Fulbrighters heading to Malaysia, Spain, Brazil

April 19, 2018
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer
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The photos of students below show Sophie Adams, left, and and at top right, Emily Byrne, and lower photo at left, Emily Burns; The lower photo at right shows alternate Emma Barnes.

Three Saint Michael’s College students and a recent graduate learned this week that they have been awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Scholarships, making this “the most successful student Fulbright Scholarship year in the school’s history,” according to Patricia Siplon, professor of political science and the College’s undergraduate fellowship coordinator for the past five years.

The Modern Languages Department (Spanish/French) at the College was particularly strong and well-represented among this year’s winners, and mathematics also made a strong showing.

This year’s winners are Sophia Adams, a senior mathematics major Sophia Adamsand the Student Association president from Ashland, NH, who will teach and study in Malaysia; Emily Byrne (right),Emily Byrne a senior Spanish and elementary education major from Armonk, NY, whose assignment is to Spain; and Emily Burns, a Spanish and French 2015 graduate from North River, NY, currently doing international work in Latin America — who will be going to Brazil. Another applicant, Emma Barnes, an economics and mathematics major and senior from Amherst, WI, was initially named an alternate for a possible placement in Indonesia (smaller photo below right) — but this update came from Siplon on April 26: “With Emma’s permission, I am very excited to share her great news. She will be joining Emily Byrne, Emily Burns and Sophie Adams as a Fulbrighter next year!  She was extended an invitation from the Indonesia Fulbright Commission this morning. Congratulations, Emma, on the the outstanding work that led to winning this award and on your resilience and great attitude up to this point…”

Said Adams (photo above left), “I am deeply humbled and honored to have been chosen to serve as a Fulbright scholar to the incredible country of Malaysia. I feel that the opportunities at Saint Michael’s and encouragement of the faculty and staff here have prepared me for this opportunity. I am excited to enter this experience with an open mind seeking to learn as much about the country, Malaysian people, and it’s rich culture as possible.” Emily Byrne (photo at top right), said, “I am so excited for Saint Michael’s College and our success this year. I couldn’t have done it without the support of the faculty, especially Professor Siplon. I studied abroad in Spain Fall semester of my junior year and cannot wait to return and fully immerse in the culture as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.” And Emily Burns (left lower photo), said “I feel honored to be given the opportunity to teach English with the Fulbright program in Brazil. Emily BurnsFrom my own experience as a language student, I understand how knowing another language not only creates professional opportunities, but it opens up new worlds. Through the Fulbright program I aspire to help my students in Brazil discover new worlds for themselves. I am profoundly thankful to Professor Peter Vantine and Professor Laurence Clerfeuille from the modern language department for their support and encouragement. I would also like to thank Professor Trish Siplon for her hard work during the application process and I am thrilled to take part in this cultural exchange through Fulbright.”

Saint Michael’s President Jack Neuhauser said of the recent Fulbright news: “This is very good news. I very much appreciate all the hard work that Trish Siplon and others have given to this. It is important to the College but also for these students as it will simply open their eyes to horizons that will last a lifetime.”Emma Barnes

Siplon broke down the numbers that made this such a banner year for Fulbrights at Saint Michael’s: “We had the most student application recommended by the school with 13, we had the most semi-finalists with four, and we had the most winners at three, with the fourth being named alternate,” she said.

“I would like to acknowledge that the progress we are making on Fulbright with at least one winner for all of the last five years, after at least 20 years with none at all, is heavily reliant on Peggy Imai’s outstanding work with our Saint Michael’s College Study Abroad Program,” Siplon said. “And I want to extend a huge thanks to faculty members Jeff Ayres, Jon Hyde, Kimberly Sultze and Patti Delaney — all Fulbrighters themselves — who have helped to populate the campus interview committee and support students in their application process.”

Siplon said it was noteworthy this year “that our applicants and winners reflect a variety of majors, and both the Modern Languages Department and the Mathematics Department did particularly well in this round.” Also significant is that Emily Burns, who is headed to Brazil, applied unsuccessfully last year but stayed with it. “I have been encouraging applicants who are not selected to re-apply, and we now have Emily’s resilience as a role model for future students,” said Siplon, herself a past winner of Fulbrights to study in Jordan and Tanzania.

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