students. Olivia’s long-term goal is to advance Spanish language dual immersion programs in Southern California as a teacher, administrator, and/or a policymaker.