Oxy Marks 10th Year As Top Fulbright Producer

Thorne Hall

For the tenth consecutive year, Occidental College is one of the country's top producers of student Fulbright Awards, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education's annual Fulbright rankings. 

Eleven Occidental College seniors and alumni won Fulbrights in 2015 to work and study in nine countries on four continents. The 11 are among 85 Occidental students and alumni who have won Fulbrights since 2003.

Occidental ranked ninth overall among liberal arts colleges, according to the Chronicle rankings, ahead of such colleges as Swarthmore, Wellesley, Macalester, Carleton, and Claremont McKenna.

"Part of Oxy’s mission is to produce global citizens, and you see that reflected in the wide range of majors among our Fulbrights – everything from chemistry to religious studies," said Kim Babon, director of national awards and fellowships. "Just going through the application process -- reflecting on their values, critically assessing their skills, crystallizing their goals, and conveying all of these qualities convincingly in one page or less -- develops skills and insights that last a lifetime."

Occidental’s 2015 Fulbright award winners are:

  • Alexander Ayala ’15, a kinesiology major from Sacramento, who was sent to Spain with an English teaching assistant grant
  • James Blackett ’15, an economics major from Sammamish, Wash., to Mexico with an English teaching assistant grant
  • Breiana Caldwell-Pledger ’13, a psychology major from Denver, to Greece with an English teaching assistant grant
  • Dorothy Gray ’15, a sociology major from Albany, to Malaysia with an English teaching assistant grant
  • Kyle Fukui ’15, a biochemistry major from Saratoga, to Chile with a research grant to study public health issues
  • Andrea Hernandez ’13, a sociology major from San Francisco, to Brazil with an English teaching assistant grant
  • Hyeong-Jin Kim ’15, a biochemistry major from San Jose, to Finland with a research grant to study biology
  • Anton Molina ’15, a chemistry and physics double major from Daly City, to Germany to with a research grant to study chemistry
  • Carlina Perna ’15, a religious studies and Spanish studies double major from San Diego, to Brazil with an English teaching assistant grant
  • Manna Selassie ’14, a diplomacy and world affairs major from Trenton, N.J., to Taiwan with an English teaching assistant grant
  • Caroline Szweda ’14, a critical theory and social justice major from Quito, Ecuador, to Spain with an English teaching assistant grant

The 2015 Fulbright candidates worked with an interdisciplinary group of program advisors— Huss Banai, assistant professor of diplomacy and world affairs (DWA); Chemistry Professor Chris Craney; Laura Hebert, associate professor of DWA; Robby Moore, Elbridge Amos Stuart Professor of Economics; Clair Morrissey, assistant professor of philosophy; La Mont Terry, associate professor of education; and English Professor Raul Villa--as well as a larger group of dozens of faculty mentors.

"Oxy’s success with the Fulbright program is a reflection of the strong academic training applicants receive while at Oxy and our personal, holistic, individualized approach to advising candidates through the application process," Babon said. 

The Fulbright program, which covers travel, education and living expenses, was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.