USC has been named one of the country’s top producers of U.S. Fulbright students for the ninth straight year.
Twenty-five USC students received the prestigious grant during the 2020-21 award cycle. That’s the most Fulbright student award recipients produced by USC since the 2008-2009 cycle. USC joined only 17 other colleges and universities named as top producing institutions this year.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards recipients one-year grants to study, conduct research or teach English around the world. The program was created to improve understanding between people of different countries. It is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of State, and awards are given to about 2,200 students each year.
USC produced more Fulbright students this year than any school in California, including Stanford University, UCLA and University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, 31% of USC applicants were awarded Fulbrights, exceeding success rates at Harvard and Yale universities.
Experts at USC Academic Honors and Fellowships help USC students seeking competitive fellowships and other prestigious programs by conducting mock interviews, essay reviews and other advice.
Below is a list of 24 of USC’s 25 grant recipients for the 2020-21 cycle, as released to The Chronicle of Higher Education on Monday; one recipient wished to remain anonymous. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some students in this group deferred their awards, others declined and other recipients applied for the next cycle to be considered again.
USC Fulbright students 2020-21
Lena Aloumari graduated in May 2017 with a Master of Arts in Teaching from the USC Rossier School of Education. Aloumari was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, where she will focus on teaching English to Jordanian university and secondary school students. She will also research access to quality education for disenfranchised communities.
Natalie Balladarsch graduated in December 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in public relations and a minor in Spanish from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Balladarsch was awarded a Fulbright grant to Spain, where she will teach at a university in Madrid. She will examine the impact of immigrant communities on Spanish culture and develop an international dance project in Madrid. Balladarsch plans to pursue a global career with an emphasis on diversity of thought and experience.
Yasmin Barkett graduated from USC Dornsife in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and a minor in psychology and law. Barkett was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to Colombia, where she will serve as a teaching assistant at a university. She also hopes to teach free English classes in the local community and bridge the opportunity gaps between those attending a university and those who cannot. The Stockton native plans to pursue a career in international education development.
Dillon Brown graduated from USC Dornsife in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in political economy and a Bachelor of Science in public policy and law. Brown was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to Greece, where he will teach students at local schools in Athens. He plans to pursue a career in public policy, focusing on education and other economic social issues.
Alex Bruno graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and a minor in the dynamics of early childhood from USC Dornsife. Bruno was awarded a Fulbright research grant to Poland to study fetal cardiology, analyzing how time of diagnosis affects long term outcomes for children with congenital heart defects. He plans to apply to medical school and pursue a career in cardiothoracic surgery.
Ashley Chainani graduated in December 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the USC Marshall School of Business. Chainani was awarded a Fulbright grant to Spain, where she will teach English and explore how Spain’s educational system allows for intergenerational socioeconomic mobility. She plans to pursue a career in public policy or nonprofit work.
Lisa de Ràfols graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and international relations with a minor in French. A Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award will enable de Ràfols to travel to Colombia, and she will use a Boren Scholarship to learn Portuguese in Brazil. She plans to pursue a career in international economic development, focusing on sustainability and forced migration.
Nathan Duong graduated from USC Dornsife in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in cognitive science and a minor in the dynamics of early childhood. He was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant to the Canary Islands in Spain in an early childhood classroom. He plans to start a surf program as a means of allowing his students to practice their English in a natural setting.
Marisa Fuse graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts from USC Dornsife in international relations and law, history and culture. She was awarded a Fulbright teaching grant to South Korea, where she will teach English and explore the cross-cultural connections between the U.S. and Korea. After her fellowship, she plans to go into public policy and focus on criminal justice reform.
Eva Isakovic graduated in December 2020 with a USC Dornsife degree in economics as a Trustee Scholar. She was awarded a Boren Scholarship to study Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian in Belgrade, Serbia, and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. After graduation, she will return to Sarajevo with a Fulbright research grant to examine the persisting effects of civil war on Bosnian political engagement and economic health. Eva plans to pursue a doctorate in comparative politics and hopes to work on future ethnic reconciliation and democratization policy in areas affected by conflict.
Abigail Jackson graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in computational neuroscience and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. The USC Dornsife alumna was awarded a Fulbright research grant to Germany, where she will work with bioprocess engineer Yvonne Genzel’s team at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems. She plans to pursue a doctorate after her Fulbright grant period.
Ichigo Mina Kaneko is a doctoral candidate in comparative studies in literature and culture at USC. Kaneko was awarded a Fulbright grant to Japan for doctoral dissertation research on the role and symbolism of the mushroom in Japanese literature and media after WWII. She is a recipient of the Provost’s Fellowship and a candidate for the Translation Studies and Visual Studies Research Institute.
Nayanika Kapoor graduated from USC in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science, with a minor in East Asian languages and cultures. Nayanika was awarded a Fulbright grant to Taiwan, where she will be teaching English. She plans to pursue a career in political communication and policy focusing on race and gender.
Catherine Knox graduated from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in environmental engineering with a minor in international relations. Knox was awarded a Fulbright graduate study grant to attend Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands to pursue a master’s degree in environment and resource management, specializing in water and society. She plans to pursue a career in transboundary water management, focused on the integration of technology with water policy.
Aarohi Mahableshwarkar graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and a minor in natural science from USC Dornsife. Mahableshwarkar was awarded a Fulbright research grant to India, where she will examine the efficacy of government policies in supporting the proliferation of opioid addiction treatment. She plans to earn a medical degree and pursue a career in global health, working at the nexus of health care, science and policy.
Kristen Mascarenhas graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and a minor in health policy. Mascarenhas was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to India. She plans to attend medical school and pursue a career as a pediatrician, focusing on issues of health equity and education.
Jenna Mazza graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and Spanish. She was awarded a Fulbright research grant to Spain to investigate the individual impact of Barcelona’s asylum policies on refugees in the city. The USC Dornsife alumna plans to pursue a career in international development with a focus on gender and forced migration policy.
Chinyere Nwodim graduated in May 2020 with a Master of Fine Arts in writing for the screen and television in the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She received a Fulbright research award to Brazil, where she will explore how the synthesis of Brazil’s many cultural identities is represented in science fiction and fantasy and what these stories reveal about deeper fears, myths and hopes. She plans to pursue a career as a writer and filmmaker.
Gregory Randolph is a doctoral candidate in urban planning and development at the USC Price School of Public Policy. He was awarded a Fulbright research fellowship for his dissertation work on rural-to-urban transitions in India.
Jorge Sandoval graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in interactive entertainment game design and a minor in computer programming. Sandoval was awarded a Fulbright English teacher grant to Mexico, where he will teach English through the use of computer programming and video games. He plans to pursue a career in Foreign Service.
Michael Smith graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Smith was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Fellowship in Bulgaria, where he will teach high school students English. After his fellowship he plans on pursuing a law degree with an emphasis in international law.
Kurtis Weatherford graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and political economy with a minor in human security and geospatial intelligence. He was awarded a Fulbright teaching grant to Greece, where he will teach English while exploring opportunities to work in refugee and climate resilience education. The USC Dornsife alumnus plans to pursue graduate education and a career in public policy with a focus on climate and migration policy.
Melissa Xu aims to graduate with a master’s in global medicine from the Keck School of Medicine of USC after receiving a bachelor’s in neuroscience and a minor in Spanish from USC Dornsife. She received a Fulbright grant to teach English in Ecuador, where she also hopes to serve as a health volunteer, especially after the effects of COVID-19. She plans to pursue a future in medicine focusing on limited resource health care.
Sarah Yeomans plans to graduate from USC this year with a doctorate in art history. She is an archaeologist who specializes in medical practices, technologies and the impact of pandemic events in ancient Rome. Yeomans was awarded a Fulbright research fellowship to Turkey, where she conducts archaeological research at Rhodiapolis, a Graeco-Roman city with a large medical complex that dates to the second century C.E.