People of SU / Research
Written by Allison Nitch
July 18, 2022
Image credit: Morgan Klass
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers unparalleled opportunities in all academic disciplines to passionate and accomplished graduating college seniors, graduate students and young professionals from all backgrounds. Program participants pursue graduate study, conduct research or teach English abroad.
Seattle University has a strong track record of Fulbrights, having been named a “Top Producer” of Fulbright Scholars. This year is no exception, with several graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences named recipients of this grant program.
McCalee Cain: Fulbright Scholar
Since graduating summa cum laude as an English and French major, McCalee Cain, ‘22, will relocate to Senegal in West Africa next year on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant and will work with secondary students. Upon completing her year with Fulbright, she plans to apply to graduate school to study literature, translation or education.
“For me, being awarded a Fulbright marks the culmination of four years of studying what I love,” says Cain, who served on the Arts & Sciences Student Executive Council—a student advisory board to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I landed on a French and English double major after trying out many other majors and at the time, I was nervous about what prospects and opportunities that combination could lead me to. All I knew was that these two areas of study got me excited and stoked my curiosity beyond the classroom.”
Once she decided to apply for a Fulbright and began crafting her application essays, “my previous fears melted away. I was so excited that I could be a fit for this incredible opportunity and reassured that my choice to follow my passions would never lead me astray,” she explains.
“Being selected as a Fulbright is such an honor and I am so grateful for all the incredible professors and classmates that shaped my journey here. I can’t wait to take all that I’ve learned at SU and translate it into my teaching with Fulbright.”
She says SU shaped her “so profoundly that I struggle to imagine who and where I would be had I attended another institution. In both my English and French degrees, I learned how to think critically and globally, to engage with my learning and with the world around me and to express my unique voice.”
Graham O’Hara Wielgos: Fulbright Scholar
“Earning a Fulbright has been my goal for several years and I’m proud of myself for making it happen,” says Graham O’Hara Wielgos, ‘22.
This fall, Wielgos will move to Cuenca, Spain, to complete a fellowship at FabLab Cuenca/American Space Quixote, a makerspace and cultural center affiliated with the U.S. Embassy.
“From late nights writing essays in the library to spending a summer interning at U.S. Embassy Madrid, I’ve worked hard to get to this point. It’s a wildly fulfilling culmination of my college experience and I’m beyond excited to start my next adventure in Spain,” he says.
Wielgos, a summa cum laude communications and media major with a specialization in strategic communication, is pursuing a career in international relations, “so this year will be an incredible opportunity to continue developing the skills I need to be an effective diplomat.”
In terms of how the university impacted him, Wielgos says “SU’s small class sizes have given me the space to develop strong relationships with my professors, who have gone above and beyond to mentor me through my academic, professional and personal growth.”
One of his fondest memories from his time at SU was when he emailed a professor asking for recommendations for books about the Middle East. “Instead of just giving me a list, she mailed copies of the books to my home in Illinois. That truly exemplifies the care and commitment of the professors on this campus, qualities I think you’d be hard-pressed to find at many other universities.”
Isabel Gilbertson: U.S. Student Fulbright Research Grantee
Isabel Gilbertson,’22, a Psychology and Public Affairs major, was selected as a U.S. Student Fulbright Research Finalist for a fellowship in Vietnam for the 2022-2023 academic year, where she will conduct COVID-19 behavioral health research in Vietnam at the Hanoi University of Public Health.
She says Vietnam has a robust and extensive public health response to COVID-19 and other pandemics and she’s interested in examining the impact of extensive COVID-19 health measures on Vietnam's population.
“Being awarded a Fulbright means so much to me because it acknowledges my public health work, service to my community and excellence in academic work,” says Gilbertson. “More than anything, this award honors my research and ongoing commitment to help answer important public health questions that will impact past and future generations.”
During the pandemic, Gilbertson noticed behavioral health changes in herself and others from increased anxiety to hopelessness. “I knew I had the tools and skills as an experienced researcher and psychology student to help examine new health patterns, so I joined a research group under Dr. Kira Mauseth that conducted COVID-19 behavioral health research at the Washington State Department of Health.”
During that time, Gilbertson became interested in the long-term impact of COVID-19 on different populations. “The questions that arose from this experience guided my interest in international research and my Fulbright research grant proposal.”
As a graduate of SU’s Honors Program: Society, Policy and Citizenship, Gilbertson says she “was fortunate to receive a strong foundation in social science with an emphasis in social justice. Being a double major, I was able to learn about health from an individual and systemic perspective and different public health systems and programs in the U.S. and abroad.”
Gilbertson says SU shaped her “into an individual that was motivated to apply my learning to real world situations and pressing issues domestically and abroad.”
Additional Fulbright Awards
Tristin Schultz,’22, International Studies and Political Science major, received an English Teaching Assistant Award and will travel to South Korea. Hallie Evans, ’22, International Studies and Spanish double major, was selected as an Alternate for Study/Research Award in Chile.
To learn more about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, visit https://us.fulbrightonline.org/.
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