Fifteen Alumni Win 2012-13 Fulbrights to Study Abroad

Fifteen recent Duke graduates are studying, conducting research and teaching English abroad during the 2012-2013 academic year, as Fulbright scholars, and administrators in The Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows hope the success of these Duke students will encourage others to apply for the U.S. government's flagship international educational exchange program.   

"Duke students have historically competed extremely successfully for Fulbright scholarships because they ask excellent research questions, have strong foundations in disciplinary methodologies, speak many languages, and are deeply committed to civic engagement," said Karin Shapiro, Duke's Fulbright faculty program adviser who teaches in the history department and was herself a Fulbright Scholar from South Africa.

For the ninth consecutive year, Duke has been recognized as one of the top 20 institutions in the U.S. that produce the most Fulbright scholars, according to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Almost 1,700 American students in more than 100 different fields of study were offered grants to study in over 140 countries this fall.  

Duke's high number of Fulbright grant recipients results from great applications from the students and a strong support team of faculty and senior staff who mentor students, write letters of recommendations and assist with the interview process, Shapiro said.

Still, sometimes Duke seniors don't think of applying -- or think that the awards aren't for humanities majors.

In fact, several humanities students are among this year's recipients.  Shining Li, T'12, majored in English and works as an English Teaching Assistant in Bulgaria. Tyler Hayes, T'12, is a biology/French and Italian Studies major studying medicine sciences in Switzerland.

Ryan Brown, T'11, majored in history and used her 2011-2012 grant to conduct research in South Africa.

''I lived for 12 months in Johannesburg, researching the life of Nat Nakasa, a black South African protest writer from the 1950s,'' said Brown, who visited Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland, as well as many parts of South Africa.  ''I also did freelance journalism projects, including a couple of major articles about South African universities for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

"In the course of my research, I frequently found myself face-to-face with some of the most esteemed journalists of apartheid-era South Africa, acerbically clever men and women whose finesse as social critics reminded me of the powerful role journalists have to play in any society. The experience reaffirmed my own commitment to working in journalism," Brown said.  


Duke's 2012-2013 Fulbright recipients, their countries and work include:

Tosin Agbabiaka -- Belgium and Greece -- federalism and asylums

Hannah Chartoff -- Egypt -- language and literature

Kaveh Danesh -- China -- public health

Lisa Deng -- Malaysia -- public health

Christopher Grigsby -- Singapore -- biomedical engineering

Tyler Hayes -- Switzerland -- medical sciences

Lauren Hendricks -- Mongolia -- English as a second language

Jessica Kim -- South Korea -- anthropology

Shining Li -- Bulgaria -- English as a second language

Christina Mobley -- France -- history and culture

Kate Newman -- South Korea -- English as a second language

Mikael Owunna -- Taiwan -- English as a second language

Will Passo -- Taiwan -- English as a second language

Ashley Thomson -- Vietnam -- engineering

Megan Weinand -- Mexico -- English as a second language

Duke students interested in applying for the Fulbright Scholarship may contact Karin Shapiro, Duke's Fulbright program advisor or Babs Wise, associate director of the Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows at For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit