CSB graduates earn Fulbright scholarships

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August 6, 2007

Two May graduates from the College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, have received Fulbright commissions to work in Thailand and Mexico.

Eve Vang (St. Paul, Minn.; Arlington High School) has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student scholarship to Thailand in Teaching English as A Foreign Language. Vang is believed to be the first student from the College of Saint Benedict or Saint John’s University to be a participant in the Thailand program.

Carliene Quist (St. Cloud, Minn.; Cathedral High School) has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student scholarship to conduct research and an internship project in Mexico.

A political science major at CSB, Vang will teach English to middle school students outside Bangkok for six months starting in mid-September. While there, she hopes to have time to conduct a “small research project on the side” that will focus on Hmong students who have traveled from their villages to Bangkok to pursue higher education. When opportunities allow, she plans to volunteer with the Hmong hill tribes for an extra month or two.

“Personally, I am taking the journey to Thailand because I want to immerse myself back into my Hmong culture – its traditions, language and the people,” Vang said. “Culture is a large part of my identity and without it, I could not be me.

“While in Thailand, I hope to expand my Hmong vocabulary, in addition to the Thai language I’ll pick up while I’m there,” Vang said. “I hope to learn about the economic, cultural and political issues of the Hmong in Thailand.

A Spanish and peace studies double major, Quist – a grantee of the Fulbright “All (Academic) Disciplines Award” – receives funding for nine months to carry out her proposed project in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which is located just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Quist will combine coursework pertaining specifically to gender, social intervention and the U.S.-Mexico border region with research on effective community social programming in order to develop a report on best practices for promoting gender equity and violence prevention on the local community level. Quist will work directly with Casa Amiga to study the organization’s community gender violence prevention programs and consider various ways to implement the best practices.

Casa Amiga is a community organization which offers free professional services to individuals and families who experience situations of violence as well as programs to promote a society free of gender violence.

“In a city plagued with gender violence and a history of gender discrimination significantly and adversely affecting both men and women, Casa Amiga is in a position to expand significantly its programming for the prevention of gender violence and discrimination, and I will work to be a part of this expansion,” Quist said.

Both graduates mentioned international study as a key component of why they decided to apply for the programs.

Vang noted that both CSB and SJU have long been recognized for its international study programs. CSB/SJU was ranked No. 2 nationally among baccalaureate institutions for total number of study abroad students. About six in 10 CSB students study internationally before they graduate, a participation rate nearly twice the national average for liberal arts colleges.

“I think it is so important to travel and go beyond one’s own comfort zone into a strange place that would be difficult to adjust to – it is exactly the sort of experience where a person will find the most cherished and meaningful lessons,” Vang said. “As the first CSB/SJU student to receive a Fulbright to Thailand, I hope to spark some interest among others that will bring them to Asia.”

Quist said the Fulbright award is a “rich opportunity” for her in terms of her personal interests, academic pursuits and professional development.

“Ever since I studied and lived in Chile for a half year in 2005, I have been craving opportunities to live, travel and study abroad. I am currently filled with anticipation, excitement and questions as I prepare to once again move to a new country and move into histories, cultures, traditions and contexts of life which are different from my own,” Quist said.

“Fulbright’s mission of fostering and deepening ‘mutual understanding’ among people across political and cultural ties is one of my most important values,” Quist said.

The Fulbright Program in Thailand is jointly sponsored by the U.S. and Thai governments. The program is the largest U.S. international exchange program, offering opportunities for American and foreign students, scholars and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.           

The program, established in 1946, lists over 279,500 participants from both the U.S. and foreign countries. Vang and Quist will be two of over 1,300 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2007-08 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program in over 150 countries worldwide.

Four CSB/SJU graduates will teach in the Austrian Ministry of Education Teaching Assistantship program administered by the Fulbright Commission in Vienna.

CSB graduate Laura Wunsch (Edina, Minn.) and SJU graduates Mark Bublitz (Brainerd, Minn.), Erik Hendrickson (St. Louis Park, Minn.) and David Lambert (Blaine, Minn.) will teach in Austria during the 2007-08 academic year. A fourth SJU graduate, Ryan Fader (Willmar, Minn.), was accepted into the Austrian program, but chose instead to attend medical school at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Wunsch graduated May 12 from CSB, while Bublitz, Hendrickson, Lambert and Fader all graduated May 13 from SJU.