Class of 2019 includes 14 Fulbright awardees

Photos of 14 students.
The Class of 2019 includes 14 students who have accepted a Fulbright Awards for the 2019-2020 academic year. Top row, left to right: Fjora Arapi, Carinthia Bank, Julia Bell, Dillon Bergin, Wilson Fisher. Middle row, left to right: Savi Joshi, John McGahay, Tiberiu Mihaila, Candace Morff, Shiv Nadkarni. Bottom row, left to right: Hughes Ransom, Mark Rinder, Caroline Scown, Nicholas Wehbeh. 

Among the University of Pennsylvania Class of 2019 are 14 recipients of a Fulbright Award. Each will pursue a graduate degree, conduct research, work in an internship, or teach English in countries including Albania, Bahrain, Czech Republic, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.  

In all, 21 Penn students and alumni have been offered Fulbright Awards to date for the 2019-2020 academic year, with more decisions expected in the coming weeks. Penn is among the top institutions in the United States for producing Fulbright recipients. 

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, awarding grants to fund up to 12 months of international experience. Most Fulbright grants are for individual study or research or for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program. This year, Penn students were also selected for other Fulbright program grants, including the Fulbright Young Professional Journalist Program and the Fulbright-García Robles Binational Internship. 

Penn’s applicants are supported by the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.

The Class of 2019 students who accepted the Fulbright are: 

Fjora Arapi, of Avon Lake, Ohio, is a senior double major in international relations and modern Middle Eastern studies in the School of Arts and Sciences. Arapi will use her award to conduct research in Albania. At Penn, she has been involved with the International Affairs Association and the United Nations Model U.N. Conference, and was a member of the Hype Dance Crew. She was a 2018 recipient of the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship for Arabic. Arapi hopes to eventually pursue a law degree in immigration or human rights law and engage in immigrant advocacy. 

Carinthia Bank, of Philadelphia, is a graduate student in the School of Social Policy & Practice. Bank will use her award to study at the University of Stirling in the U.K., where she will pursue a master’s in the psychology of sport. She earned her B.A. in history from Princeton University after dancing in a professional ballet company in Ukraine. Bank plans to work with athletes preparing for and working through life transitions.

Julia Bell, of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, is a senior English major in the School of Arts and Sciences. Bell will go to the Czech Republic to work as an English teaching assistant, returning to the country where she worked during the summer of 2016. At Penn, she was the senior features editor for the student-run 34th Street Magazine and a National Public Radio Next Generation Fellow, which led to her interest in how media literacy impacts English learning.

Dillon Bergin, of South Bend, Indiana, is a senior comparative literature major, with a minor in creative writing, in the School of Arts and Sciences. Bergin will be part of the Fulbright Young Professional Journalist Program in Germany writing freelance stories about the climate justice and environmental movement. Last summer, Bergin worked for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and spent a month in South Africa doing research for his senior thesis on student protests. He is currently a fellow at Penn’s Andrea Mitchell Center for Democracy and Citizenship and the Wolf Humanities Center.

Wilson Fisher, of Buffalo, New York, is a senior double major in history of art and economics in the School of Arts and Sciences. Fisher will use his award to go to Ukraine to research photography made in the wake of the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution, partnering with a combination of public and private universities and institutions. At Penn, he was a senior photographer at the student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, was on the Institute for Contemporary Art’s student advisory board and was a CURF research peer advisor. Last summer he conducted an art history research project in Scandinavia funded by a CURF fellowship, and this year founded the Refrigerator Residency, a grant-funded postcard exchange and curatorial platform. He plans a career working with and for contemporary artists.

Savi Joshi, of Fremont, California, is a senior in the Wharton School's management, and the operations. information and decisions departments. Joshi will go to Malaysia to work as an English teaching assistant. At the Wharton Small Business Development Center, she focused on understanding the fundamental drivers of successful organizations and startups to relay those skills back to the field of education. Joshi will teach dance as well as English to secondary school students in Malaysia, and hopes to work with Malaysian nonprofits that support female entrepreneurs and after-school education for young refugees.

John McGahay, of Poughkeepsie, New York, is a senior double major in linguistics and cognitive science in the School of Arts and Sciences, with minors in German and computer science. McGahay will go to Germany to work as an English teaching assistant. At Penn, he is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the national German honors society Delta Phi Alpha. He plays the saxophone in the Penn Band and the Penn Wind Ensemble. He has worked as a German tutor with the Penn Language Center and as a research assistant for the Penn Language Variation and Cognition Lab. McGahay spent the spring semester abroad in 2017 at the Free University of Berlin through the Berlin Consortium for German Studies.

Tiberiu Mihaila, of Manlius, New York, is a senior in the Roy & Diana Vagelos Molecular Life Sciences Program in the School of Arts and Sciences. Mihaila will use his award to conduct research at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany, where he will be using and developing optical nanoscopy methods to answer questions about protein aggregation. At Penn, he worked in The Petersson Laboratory in the Department of Chemistry and the Lee Research Group at the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at the Perelman School of Medicine, focusing on projects to help understand aberrant protein folding in neurodegenerative diseases. Upon returning to the U.S., he plans to begin a M.D./Ph.D. program.

Candace Morff, of International Falls, Minnesota, is a senior double major in earth and environmental science and German in the School of Arts and Sciences. Morff will work as an English teaching assistant, in rural north Germany. She spent a semester abroad at the Free University of Berlin in 2018. At Penn, she was in Penn Band and held a variety of teaching and mentoring positions, including in the Riepe Mentors Residential Program in the Penn College Achievement Program as well as in the Moelis Access Science program at the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. 

Shiv Nadkarni, of Edison, New Jersey, is a senior biological basis of behavior major with a minor in chemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences. Nadkarni will use his award to study at the University of Roehampton in the U.K., pursuing a master’s degree in dance anthropology, focusing on Kathak dance/movement therapy for children with motor development disorders. At Penn, he ran the Performing Arts Council’s after-school arts program, which offers mentorship to students in Philadelphia public schools. He was involved in research on improving children’s mental health at the Penn Center for Mental Health at the Perelman School of Medicine. 

Hughes Ransom, of Kansas City, Missouri, is a senior English major in the School of Arts and Sciences. He will use his award to study film in Mexico starting in January 2020. At Penn, he served as the media editor for the student-run Under the Button satire publication, and was involved with other student groups including Without A Net, Simply Chaos, and Active Minds Penn. He hopes to pursue a career as a writer for a television series.

Mark Rinder, of Morganville, New Jersey, is in the Huntsman Program, with a major in international studies and a minor in Latin American and Latino studies in the School of Arts and Sciences and a concentration in statistics and business economics and public policy in the Wharton School. As a participant in the Fulbright-García Robles Binational Internship, Rinder will be paired with a company or non-governmental organization in Mexico to study international business at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. At Penn, Rinder served as president of 180 Degrees Consulting, which performed social impact projects. After the Fulbright year, he plans to pursue a graduate degree and career in international development.

Caroline Scown, of Hong Kong, is a senior political science major with a minor in international development in the School of Arts and Sciences. Scown will go to Taiwan to work as an English teaching assistant. She is interested in refugee issues, human rights, and international education. At Penn, she played on the ultimate frisbee club team and taught dance in West Philadelphia with CityStep. In 2016, she studied Chinese at Tsinghua University in Beijing through the Fox Leadership China-U.S. PEACE Language Studies Fellowship. Scown plans to pursue a career in public policy and human rights advocacy.

Nicholas Wehbeh, of Brooklyn, New York, is a senior double major in international relations and modern Middle Eastern studies in the School of Arts and Sciences. Wehbeh will go to Bahrain to work as an English teaching assistant. He is interested in Middle Eastern politics and wrote his undergraduate thesis on Kurdish nationalism in Iraq and Syria with an American foreign policy prescription. He also spent time abroad at the American University in Beirut and spent summers interning at the United Nations. At Penn, he was involved with the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project, Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, and the Sigma Iota Rho honors society. 

Other Penn affiliates who accepted Fulbright awards this year are:

Anna Carapellotti, who graduated with a B.A. in cognitive science in the School of Arts and Sciences in 2015, will use her award to go to The Netherlands to research the experience of dancing with Parkinson’s disease at the Amsterdam UMC, VU University Medical Centre. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology at Queen’s University Belfast as a Thouron Scholar.

Alexandria Cogdill, who graduated with a master's in biotechnology and engineering entrepreneurship from the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2016, is a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas. She will use her award to go to France to conduct research with the Gustave Roussy Cancer Center, the University of Paris-Sud, and the French National Institute of Health. She will research how the gut microbiome influences response to cancer immunotherapy. 

Bryan Norton, a Ph.D. student in the Comparative Literature and Literary Theory Program, will be a visiting researcher in the German department at Goethe Universität in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. His research analyzes intersections between philosophy, literature, media studies, and the history of science and technology. 

Helen Stuhr-Rommereim, a Ph.D. candidate in the Comparative Literature and Literary Theory Program, will conduct archival research in Moscow and St. Petersburg on the personal documentary materials of authors central to her dissertation, including Nikolai Chernyshevsky. 

Aharon Lahijani, who graduated with a B.A. in international relations and a minor in Middle Eastern studies in 2018, will go to Brazil to work as an English teaching assistant. Last year he was awarded a Kathryn Davis Peace Fellowship to study Portuguese at Middlebury College. He is interested in the impact of civil society development on public corruption and the relationship between water scarcity and conflict.