Fulbrights allow Saint Michael's College graduates to teach in Asia, part of surge in top scholarship

By: Mark Tarnacki

Saint Michael's College senior Mariclaire O'Neill and 2013 graduate Dylan Renca have been awarded prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Awards for 2014-15. O'Neill will do her Fulbright work in Malaysia and Renca will be in Indonesia.

Mariclaire O'Neill O'Neill will graduate in May 2014 with a bachelor's in English Literature and a minor in Psychology. She has worked as a writing coach for the college's Writing Center for over two years and has been Core Editor for two years to the college's literary magazine, the Onion River Review, and served the year before as auxiliary editor. In summer 2012 she was awarded a Vice President for Academic Affairs Research Fellowship to work on Green Mountain, a novel-writing project. O'Neill studied abroad in Samoa in 2013 with the School for International Training.

Dylan RencaRenca graduated from Saint Michael's in May 2013 with a degree in English and religious studies and an overall GPA of 3.87. He also completed a Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in July 2013. Renca was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society, Delta Epsilon Sigma National Catholic Honor Society and Theta Alpha Kappa National Honor Society for Religious Studies. During his time at Saint Michael's, he was actively involved with a variety of campus offices including the Office of Admissions; Edumundite Campus Ministry; the MOVE Service Program; and the Honors Program. Since graduating he has been working as a para-educator at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington.

An English Teaching Assistant Program places a Fulbrighter in a classroom abroad to provide assistance to teachers of English to non-native English-speakers. English Teaching Assistants help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for U.S. culture. The age and academic level of classroom students varies by country, ranging from kindergarten to university level.

Saint Michael's Commencement is Sunday, May 11, at 10 a.m. in the Ross Sports Center, and on Saturday, May 10 directly following this year's 4 p.m. Baccalaureate Mass the college will be hosting a reception for O'Neill, Renca and their families, as well as for Katherine Schutt '14 and her family.

Katherine SchuttAs a junior last April, Schutt, a chemistry major with math and biology minors won the very prestigious Goldwater Scholarship - the first person ever from Saint Michael's to win this national recognition. The Goldwater Scholarship is considered the most competitive and most beneficial recognition for an undergraduate science student in the United States. Named in honor of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, the scholarship, established by Congress, aims "to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields." The scholarship provides $7,500 and an advantage in getting into top graduate programs and in landing research grants. Schutt used her 2012 summer research project on mixed-isotope labeling in breast cancer as the genesis of her Goldwater application.

Faculty Fulbrights

Three Saint Michael's professors also were Fulbright scholars overseas in 2013-2014: Valerie Banschbach, biology professor and chairperson of environmental studies, spent five months in India starting in the fall of 2013 teaching and researching organic versus conventional farms, in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India; Jon Hyde and Kimberly Sultze, both professors of media studies, journalism and digital arts, did Fulbright years in Malaysia for a collaborative three-part project on media, health and the environment based on teaching, photographic documentation of biodiversity and conservation efforts and development of a new course for Saint Michael's on Media, Health and the Environment.

In 2012-2013 the college also had three Fulbright scholars: Art History Professor Amy Werbel spent an academic year in China; Political Science Professor Patricia Siplon spent a year in Jordan and Education Professor Aostre Johnson did her research in Ireland. Political Science Professor Jeffrey Ayres had a Fulbright at Carleton University in Canada in 2003.

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