Spanning the globe

Spanning the globe

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From Kosovo to Tanzania, students to study, teach, and serve through high-profile grants, internships

Their stories are as rich as their ambitions.

Emboldened by their Rowan University studies and by their passion for international service, seven students and recent graduates have secured prestigious—and highly competitive—scholarships, fellowships and internships to study, teach, and work around the world.

Among them are: two recipients of scholarships to teach English in Kosovo and Germany through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program; two recipients of Boren Awards for International Study; a Peace Corps placement to Indonesia; a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals fellowship to Germany; and an Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology Research Internship to Japan.

Read about them below.

Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETA)

Funded through an annual appropriation by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide.

ETAs are placed in classrooms abroad to teach the English language and to serve as cultural ambassadors.

Since 2000, Rowan has had 23 students land Fulbright grants to teach and study in countries including Mongolia, Cypress, Vietnam, Turkey, Malaysia, and South Africa, among others. Students interested in applying for a Fulbright or other scholarship or grant to study abroad should contact Professor Corinne Blake (E-mail blake@rowan.edu).

Saranda Karpuzi

For four months, Saranda Karpuzi thought about nothing but earning a Fulbright ETA to Kosovo. Twenty-six drafts of her application essays later, here she is.

“I wanted this so badly,” says Karpuzi, who leaves in September for a 10-month Fulbright ETA to Kosovo. There, she’ll teach English to secondary school students.

At age 14, Karpuzi, the daughter of Albanian immigrants, got interested in history when she visited a school in Macedonia. She learned refugees from Kosovo had stayed in that very school during a war for independence from Serbia.

“My exposure to the complexities of the Balkans fostered my interest in the region,” Karpuzi says. “It caused me to no longer see the world as static and simple, but, instead, as ever-changing and complicated.”

Her Rowan studies—Karpuzi earned her bachelor’s degree in history last May—inspired her to deepen her understanding and knowledge about the world, she says. She delved into primary sources that focused on Ottoman, Russian, Japanese and American history.

“My study of history has made me more balanced and objective in my thinking and has allowed me to better understand and connect with people,” she says.

Karpuzi, a literacy specialist who teaches English language learners through the non-profit Literacy New Jersey, will combine all of her passions during her ETA.

“Kosovo offers a history buff like myself the opportunity to experience a place that has been marred by ethnic and religious tension but is now in the midst of great change and transition,” Karpuzi says. “My own life is an example of how easily people can be influenced by the very languages they hear, the books they read, or the people they interact with.”

Justine Lorenz

When her 10 months of teaching English in Germany are complete, Justine Lorenz jokes that she might not return to the U.S.

“I absolutely love the German culture. I feel like it suits my personality,” says Lorenz, who will head to Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany in September to begin her Fulbright ETA with young language learners.

The granddaughter of German immigrants, Lorenz, who graduated in December with degrees in early childhood education and liberal studies and a minor in German, has spent her last two summers in Germany as a live-in English tutor for families with children ages 3 to 12.

The experiences convinced her that her future is in teaching English as a second language. Seeking a Fulbright—“It certainly will be a unique and critically important asset for my professional development as an ESL teacher in the U.S.,” she says—was the perfect decision for Lorenz, who also spent two weeks in India through the College of Education’s “Teach and Discover India” program her junior year.

“I’m good at explaining foreign language concepts to children,” Lorenz says, adding that the India trip demonstrated to her that she has the “travel bug.”

“I can’t wait to go to Germany,” she continues. “It’s one of the best educated countries in the world. Whatever I learn there I can bring back home to make our education better.”

Lorenz is the second Rowan education major in as many years to receive a Fulbright. Last year, Nicole Wyglendowski, an English and elementary education major, earned an ETA to Taiwan.

Boren Awards for International Study

Boren Awards provide funding for undergraduate and graduate students to obtain long-term linguistic and cultural immersion abroad for an entire year. As such, the program’s central mission is to provide the United States government with experts in languages critical to U.S. national security. Recipients of Boren Awards are required to work for the federal government for a year upon completion of the program.

Boren Scholarships for Undergraduates and Fellowships for Graduate Students provide funding for students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests but underrepresented in study abroad.

Tyler Jiang, who graduated in May with degrees in history and international studies and a Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors Concentration in the Honors College, was the first Rowan student to land a Boren Award. Jiang went to China in 2016.

Daquan Washington

Food security, Daquan Washington says, is national security.

“Hunger is both caused by poverty and perpetuates it,” says Washington, a rising senior sociology major from Camden who is completing his degree on Rowan’s Camden campus. “When whole groups of people face this challenge, the regions in which they reside can become unstable.”

Washington’s 10-month Boren Scholarship, which is part of the African Flagship Language Initiative, will take him to Arusha, Tanzania. After taking Swahili and other courses in the fall, he will engage in an internship in the spring working on food justice issues through non-profit organizations such as the Great African Food Company and the Tanzania Agricultural Society. Both groups work with farmers to help them build sustainable careers. Agriculture, Washington notes, drives the economy in Tanzania.

“History has shown us how food insecurity regions with unstable governments can create conditions favorable for the rise and growth of terrorist groups,” says Washington, who will study Swahili intensively for two months at the University of Florida before leaving for Tanzania in August.

“It’s both crucial to national security and morally right for the United States to continue and expand the work it is doing to fight global hunger and food insecurity.”

Upon completion of his Boren and his bachelor’s degree, Washington anticipates working for Feed the Future, a global hunger and food security initiative coordinated by USAID.

In Camden, Washington works with VietLEAD, a non-profit organization that helps high school students learn how to cook, market and grow food. He also started a community farm in the city and recently completed a service trip to Puerto Rico, where he assisted farmers.

“I want to study communities that struggle with food insecurity in hopes of finding humane and sustainable solutions to our problems,” he says.

Ryan Doud

Ryan Doud speaks seven—count them—seven languages.

His Boren Fellowship for the intensive study of Urdu and cultural immersion in Lucknow, India through the South Asian Flagship Language Initiative builds upon his foreign language and communication studies at Rowan.

“I like to combine skill sets,” he says with a grin.

A graduate student in public relations/strategic communication, Doud earned his bachelor’s degree in Spanish, with minors in French, Romance Languages and German, in 2013.

Doud, a Marine Corps veteran who served as a Persian linguist and intelligence analyst in Iraq, has been an English instructor in Russia and Japan. In 2013, he completed a Council of American Overseas Research Centers Critical Language Scholarship to Tajikistan, where he studied Persian and Tajik.

With so many advances in translation and interpretation through computers, linguists are essential for cross-cultural communication, he maintains. Doud, of Williamstown, will study Urdu, which is spoken in Pakistan and parts of northern India, and eventually plans to assist USAID or USDA initiatives to build a solid communication platform to educate and support agricultural workers in Pakistan. The move, he says, will help empower farmers, positively influence the economy and help thwart terrorist influences in rural areas.

“Because of government corruption, poor education systems and unstable market access, Pakistani farmers, who account for up to 40 percent of Pakistan’s workforce, have been vulnerable to influence and coercion by terrorist organizations,” Doud says. “These organizations not only operate within Pakistan, but around the world, representing a genuine threat to the United States’ and global security.”

Doud, who acquired immediate level Urdu proficiency through self-study, will study intermediate intensive Urdu at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this summer before leaving for Lucknow in the fall.

Peace Corps

Founded more than 50 years ago, the Peace Corps is a service opportunity for volunteers to more than 140 countries. Volunteers spend two years in service, immersing themselves in a community abroad and working side-by-side with local leaders to address pressing issues and challenges.

Allayna Nofs

Italy changed Allayna Nofs. Imagine how different she’ll be after her two-year stint in Indonesia with the Peace Corps.

“In Italy, I saw the universality of all people. I learned that a smile or a laugh is universal. We are more similar than we think we are,” says Nofs, who earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Rowan in May. She pursued a Bantivoglio Honors Concentration in the Honors College and minors in sociology and women’s and gender studies.

Nofs learned to love teaching while studying abroad in Florence last spring and working as an English teacher’s aide for elementary school students.

In Indonesia—“I was super lucky to get this placement,” she gushes—Nofs will serve as an English teacher and teacher trainer. She’ll head to California for two days of introductory training before leaving for Indonesia, where she’ll have three months of pre-service training. After that, she’ll be notified of her permanent placement in Indonesia.

The Peace Corps’ mission in Indonesia focuses on cultural understanding, building educational partnerships through English teaching, and participation in secondary programs focusing on youth and community development. English language acquisition is recognized as a means for the country to grow economically and globally.

“I want to use my privilege to make a positive difference in the lives of children who are devoid of the educational opportunities that I have access to,” says Nofs, of Saddle Brook, who will learn to speak Bahasa Indonesian.

“I want to be an active participant in making a positive change, even if that change only affects one community.”

Nofs plans to work on women’s leadership as a secondary program.

“I want to work with UN Women,” says Nofs of the global organization dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment. “Eventually, I want to get into global affairs.”

Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX)

A fellowship funded completely by the German Bundestag and U.S. Department of State, CBYX annually provides 75 American and 75 German young professionals the opportunity to spend one year in each other’s countries, studying, interning, and living with hosts on a cultural immersion program.

The program, which focuses on academic, professional and cultural exchange, includes two months of intensive German language training, four months of classes and a five-month internship.

Mikaela Litchfield

Mikaela Litchfield is the first Rowan student in at least three decades to secure a CBYX fellowship. She plans to make the most of it by working with refugee youth in Germany.

“The fellowship fits completely perfectly for me,” says Litchfield, who earned bachelor’s degrees in history, international studies and Africana Studies from Rowan in May. She also pursued a Bantivoglio Honors Concentration in the Honors College, a concentration in women’s and gender studies, and a minor in German.

In July, Litchfield, who studied abroad last summer at Freie Universität in Berlin, leaves for Germany for two months of intensive language instruction. She’ll then spend a semester studying at a university before beginning a five-month internship, where she’ll work for a non-governmental organization for refugee youth. Germany has opened its doors to refugees, particularly those from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Her fellowship and its focus stems from her humanities studies at Rowan—and her vast internship experience. Litchfield worked with South Jersey non-profit organizations that included the Alice Paul Institute, Catholic Charities’ refugee and immigration services, and Hopeworks ’N Camden. The work informed her studies, preparing for her global service, she says.

“I have a better grip on the world now than when I came to Rowan,” says Litchfield, of Sparta. “I’ve absolutely loved what I’ve learned. Now, I feel I have the context to translate that into a career. I’m interested in advocacy and education. And I love non-profits with an educational mission.”

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University Research Internship (OIST)

The fully funded, highly competitive OSIT internship in Japan offers talented interns two- to six-month internships in fields ranging from chemistry to marine sciences to neuroscience to physics to molecular, cell and developmental biology. Interns work with an OIST professor to learn specific laboratory techniques and to contribute to the research activities of cooperating scientists at the institute.

Taylor Douglas

Taylor Douglas is a rising senior biophysics major who is pursuing minors in physics and Asian studies and a certificate of undergraduate studies in Japanese.

Sound incongruous? Not so for Douglas, whose study-what-you-love approach to her undergraduate education made her the perfect selection for a committee of scientists choosing students from around the world for the coveted, two-and-a-half-month OIST research internship.

In May, Douglas, of Willingboro, left for Japan, where she’s studying light-matter interactions in the laboratory of OSIT Physics Professor Síle Nic Chormaic. In an optics-focused research lab, Douglas is immersed in a few projects, including one that involves constructing an optical nanofiber to study liquid solvent samples that demonstrate nonlinear optical properties.

Her biophysics studies are a way, Douglas says, to help others. Her interest in Japanese stems from her love of anime.

“I’m interested in biophysics because I’m able to do research to find new ways to help people,” says Douglas, who works in the lab of Biophysics Professor Nathaniel Nucci and also has conducted research with Physics Professor Tabbetha Dobbins.

“This is a great opportunity for me because I can use my Japanese skills, build connections and improve my research.”

Douglas learned of the internship when she presented her research at the Conference for Undergraduate Underrepresented Minorities in Physics last fall at the University of Maryland. A Maryland graduate student urged her to apply.

Upon completion of her Rowan studies, Douglas anticipates pursuing a doctorate in biophysics.

The National Science Foundation-International Research Experiences for Students

“The International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program supports international research and research-related activities for U.S. science and engineering students. The IRES program contributes to development of a diverse, globally-engaged workforce with world-class skills. IRES focuses on active research participation by undergraduate or graduate students in high-quality international research, education and professional development experiences in NSF-funded research areas. “ (National Science Foundation)

Craig Roberts

Craig Roberts misses the pizza at home but loves the opportunities he is having in Singapore this summer.

Roberts, of Penns Grove, is one of five students from three universities spending 10 weeks conducting research in physics in the Southeast Asian country almost 10,000 miles from Glassboro.

The 30-year-old rising senior physics major is working with Prof. Rainer Dumke at the Center for Quantum Technology at Nanyang Technological University, building a fast switching system to program superconducting qubits (quantum bits) with radio-frequency signals.  

He is there for 10 weeks as part of a program coordinated by Dr. Michael Lim, a professor of physics at Rowan. The National Science Foundation-International Research Experiences for Students program awarded Lim a $243,756 grant for his project “Philadelphia-Singapore Optics Research Experience for Undergraduates” last year. The three-year grant funds round-trip transportation, housing and living costs for the students.

A former Marine, helicopter mechanic and president of Rowan’s Physics Club, Roberts landed the position along with students from Temple University and Bryn Mawr College, who are working side by side with other students from around the world.

“I applied for this because it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.  I’ve always wanted to travel, and the research sounded fascinating. I know very little about quantum computing, so I’m learning a lot,” Roberts said.

Roberts, who plans to get a position working in either physics or aviation after graduation, does note that outside of the research the best thing about Singapore is the food  -- “Chinese food, Indian food, Thai food, it’s all delicious. I do miss pizza, though.”