Fulbright Scholarships Offer Students Opportunities Abroad

Pari Jafari has never lived outside of Columbia, Missouri. That is about to change.

Jafari will spend the 2015-16 academic year in Belgium after being selected to receive a Fulbright grant. She is one of six former Mizzou students chosen by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to receive either a research grant or a teaching assistantship.

Jafari, who graduated from MU in May with degrees in biology, classics and French, will study at a translation school in Brussels while working to translate the writings of two 19th-century Frenchmen who served as court physicians to the Shah of Iran.

“I am looking forward to working on a project that I find fascinating and challenging and that incorporates many of my interests all at once,” Jafari says. “I am excited to learn about the medical practices of the time, as well as about life in the royal court.”

Christine Coester, a recent graduate of the MU School of Journalism master’s program, was also selected for a Fulbright research grant. Her studies will take her to Germany, where she will produce a science multimedia project related to antibiotics at the University of Leipzig.

“I decided to pursue a Fulbright because I wanted the opportunity to work on a large scale journalism project in a way many news organizations are unable to facilitate and support,” Coester says.

Emily Voss, a May 2014 graduate of Mizzou, was also selected to receive a grant and will spend next year in Bangladesh. Three others—Austin Sanders, Margaret Cleveland and John Tenny—have been selected for teaching assistantships.

Sanders will be working at two agricultural trade schools in Austria—one for agriculture and food production and the other for wine and fruit production—after being offered an assistantship from the Austrian-America Educational Commission and choosing that position over the Fulbright.

“I am excited to discuss U.S. culture and history in a structured format so that the students and teachers can learn new things about the U.S. and hear new perspectives about things that they already know, and so that I can learn about their perspectives on the U.S. and the world in general,” Sanders says.

Sanders is from Glasgow, Missouri, and graduated from MU with a degree in political science and minors in sustainable agriculture and German. He spent five months in 2014 abroad, studying in Tübingen, Germany.

“It was always surprising to find out how much people knew about some aspects of U.S. culture and how little they knew about others,” Sanders says. “I decided to pursue the fellowship so that I could continue these conversations in a more structured format and continue to teach and learn from the people I meet.”

Cleveland’s Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) will send her to a country she has already visited as she will make her third trip to South Korea. She first traveled to the country as part of the Teach and Learn Korea (TaLK) program in 2013, then taught at an English Summer Camp in South Korea through the MU Asian Affairs program in the summer of 2014.

“I love working with kids and have a passion for Korean culture and people,” she says. “It is a great way to not only teach English, but share American culture with Korean people, as well as learn more about Korea.”

Cleveland graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife science, with minors in biology and leadership and public service. She also earned the multicultural certificate and the Peace Corps Global Service Award. She is from Stoutland, Missouri. In Korea, Cleveland will meet and travel with students that she met while serving as an ambassador in the MU Asian Affairs Center.

“I am excited to meet my Korean friends who were exchange students at Mizzou,” Cleveland says. “I still have so much to learn about the language and culture.”

John Tenny will travel to Turkey next year after being selected for a Fulbright ETA.

“I am excited to be able to teach in a country that is so culturally and linguistically heterogeneous,” Tenny says.

Tenny is from Krum, Texas, and earned degrees in international studies and Spanish from MU.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The Program operates in over 155 countries worldwide. Twelve Mizzou students were among the semifinalists for a 2015 Fulbright Scholarship, including four named as alternates: Fares Akremi (United Kingdom), Travis Eakin (Germany), Megan Kelly (ETA to Turkey) and Trey Sprick (United Kingdom).

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.