November 26, 2018
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Kenyon has enjoyed a ten-year run as a top producer of Fulbright fellows, who share the Kenyon dynamic around the world as researchers and teachers. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently compiled its annual list of Fulbright “top producers,” with Kenyon in a tie for sixth among bachelor’s institutions.
A fascination with China has led to a Fulbright research fellowship for Morgan Peele '13. Peele joined eight other Kenyon alumni as Fulbright Fellows this year, and the others have dedicated themselves to teaching around the world.
Peele traveled to Hangzhou, China, in September to pursue the study of "The Childcare Conundrum: How Families Navigate the Issue of Childcare in Hangzhou, China." A sociology and women's and gender studies double major, Peele has been fascinated by China's culture and social characteristics since she studied Mandarin in high school.
Other recent Kenyon alumni will be teaching for a year in Asia, Europe, and South America.
Sustained success in placing Fulbright fellows is based on a polished process that involves the Kenyon administrative staff, faculty members, and, of course, the students themselves, said Jane Martindell, director of the Office of National Fellowships & Scholarships. Students are engaged in their sophomore year and introduced to the Fulbright experience. Information sessions and more details are shared during the junior year and students are advised to make the most of their experiences abroad. A workshop focuses on writing effective proposals and personal statements. Professors invest considerable time on recommendation letters.
“It really does take a village, and ours is fully committed to helping students be successful and find opportunities that really make sense for them,” Martindell said. “The high level of student and faculty engagement makes the biggest difference for our students. The combination of high-quality students and generous faculty willing to have long conversations that help students explore all the possibilities is a major plus.”
Peele attributes her interest in family and childcare studies to the "Women in Work" seminar taught by Kathy Krynski, Himmelright Professor of Economics. The seminar raised Peele's awareness of "the obstacles women deal with when they have to work" and the varying approaches to childcare across the globe.
"Basically, I'm trying to understand how as China has shifted from more of a socialist economy to a capitalist economy women have lost a lot of the safety nets," Peele said of her research proposal. "What happens is that many of the state-funded childcare centers from the '50s, '60s, and '70s have closed and families are having to contend with astronomically expensive childcare costs." In Hangzhou, Peele will be taking classes and working with sociology faculty and the deputy of social research at Zhejiang University. She will interview families and mothers with experience balancing work and childcare.
Kenyon's interdisciplinary curriculum made a "good package" for Peele when it came time to apply for a Fulbright. "It allowed me to take what was a very strong and serious academic interest and examine it from many different facets of Kenyon's curriculum," Peele said. She credits her advisor, Anna Sun, assistant professor of sociology and Asian studies, with helping her choose the topic and the Kenyon Fulbright Committee with providing the support needed to complete a winning application.
The fellowships, for teaching or research, are highly competitive and often help propel young scholars into meaningful careers. About 1,900 such grants are awarded each year, and the grants provide a fully-funded academic year abroad.
These alumni won English teaching assistantships:
Haley Abing '13 of Honolulu; modern languages and literatures major; to Taiwan.
Sara Carminati '13 of Boulder, Colorado; synoptic major in comparative literature and neuroscience; to Brazil.
Rebecca Chowdhury '13 of Jackson Heights, New York; Spanish major, to Bangladesh.
Christina Gordon '12 of Pittsfield, New York; modern languages and literatures and political science major; to Jordan.
Alex Kieselstein '13 of River Forest, Illinois; international studies major; to Bulgaria.
James Neimister '13 of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; modern languages and literatures major; to Russia.
Melody Travers '12 of New York City; sociology major; to Germany.
Tess Waggoner '13 of Maumee, Ohio, a religious studies major, to Turkey.
These alumni are alternates:
Andrew Ebner '13 of Greer, South Carolina, a chemistry major, is a teaching alternate to Romania.
Sarah Maniates '13 of Meadville, Pennsylvania, an international studies major, is a social work research alternate to Botswana.