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Rollins features eleven Fulbright Scholarship semi-finalists

Eleven Rollins students are semi-finalists for the Fulbright Scholarship in the 2022-23 school year. Fulbright is a state department program which offers funds for sending students abroad.

“The mission of the Fulbright is to create mutual understanding and promote mutual exchange between the U.S. and other countries,” said Director of Fellowships Danielle Abdon.

According to Abdon, there are two program options within Fulbright: the English teaching assistant program and the study and research program. There are no GPA or major requirements. Students apply for the program in the fall, and semi-finalists are chosen by a national screening committee.

This year, the semi-finalists are Socorro Torres Lopez (’23), Sarah Skala (’23), Sendy Sejourne (’23), Tiffany Smeal (’23), Cydney Adams (’23), Sarah Bennefield (’23), Capri Gutiérrez (23’), Kerren Dieuveille (’23), Dillon deKalands (’23), Pilar Brooks (’23), and Rachael Rittichier (’23). Each of them plan to study in a different country for various reasons.

Dillon deKalands (’23), an English and environmental studies double major, plans to study in Indonesia as an English teaching assistant. He has many possible ideas for his project, including starting a community garden or organizing beach cleanup initiatives. He is also considering starting a book club or relating his project to music.

“In Indonesia, I could come up with the best argument because there’s a lot of shoreline issues, there’s a lot of saltwater intrusion into the aquifer, and that’s stuff Florida deals with too,” said deKalands.

International relations major Capri Gutiérrez (’23), plans to study in Uganda with the research program. Gutiérrez decided on Uganda after she studied abroad during her junior year and met a group of former child soldiers.

“There’s something like 30,000 children that were kidnapped at a very young age in the Northern Ugandan War, and after they returned, a lot of them were left with zero support,” said Gutiérrez.

She was told that the government needed a database of these soldiers, and she later discovered that she could conduct research for this project through Fulbright.

“The goal is to just have a list of all of them, who they are, and then give that to the government and NGOs so that they can better support them,” Gutiérrez said.

A third semi-finalist, Socorro Torres Lopez (’23), plans to partake in the study program in Mexico.

“Ever since I can remember I’ve had this fascination in the intersection between cultures, specifically Mexico and the United States,” said Lopez.

A double major in international relations and sociology, she intends to study Mexico-United States studies at a university, where her master’s degree will be fully funded.

Lopez mentioned the support she has received throughout the process of applying.

“I think I’ve had more than ten professors help me along this whole journey, and they’ve all been so selfless through it,” Lopez said.  

Besides having the support system, students decide to apply to Fulbright for a variety of other reasons. Many are drawn to the study abroad aspect and the opportunity to engage in their field of interest.

“Regardless of what you want to do, it’s incredible professional development, because you’re essentially working in a foreign country for close to a full year,” Abdon said.

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