University of Pennsylvania’s Fulbright grant recipients for the 2022-23 academic year include 18 graduating seniors, from left: (top row) Aishwarya Balaji, Lilian Chen, Ria Chinchankar, Amira Chowdhury, Luke Coleman, Sonali Deliwala; (middle row) Alice Heyeh; Robin Hu, J’Aun Johnson, Jordyn Kaplan, Erin Kraskewicz, Shaila Lothe; (bottom row) Brendan Lui, Rebecca Morse, Kaitlyn Rentala, Anyara Rodriguez, Stefan Tomov, Irene Yee (Photo from PennToday).
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, known as the Fulbright Scholarship, is an international academic exchange program that was established in 1946 and is sponsored by the United States government. It awards grants to students that fund up to 12 months of international study, research, or teaching.
Each year, approximately 8,000 students from the U.S. and 160 countries around the world are awarded scholarships. Students must have received a bachelor’s degree prior to the start of their grant to be eligible for the program.
This year, Penn Fulbright students come from diverse academic backgrounds, spanning topics such as medicine to political science and international affairs.
2022 College graduate Aishwarya Balaji is from Frankfort, Ky., and earned a Fulbright grant to conduct research at the German Primate Center. She majored in psychology and minored in chemistry.
Balaji said that her undergraduate research and lab work influenced her decision to conduct research abroad.
“I started to hone my interests through these experiences and realized that I’m interested in learning about social dynamics in primates and the evolutionary mechanisms that are involved in primate cognition,” Balaji said.
Along with primate research, Balaji is excited to learn about a new culture and learn more about “what makes German culture unique and what they value in their culture.”
2022 College graduate Sonali Deliwala is from Yardley, Pa., and plans to utilize her Fulbright grant to conduct research in India. Deliwala will focus on economic development for marginalized communities within the country’s state of Gujarat. She majored in political science and economics and minored in creative writing.
Deliwala explained how her coursework at Penn, much of which focuses on international development and South Asian Studies, has prepared her for research in Gujarat.
“The Fulbright represents the ability to gain proximity to my country of origin and gain on the ground, first-hand experience of what’s happening in India,” Deliwala added.
2022 College graduate Luke Coleman is from Dayton, Ohio, and was awarded a Fulbright grant to teach English in Spain. He majored in PPE and minored in Hispanic studies as well as survey research & data analytics.
Coleman’s interest in public policy and educational equity came from his coursework and experiences at Penn’s student organizations. Coleman explained that he had the chance to teach middle schoolers virtually during the pandemic, furthering his passion for education.
In addition to teaching, Coleman said that he is interested in helping with refugee relief and anti-homelessness policy in Spain. He shared that he chose the country because of the country’s legacy of colonialism and desire to work with Spanish in a European setting, opposed to the Latin and South American forms of the language that he’s used to.
For Coleman, Fulbright signifies an “opportunity to allow students to see someone they might not see reflected in an educational space.”
2022 Wharton and Nursing graduate Lilian Chen is from San Jose, Calif., and received a Fulbright grant to teach English in Taiwan. She majored in nursing and healthcare management.
Chen found her passion for teaching through interning with a Japanese teaching company, where she “taught English and writing classes to students, both in America as well as in China.”
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“Teaching really allows you to get involved with your students’ lives and allows you to be a part of a different community in a different country,” Chen said.
Chen aims to be trilingual in Mandarin, Japanese, and English as well as work as a pediatric nurse and get involved abroad in medical missions.
Chen stated that she is excited to “inspire children, especially the younger generation, to learn a language not just for the future of your academic success and career but because it allows you to meet so many new people … and realize the world is a lot bigger than yourself.”