Ursinus seniors Ashley Green and Martina Dzuna have both received Fulbright awards that will allow them to explore international cultures and further their academic study. The prestigious Fulbright program distributes just 1,600 awards to U.S. students annually.
Green is a Sociology major who will be teaching English to middle or high school students in New Delhi, India. Her fascination with India and interest in the Fulbright program began when she met an Indian man on an airplane who would later become her fiancée. At the time, he was working as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant, and told her about the program and the culture. Since then, she has spent a summer visiting in India.
“Going back this time, for Fulbright, is going to be very different,” she said, “and I’m really excited for it. I’m dreading the heat, but I can’t wait to be back in a place where time is cyclica
l and things are not so rushed.”
Studying abroad in India and in South Africa has changed her thinking about changing others. While interested in helping less developed nations, she says change has to come from within. “More than anything,” Green says, “I want to engage in a cultural exchange in which the students teach me about India, and I teach them about the United States. That is the mission of Fulbright, to create cross-cultural understanding.”
Ursinus’ second Fulbright, Martina Dzuna, is an Environmental Studies and German double major, who will be traveling to Freiburg University in Germany to continue the research on gathering that she started at Ursinus. Under the tutelage of Dr. Patrick Hurley, assistant professor of environmental studies, she has been investigating non-timber forest product gathering in the Philadelphia area, which includes plants, nuts, and fungi. These can be used in many different ways, from food to craft materials. In addition to the research that she has done in the area, Dzuna also has experience gathering with her family in Slovakia.
She chose Environmental Studies as a major, she said, “because the interdisciplinary approach that Environmental Studies takes has been perfect for me, since it combines science with policy, which interests me more than just pure science. It tends to be a more complete way of approaching complex problems such as climate change or environmental degradation.”
Both students credited their professors for guiding them to their current success. Dzuna described how Professor of German Dr. Robin Clouser encouraged her to apply for the Fulbright program, and how Dr. Hurley’s research contacts in Germany helped to move her project forward. “Having small classes allows you to build better relationships with your professors, which opens up a lot of opportunities you may not otherwise have,” she says.
Green echoed her classmate’s praise of the small, personal atmosphere at Ursinus. Her first memory at Ursinus is that of the late President John Strassburger, smiling at her and greeting her by name. “The transformation I have undergone since setting foot on campus my freshman year is tremendous,” she said, “not just academically, but personally too.” – By David Hysek 2011