Published on May 25, 2017
Updated on Aug. 21, 2017
A conversation in the backseat of a taxi in India set University of Missouri alumnus Matthew Busch on a path to becoming a Fulbright finalist.
While visiting a friend in Kolkata, India, in 2015, Busch found himself in a taxi with a Fulbright grant recipient who was working on a documentary film. That conversation stuck with Busch.
“Eventually, I applied with a proposal that is something I am passionate about and which fits within Fulbright’s mission,” says Busch, who graduated from MU with a degree in photojournalism in 2012.
Earlier this spring, Busch was one of seven MU students—and one of 1,900 U.S. citizens—selected to conduct research, teach English and provide expertise abroad for the 2017-18 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Through a Fulbright grant, Busch will return to India to document through photography the movement in and out of urban areas, and research the societal, communal and personal stories of migrants in those communities.
Busch’s initial visit to India sparked an interest in the country.
“I wanted to learn more about the place that had moved me so deeply,” Busch says. “I came to the realization that I had felt an incredibly strong sense of community there.”
He focused his Fulbright proposal on taking a closer look at community in India, exploring what it means to belong in a place.
“It will be exciting to share what I’ve learned at the end of this project with a wider audience,” Busch says. “The whole purpose of my project is to use photographs and text to engender a broader conversation on urbanization in heavily populated areas.”
Following his graduation from the University of Missouri, Busch earned a bachelor’s degree from the Danish School of Media and Journalism.
“I love the work I do as a journalist and photographer,” Busch says. “Working on one project for nine months with backing and partners to collaborate with is a great opportunity that I plan on taking every advantage of. I am also excited to work with my host institution. I know I will never have the understanding of India that my future mentors and colleagues there have gained through a lifetime of experiences. Their insight will be critical to my project’s success.”
For the second year in a row, Mizzou set a school record with 34 students and alumni applying for Fulbright grants. Of those applicants, 16 were named semifinalists—also a new MU high—and seven have been named finalists, with six selected as alternates.
Four May 2017 graduates—Marissa Anz, Carly Garrow, Nate Henry and Moiz Munir—and graduate students Audrey Case and Kristin Torres joined Busch as 2017 Fulbright finalists. The finalists will become grantees after formally accepting the offer.
“I have always heard great things about the Fulbright program and I knew Mizzou had a history of many candidates being selected,” says Case, who will travel to Germany to teach English. “Fulbright combines two interests of mine—immersing myself in Germany’s culture and teaching.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in German and art history from Mizzou in 2016, Case is working towards a master’s degree in German.
Anz earned an undergraduate degree in documentary journalism from MU and will use her Fulbright grant to pursue a master’s degree in visual and digital media at the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, Spain, a program she says perfectly fits her goals.
“I’m most looking forward to improving my Spanish and growing in my storytelling skills through the master’s program,” she says. “Madrid is a beautiful, historical city and I can’t wait to experience it through Fulbright.”
Munir, a biological sciences major from O’Fallon, Missouri, received a Fulbright grant to Malaysia to conduct research on the use of complementary and alternative medicine for cancer patients.
“I wanted to travel and absorb a new culture while doing clinical and public health research,” Munir says. “When I heard about the Fulbright program it seemed like a perfect fit. But, what truly sold me on the program was being able to represent the U.S. abroad.”
Like Munir, Henry will travel to Malaysia. An economics and Spanish double major, Henry will use his Fulbright grant to teach English.
Torres earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian from Mizzou in 2012 and a master’s degree in Russian and Slavonic studies in 2017. She spent last summer in Kyrgyzstan on a State Department Fellowship and will return for the 2017-18 academic year.
“I pursued Fulbright to return to the country and interview women about how fear of Islamic radicalization has made wearing the hijab taboo, and even illegal in some spheres of public life,” Torres says. “I wanted to better understand the link between what women wear and their national identify, and what that means for the direction of Kyrgyzstan and its place in the Muslim world.”
Extenuating circumstances have forced Torres to decline the Fulbright this year. Instead, she will enroll in a master’s program in Russian, Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Harvard University on a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship. She plans to spend next summer in Kyrgyzstan and work with an anthropologist who she would have worked with through the Fulbright grant.
Garrow, a bioengineering major, was named as a Fulbright finalist to conduct research and prepare training procedures on laparoscopic surgical techniques in Germany. Garrow, a native of Wentzville, Missouri, was also selected for the DAAD Fellowship and the Whitaker International Program Fellowship and has chosen to accept the Whitaker Fellowship.
2017 graduates Nicholas Bira, Katherine Schnell, Ruth Serven and Michaela Tucker, along with alumnae Dorothy Finney and Margaret Rotts were named Fulbright alternates.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
“I am most looking forward to seeing a completely new country, exploring a new culture, meeting new people and conducting interesting research,” Munir says.
Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected based on academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.
“Fulbright provides the opportunity for people to act as cultural ambassadors and to have experiences beneficial to both countries,” Case says. “I am excited to learn more about Germany, to provide students with a unique learning opportunity and to hone my language skills.”