Nine University of Nebraska–Lincoln students have been chosen as Fulbright recipients for the 2020-21 academic year. Two other students have been named alternates.
The Fulbright Program, established in 1946 and funded by the U.S. Department of State, is designed to foster understanding between the United States and other countries. The U.S. Student Fulbright program gives recent graduates, graduate students and young professionals the opportunity to conduct research, study or teach in more than 160 designated countries.
Fulbright recipients also serve as cultural ambassadors, representing the United States abroad. This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, all Fulbright experiences will begin after Jan. 1, 2021.
Laura Damuth, fellowship adviser at Nebraska, said she is thrilled with the Fulbright results and that the students’ success speaks to the university’s preparation.
“The students who were selected to go abroad on these Fulbright awards all took advantage of study abroad programs and other opportunities that made them very competitive for the award,” she said.
The Fulbright recipients are:
- Taylor Baldwin — Baldwin, a St. Joseph, Missouri, native and Benton High School graduate, is an elementary education major. She is the recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to India. The future educator hopes to serve as an educational and cultural liaison between India and the United States. For her, this is an opportunity to “promote the philosophy of valuing and understanding similarities that connect us globally.” As an undergraduate, she has completed practicums in Lincoln Public Schools and Omaha Public Schools, with an emphasis on teaching English as a Second Language. She has twice visited India. Most recently, she lived in Maharashtra, where she helped teach at an English-medium school. Baldwin has also served as a literacy tutor through the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. In addition to teaching, Baldwin hopes to volunteer in her host community through a local organization, such as Commit2Change. The organization seeks to make educational opportunities more accessible to young women and girls from marginalized or susceptible groups.
- Cheyenne Gerlach — Gerlach, a DeWitt native who attended Tri County Junior-Senior High School, has been awarded a Fulbright to pursue a master’s degree in development and rural innovation at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Gerlach wrote her own curriculum during her sophomore year at Nebraska, combining agriculture, social entrepreneurship and international issues. She became interested in the Wageningen program because of its strong contribution to agriculture. “The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has allowed me to take a progressive, holistic approach to my education, which has ultimately prepared me for the Fulbright and Wageningen more than any other experience I’ve had,” she said. In addition to her academic achievements, Gerlach has been highly engaged with the global community. She has studied abroad and conducted research in South Africa, Benin, Kenya and Uganda. Since entrepreneurship has been a cornerstone of her education and professional experience, Gerlach is interested in continuing this while abroad. While in the Netherlands, she plans to get involved with StartLife, an organization that empowers local entrepreneurs in Wageningen to build and grow startups in the food and agriculture sectors.
- Emily Johnson — Johnson, a graduate of Lincoln Southeast High School, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain. As a political science, Spanish and global studies major, she applied for the Fulbright program to better understand the Spanish language, compare and contrast the immigration policies between countries and increase her intercultural perspective. Johnson is active in the community and within the University Honors Program. As an undergraduate, she served as a policy subcommittee chair for the Government Liaison Committee and volunteered for Launch Leadership. She also served as president of the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska, student regent on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, an appointee for the Council on Inclusive Excellence and Diversity and acting secretary for the Black Masque Chapter of Mortar Board. Johnson also has been involved with community-based organizations such as Lincoln Literacy, where she helped teach citizenship classes to immigrants. In summer 2018, Johnson studied in Bilbao, Spain. Now she will have the opportunity to return to Spain to teach and volunteer. When she returns, she plans to attend law school.
- Miranda Kuzela — Kuzela, a graduate of Papillion-La Vista South High School, is majoring in Russian, political science, Spanish and global studies. She has received a Fulbright award to teach English in Russia. Kuzela has been awarded several national scholarships already: the Gilman Award to study in Kazakhstan; the Critical Language Award to study Russian in Vladimir, Russia; and the Boren scholarship to study Russian in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She applied for the Fulbright because “it allows me to combine my love for language learning and teaching with my interest in intercultural understanding. I really want to hone these skills through this experience and apply them to my future desired career in the Foreign Service.” In preparation for her teaching, Kuzela has been a volunteer English tutor through Lincoln Literacy, a local nonprofit that provides free English language training to immigrants. She has also been a teaching assistant for Russian courses at Nebraska and a Russian tutor. Outside of the classroom in Russia, Kuzela plans to host a weekly or biweekly film club where she will screen American movies and lead discussions.
- Michaela Luckey — Luckey, a 2018 Husker graduate, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain. A graduate of York Community High School, she now lives and works in the Chicago area as an editorial associate at the University of Chicago Press. While at Nebraska, Luckey majored in English with a business minor. One university experience that made her think about pursuing English teaching was her time at the Writing Center. Working there, especially with international students, solidified her interest in language learning and ultimately pursuing a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate. Luckey applied for a Fulbright in Spain because she wanted to become fluent in Spanish and find a program that fit her skill set. She found a perfect opportunity with a program in Madrid that was looking for teachers who could work in their writing center. When she returns to the United States, she hopes to find work as a TEFL teacher in the Chicago area and eventually begin a Master of Education program. She hopes to become a bilingual secondary education teacher in Illinois.
- Maddie Maschka — Maschka has received a Fulbright award to teach English in Spain. A graduate of Lincoln Southwest High School, she is majoring in biological sciences. She is also a member of the University Honors Program. Maschka hopes to use this Fulbright experience to develop her knowledge and awareness of Spanish culture, as well as enhance and refine her Spanish language skills. She also wants to connect with individuals from different backgrounds than her own. She applied for the fellowship to prepare for a future in global health. Maschka has had extensive international experiences. In 2017, she traveled to Uswaa, Tanzania, on a medical mission trip to offer support and provide student scholarship funds. She learned much about the Chaga tribal culture and started to pick up Swahili. The next summer, she studied abroad in Barranquilla, Colombia, where she studied public health, the Spanish language and Colombian culture. Through this trip, she gained first-hand exposure to local communities and methods of distributing health care by visiting government and privately funded organizations, as well as supplemental facilities and programs.
- Dana Moze-Kadavy — Moze-Kadavy, a Cortland native and graduate of Norris High School, graduated from Nebraska in May 2019 with a degree in global studies. She has been awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Malaysia. Having lived in India for a year on a Boren scholarship to learn Hindi, she is looking forward to continuing her work in Asia and further engaging with its people, languages and cultures. Moze-Kadavy has taught English as a Second Language through Southeast Community College for the past year. She prepares vocabulary lists, organizes class materials, leads discussions and assists her co-teacher. As a language student herself, she understands how important it is to connect language learning to areas of interest and daily life. Since many of her SCC students are refugee mothers, she works to make sure they are building a vocabulary they can use every day. Moze-Kadavy wants to use her Fulbright to give rural students access to resources that were not available to her growing up in rural Nebraska. She also wants to teach English that is relevant to their daily lives. She plans to offer weekly after-school geography classes focused on the United States.
- Rose Wehrman — A graduate of Kenesaw High School, Wehrman has been awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Bulgaria. She will graduate this May from the College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in English. She is also a member of the University Honors Program. Wehrman chose Bulgaria because of its local identity and mosaic of Western and Eastern influences. In addition, she is interested in how Bulgaria preserves it history and heritage. She has studied abroad in Morocco and spent some time in Europe. She hopes to gain diverse teaching experience before beginning a career in education policy. She plans to attend law school. During her Fulbright, Wehrman hopes to volunteer with the Bulgarian Trust for Social Achievement, which works to decrease achievement gaps among minority groups, such as the Roma.
- Rachael Lux — Lux, of Ponca, was offered a Fulbright grant to teach English in Indonesia; however, that program has been suspended for this year. Lux will graduate this May from the College of Education and Human Sciences with a degree in nutrition science and will then attend the Ohio State University College of Optometry. She plans to become an optometrist and eventually go into academia. A significant part of Lux’s interest in the Fulbright program began when she went on a study abroad trip with Mary Willis to Zambia in summer 2018. There she shadowed ophthalmologists and an optometrist at local hospitals. She was able to watch doctors perform a wide range of surgeries and see their holistic approach to medicine. She has also conducted independent research on the effects of vitamin A deficiency and its impact on a person’s vision.
Two Husker students received Fulbright alternate status, which means they could be offered a Fulbright award at any time. They are Conner Kozisek, to teach in Colombia, and Sarah Sweeney, to conduct research in Germany. Kozisek plans to enter law school at New York University, and Sweeney plans to attend medical school.