Five members of the 2020 Allegheny College graduating class have decided to launch their post-collegiate careers as Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience (PULSE) fellows, spending a year in community service together.
The five include Melissa Burnett from Pittsburgh; Elyse Cinquino from Buffalo, New York; Maura McCampbell from Houston, Texas; Sarah Shapley from Rochester, New York; and Shiloh Taul from Santa Cruz, California.
PULSE cultivates a community of young community service leaders with the goal of transforming Pittsburgh. The agency recruits college graduates who live together and partner with Pittsburgh nonprofits for a year of service and leadership. PULSE has currently accepted 26 fellows for 2020–21 and will be accepting applications until June 1 to fill the remaining slots.
“I decided to choose PULSE because I wanted to be in an intentional community,” says Burnett. “I liked the idea of being in a close community where everyone is going through the same changes in life. Pittsburgh is where I grew up, and I will be able to continue to explore it. In addition, I loved the idea of working for the community for the year. I worked as a Davies Leader at Allegheny, which is a very similar program to PULSE. I hope to have a similar work environment like this, where I can live and work with a great community of volunteers.”
Burnett earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental science and minored in physics and astronomy. During her time at Allegheny, she completed and presented research at the Biosphere 2 Rainforest in Arizona. She received honorable mention at the Student Art Showcase for her photography. She was also one of the founding members of the Green Students of Color Society at Allegheny.
Cinquino majored in international studies and Spanish and minored in political science. She was a member of Alpha Delta Pi as recruitment and marketing vice president. Cinquino served as vice president of Allegheny Student Government, and she also worked as a student intern with Creating Landscapes, where she assisted students in theater classes. Before her senior year, she spent a month in China teaching English and American culture classes at a summer camp.
McCampbell majored in environmental studies with a minor in philosophy and concentration in food studies. She was a resident advisor, president of Sustained Dialogue and a member of Students for Environmental Action. She was also an active member of Crawford County’s Green New Deal Coalition, where she worked to advance environmental agendas on a local level.
Shapley majored in international studies and women, gender and sexuality studies. She was a Davies Leader, working with local nonprofits in the Meadville area, and interned with a start-up organization known as Advancing Refugee Students Educational Outreach in Rochester.
Shiloh Taul earned her undergraduate degree with a major in biology and a minor in psychology. She also obtained emergency medical technician certificates, volunteered at the Meadville Medical Center and a homeless shelter, and served in a leadership position with Habitat for Humanity.
“Specifically with Allegheny, I think that we have put a lot of effort into getting onto campus and interacting with students directly,” says Neal Donovan, recruiting and program coordinator at PULSE. “Additionally, our Allegheny alumni have been very active in this outreach.”
For example, Holly Mangan, a 2019 Allegheny graduate serving with East Liberty Development Inc., visited campus in fall 2019 during Allegheny’s Pathways to Service event. Additionally, Mangan and Erin Zehr, a 2019 graduate serving with Global Links, also visited in the spring of 2020 to host an information session as well as make some class visits.
“I feel that this intentional effort to interact with Allegheny students and Bonner scholars has caused this increase, and we are very excited about it,” says Donovan.
For Lucinda Morgan and Lenee McCandless, the night of March 11 is etched in their memories. Shortly after 9 p.m. on that Wednesday, President Trump announced a travel ban for many European countries because of the COVID-19 outbreak. They realized that the announcement would have major implications on Allegheny College students who were studying overseas — and those in the United States as well.
Morgan, director of the International Education Office in the Allegheny Gateway, and McCandless, the office’s assistant director, both drove to campus that night to discuss communication plans with students who were overseas. Once there, Morgan noticed an email arrive in her inbox from the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. She read it aloud to McCandless, and she was “shocked” at the announcement that all countries around the world had just been increased to a Global Level 3 Health Advisory.
“Neither of us had ever heard of the State Department elevating all countries at the same time before,” Morgan recalls. “It was issued with a strong recommendation to ‘reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19. Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.’ We left our office around midnight to drive to our homes, and walking out to our vehicles, we both acknowledged these announcements meant the next days at work would be very busy.”
When all was said and done, Allegheny administrators and staff, and in particular Morgan and McCandless, directly assisted each study-away student in a myriad of ways, even those studying in Allegheny’s domestic study-away programs in New York City and Philadelphia. Allegheny had a total of 29 students studying away in the spring 2020 semester. Over the coming weeks, students returned internationally from programs in Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Senegal, Taiwan, Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico and Ecuador.
“We had been following the outbreak of COVID-19 since January, as our students who were to study in China in the spring semester had their programs canceled, and consequently, were quickly ushered to Taiwan in order to continue their language programs in a Mandarin-speaking location,” says Morgan. “We had also done outreach with our international students from Asia in January and February, as we knew they were concerned about their family and friends back home and had started working with the Career Education Office in the Gateway and Alumni Affairs to develop additional internship opportunities for students in case they would be unable to return home in the summer.”
Trevor Mahan, a junior from Wichita, Kansas, was studying in Senegal under the University of Minnesota’s Studies in International Development (MSID) Program, arriving there at the end of December 2019. “I was supposed to stay in Dakar until May 2020, but that got cut short and I ended up leaving on March 17,” Mahan says. “I had just started my spring break when I received an email from my program that I would have to return home by the end of the week. Within minutes after getting the email, Lucinda Morgan was calling me. She had booked me a flight within 20 minutes. I didn’t have to pay for anything which was a big relief because I had enough worries on my plate as it was.
“I had a lot of mixed emotions, and I had a lot to do in the next 48 hours after that. I had a day and a half to pack my things and say my goodbyes to my friends, professors and host family. It felt like a movie; none of it felt real. A few students in my program had already been preemptively pulled by their home universities before MSID was canceled, so I knew there was a real possibility I would have to go home early, but at the time I didn’t think it would happen so fast. I’m glad that I am back home and safe, but I miss my home in Senegal, too. I greatly improved my French, I learned a lot about myself and the world, and I made life-long friendships there. I’ll find a way to return there someday, that’s for sure.”
Christina Winbigler, a junior from Austin, Texas, returned to the country after spending two months in Lancaster, England, but couldn’t stay with relatives. “I had some difficulty finding a place to stay in the U.S. My path wasn’t so simple as my mother is immunocompromised and my other familial households have either elderly or infant members,” Winbigler says. “I wasn’t comfortable with asking just any friend to put me up, but my dearest friend from Allegheny and her family offered to put me up in Montana for as long as I needed. When I told Lucinda about my predicament, she didn’t hesitate and found an appropriate flight in 10 minutes. She made sure all parties were happy with the decision and consoled me on the ending of my time abroad.”
Redefining Crisis Management for Study Away
“Crisis management is a major component of training for those in the field of international education. However, we were never trained for, nor ever considered a need for, the evacuation of students from study away programs worldwide all at the same time,” says Morgan.
With health and travel alerts raised to their highest levels and borders closing across the world, getting Allegheny students home was a challenge, to say the least. “This made getting flights for students increasingly difficult as days passed and often resulted in using multiple websites, phone numbers and airlines to book students at all hours of the day and night. In many situations our office had to coordinate with multiple students at once across various time zones to ensure their safe return,” recalls McCandless.
March 13–26 was a very busy two weeks for Morgan and McCandless. Here is some of what they did to get students home:
Called and emailed students to ask what they knew about COVID-19 and what was going on in their locations and with their specific programs while also communicating the seriousness of the potential implications if they did not consider their evacuation options. With student consent, called parents to discuss the situation and address concerns from parents.
Emailed and called program providers/host institutions about program status and updates on cancellation plans.
Assisted students with changing their return flights home (scheduled for the end of their program in May or June) or purchased new flights home for them. The wait time to call airlines ranged from six to 24 hours, and airline websites crashed often due to overuse, so purchasing flights directly for some students was more effective and reliable than hoping they would get through to be able to change their return flight plans.
Even after purchasing their flights home, many of the flights were canceled prior to departure due to the massive cuts airlines made to international flights. Students would text/call/email when they received flight cancellation notices, and Morgan and McCandless worked with them and the airlines to get rebooked on new flights. They also ran into problems of students being routed through Amsterdam, which would have required more extensive medical checks and the possibility of 14-day quarantine, so they had to quickly reroute students through London and Paris.
As students were flying back, they were asked to stay in contact with Morgan, and text when they arrived at each layover, in order to ensure smooth transport home.
A Global Retreat
“There was a lot of stress, concern and care for our students, but our knowledge of the field and best practices helped us to power through,” says McCandless. “We knew it was a priority to do everything we could to ensure students’ safety while also considering the enormous impact leaving their programs had on their personal and academic goals.”
Students had to get home from all corners of the globe. For example:
Jonathan Bumanis, a junior from Buffalo, New York, and Markeyda Jones, a junior from Philadelphia, came back from Taiwan. Their programs began later in the semester, after the Lunar New Year. Unable to go to China to start their programs due to the COVID-19 outbreak there, the program provider helped to facilitate the same program for them in Taiwan, “This was obviously a challenge and adjustment for the students that unfolded very quickly. Unfortunately, they were faced with further setbacks when the situation worsened in their new location, resulting in the need to evacuate back to the U.S. and continue their coursework online,” says McCandless.
“As someone who loves Chinese culture, I was excited to study abroad in Nanjing, China,” Jones says. “As I was preparing to finally receive my visa on Jan. 26, I was informed that due to the COVID-19 virus, I could not study in China, and my trip was suspended. After two weeks of frustration, optimism and hard work by the Council on International Educational Exchange and the International Education Office, I was able to study abroad in Tainan, Taiwan. From February 23 to March 18 was possibly the best experience I have ever had. However, my time was short again due to the global panic. I sadly returned home. I am truly grateful and happy that I was able to experience just a small taste of a wonderful country and culture. Yet, as I sit at home now, I can only imagine how much I could have learned and how much I could have experienced.”
Kyra Nielsen, a junior from Pulaski, New York, and Flannery Pillion-Gardner, a junior from Pittsburgh, returned from Cologne, Germany. These two students had just gotten to their programs shortly before the outbreak began to take hold in Europe, Morgan says. They were in their language pre-sessions and had just started getting settled into their apartments and new communities. “With the presidential administration’s order to close the U.S. border to foreign nationals entering from Europe, it became apparent our students needed to return to the U.S. This had to happen rather quickly to avoid the influx of travelers from Europe to the U.S. to ensure their safety, allowing little time for students to depart Germany,” McCandless says.
Joseph Silvester, a junior from Wexford, Pennsylvania, and Jasmine Ramirez-Soto, a junior from Santa Ana, California, had to get back from Ecuador. They were a few hours outside of the capital city of Quito, traveling with friends, when Morgan called them. “They knew that a lot of their program activities had recently been canceled due to COVID-19, but did not know how quickly the situation had escalated internationally, as Ecuador was suspending international flights within 36 hours,” Morgan says. Their study away program announced it canceled the in-country program, and that all participants should return to their home countries immediately, and proceed with completing the coursework online. They quickly arranged to get back to the families they were staying with in Quito, pack their belongings and head to the airport to fly home.
Recalls Silvester: “I was in a jungle region in Ecuador called Mindo doing some hiking and rafting when the U.S. State Department ordered that we all return home within 48 hours. So I immediately had to book a flight home, the flights went quickly so the only one I could find was through Panama-Newark-Chicago-Pittsburgh. I then traveled chaotically for about 25 hours straight safely back to Pittsburgh. It was obviously a big shock, and it took me a while to deal with the time that I missed out on studying abroad with my Ecuadorian family, but I am extremely grateful for the time that I had, and for the Allegheny study abroad team and my family that ensured I made it home safely.”
Says Morgan: “These students had to deal with the shock of quick or no goodbyes, the guilt of not finishing their coursework overseas, anxiety of not knowing initially how they will finish coursework, quickly leaving people they have been romantically or socially involved with, disappointment they didn’t get to travel more, and worry about financial costs of leaving unexpectedly in mid-semester. In addition, they returned to this surrealness at home of restaurants and movie theaters closed, and unable to have large gatherings; they can’t just come to Allegheny now to spend the weekend with their friends. It is a very different America from the one they had left just weeks before.”
Allegheny College senior Elyse Cinquino participated in the National Education for Women’s (NEW) Leadership Pennsylvania program, a weeklong “leadership and public policy institute designed to educate and empower young women for future political participation and leadership,” in summer 2019. Throughout the week, participants in this non-partisan program discuss the role of women in politics and policymaking in Pennsylvania with the goal of addressing the underrepresentation of women in politics.
The NEW Leadership Pennsylvania institute is hosted by the Pennsylvania Center for Women & Politics at Chatham University. Allegheny graduate Dana Brown, Ph.D., serves as the center’s executive director and an assistant professor of political science at Chatham.
Cinquino is double majoring in international studies and Spanish with a political science minor. She shares reflections on her NEW Leadership Pennsylvania experience here:
“My experience at the NEW Leadership Program was a memorable one. I was able to interact and get to know many other collegiate Pennsylvania women who were interested in the prospect of being involved in politics. When I originally applied for the program, I was unsure if it would be something I would enjoy or would be applicable to my future career interests. However, I would recommend this program to any woman remotely interested in getting involved in politics or becoming more civically involved. Although I did not see myself running for a major elected office in the future, after completing this program I surely want to become more civically involved in local politics today and in the future. This program emphasizes the importance of women becoming in politics not only in higher-up positions, but also locally. It taught me that getting involved in politics does not mean you have to be a U.S president or even a senator.
“One memorable quote I remember from the NEW Leadership Program was a modification to the quote by Shirley Chisholm — “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” At NEW Leadership, we came up with a new quote, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring your own table.” This quote and ideal resonated with me and many of the other women at the conference. In politics, women and especially women of color are underrepresented. As a result, an important demographic, as well as different life experiences and skillsets are left under utilized and not included in important conversations and decisions that affect women and our nation as a whole. I learned that sometimes, when there’s no seat at the table for you or no designated place for you to be included in a conversation, you have to make room for yourself because your ideas and opinions matter.
“During the NEW Leadership Program, we visited Harrisburg, and it was very cool to see where and how state-level politics take place. The panels and general conduct and setup of NEW Leadership was diverse and non-partisan with different women, representatives and political leaders from different parties and backgrounds. This was great so many of the collegiate women had people they could relate to and receive advice from. Overall, the NEW Leadership Program would be something I would recommend and am proud to call myself an alumna of!”“I am currently involved in Allegheny Student Government as vice president, and I believe the skills I was able to develop at NEW Leadership will assist me in this position as well as my other position on an executive board in my sorority. This program was also advantageous for networking as we had networking opportunities, and I even was able to meet Justice Cynthia A. Baldwin, who did a Fulbright in Zimbabwe that relates to what I’m interested in doing after graduation. This networking practice was very helpful, and we also had a networking and public speaking training to prepare us for our networking sessions.
Two Allegheny College students have been awarded Gilman International Scholarships in order to help defray the costs of their participation in studying overseas during the 2019 fall semester.
The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program reviewed more than 3,000 applicants nationwide for 2019-20 academic programs, and just over 800 students were offered awards to participate in credit-bearing study abroad programs and career-oriented internships in countries around the world, according to the organization.
Yadira Sanchez-Esparza, an Allegheny sophomore from Salem, Oregon, says she will use her $5,000 grant to help pay the cost of the program in Argentina. “I will be studying abroad with the Council on International Educational Exchange Liberal Arts Program, which allows me to study at three different universities in Buenos Aires, depending on my interests,” she says.
Sanchez-Esparza is an international studies and Spanish double major with a concentration in Latin America and the Caribbean. “I hope to focus specifically on gender in sexuality in Latin America, which has encouraged me to do an internship while abroad with a nonprofit that advocates for victims of femicide and domestic abuse,” she says. “After spending a year in Buenos Aires, I hope to have not only mastered writing in Spanish but gained a more intimate understanding of the geopolitical pressures that influence gender and sexuality within Argentina.”
Sydney Francis, an Allegheny junior from Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, has received $2,500 for her study away program this fall in Jordan. She is a double major in international studies and community and justice studies.
“Our recent run of success with both the Gilman and Fulbright awards shows that Allegheny students are ready to compete at the national level,” says Patrick Jackson, director of fellowship advising in the Allegheny Gateway. “The projects that Sydney and Yadira proposed to do while overseas were compelling enough to an audience of interested strangers that they’ve been awarded several thousand dollars to carry them out. That’s a big deal. I would encourage any Allegheny student interested in accessing the various government programs that support study abroad — Gilman, Boren, Fulbright — to go ahead and apply.”
The Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, thereby gaining skills critical to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness. The program aims to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries and world regions. The program also encourages students to study languages, especially critical need languages (those deemed important to national security).
Allegheny College graduate Emily Smith will travel to Brazil in February 2020 after receiving a Fulbright award to serve as an English teaching assistant at a Brazilian university.
“I will be teaching English classes in various subjects, and I will be spending another 20 hours per week developing and implementing a project of my choice either at my university or in my local community,” says Smith, who is from Williamsville, New York. “I should receive the information about the city where I will be living and working by the end of the summer.”
Smith is one of about 2,100 U.S. citizens who will study, conduct research, and teach abroad for the 2019–2020 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as their record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.
Smith says she was motivated to apply for the Fulbright to further her Portuguese language study and “begin to learn about an incredibly diverse country that is such an important player in Latin America and the world.”
Smith is a Spanish and international studies double major and has already done extensive traveling as part of her Allegheny learning experience. “Thanks to Allegheny, I was able to have some really incredible international experiences that I don’t think would have been possible if I went to another university,” she says.
“Emily’s focus on Latin America in her international studies major and a semester abroad in Chile have positioned her well for her Fulbright year in Brazil,” says Laura Reeck, professor of French and International Studies Program chair at Allegheny. “Her senior project looks at Colombian and Peruvian migration to Chile over the last 30 years and contributes importantly to an evolving field of research. She is poised to benefit enormously from a Fulbright year in the largest and most populous Latin American country, and one that is not Spanish-speaking. So as Emily teaches English in Brazil, she will also be continuing to learn Brazilian Portuguese and deepening her understanding of Brazilian society and cultures.”
As part of the Global Citizens Scholars Program, Smith received funding to do an independent study abroad program in the fall of 2017 in Valparaíso, Chile, during her junior year. She also had the opportunity to attend a conference in June 2018 in Pune, India, with Professor Reeck. In January 2019, she joined the Global Citizens Scholars Program for a week-long trip to the U.S.-Mexican border to learn about some of the pressing issues regarding border security and spent a day in Nogales, Mexico.
“As a graduating senior, the International Studies Program continues to support me — I received a grant from the department which will allow me to take Portuguese classes in preparation for my time in Brazil. I truly believe that Allegheny is unique in that it supports students in all of their interests and provides them with unique opportunities in their field of study,” says Smith.
Smith says her dual major worked out perfectly for her. “While I was able to follow my interest in Latin America through my Spanish courses, the courses that fulfilled my requirements for international studies allowed me to learn about regions that I was unfamiliar with, and broaden my understanding of global issues,” she says.
Besides her studies, Smith was the president of the Phi Sigma Iota Foreign Language Honor Society, participated in the Global Citizens Scholars Program and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mentoring Program, and was a Quigley Hall office assistant.
Between her graduation on May 11 and her Fulbright trip to Brazil, where she will spend nine months, Smith plans to return to her suburban Buffalo home and work. “I see living abroad for an extended period of time to be an important step toward reaching my career goal, which is to work in international development,” she says. “So more than anything I am looking forward to this opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture.”
Smith joins international studies majors Sarah Shapley ’20 and Kelly Frantz ’16, who earlier had received Fulbright awards.
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.
Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Fulbrighters address critical global challenges in all disciplines while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 84 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.
Dale Giovengo’s career as a foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State has spanned posts in France, Albania, Kuwait, Pakistan, Switzerland, Iraq and, now, Allegheny College.
Giovengo is serving as a Visiting Diplomat in the Allegheny Gateway during the 2018–19 academic year. Visiting Diplomats are career foreign service officers and specialists located throughout the U.S. who provide guidance and advice on careers, internships and fellowships to students and professionals in the communities they serve.
“It is rare for a liberal arts college to host a Visiting Diplomat,” says Laura Reeck, professor of French and chair of the International Studies Program at Allegheny. “Typically, they are posted to large research universities in more central locations.”
Giovengo lives in Western Pennsylvania and visited Allegheny last year to give a talk and meet with students interested in taking the Foreign Service Officer Training test. It wasn’t his first experience with the College, though: his oldest daughter, Leah, graduated from Allegheny in 2000.
During the fall semester at Allegheny, Giovengo has worked with students in the Law and Policy Program, participated in a Gator Day panel on diplomacy and development, and held office hours to answer questions and share information about opportunities with the State Department.
“It’s fun to educate students about what is possible,” Giovengo says. “The foreign service combines dedication to our country with very fascinating experiences.”
Giovengo has presented in classes at Allegheny and, in the spring semester, he will teach a course, “The Practice of Diplomacy” (POLSC 291). The two-credit course, which focuses on diplomacy as a means of solving major disputes in today’s world, will be offered in Modules A and B (January 14 to March 4, 2019).
As part of his work, Giovengo also visits other schools in Western Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Before joining the Diplomat in Residence team in 2017, he managed the Medical Services Support Iraq Program.
Giovengo’s experience in embassy operations includes roles as a human resources officer, financial management officer, management officer and contract officer representative. He has held a number of hardship posts, including in Iraq and Pakistan.
During his time in Lahore, Pakistan, Giovengo was one of only 20 Americans in a city of 10 million. “It’s an opportunity where you immerse yourself in a culture and interact with local people,” Giovengo says of the foreign service. “I tell students that, if they don’t like to travel, it’s not the job for them.”
Giovengo entered the foreign service after a 36-year career in the retail industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh and master’s degree in leadership and ethics from Duquesne University.
Giovengo says he appreciates Allegheny’s focus providing a rigorous academic experience and a supportive environment for students.
“I like speaking with students and hearing about their interests and goals,” he says. “I think their energy is catchy, and I enjoy that.”
Giovengo will host an information session for Allegheny students about internships, fellowships and careers with the Department of State on Monday, Dec. 3, from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in Room 245 of Pelletier Library. A bagged lunch will be provided.
Mark your calendars for 7 p.m. on Monday, October 22, in Henderson Auditorium of Quigley Hall to hear Ellen Yount, Allegheny alumna and Senior Vice President of Management Systems International, share her passion for international development and the challenges that she faced as she lived and worked overseas.
Ellen will coach students on how to prepare for life after Allegheny, how to achieve work/life balance (even as a 20-something), and how to demonstrate that you have the skills employers are seeking.
Co-sponsored by The Gateway and International Studies
Allegheny College student Sarah Shapley will participate in a Fulbright Summer Institute to study in Wales in the United Kingdom through one of the most prestigious and selective summer scholarship programs operating worldwide.
Shapley, a rising junior, is from Fairport in suburban Rochester, New York. She is a major in international studies with a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.
Beginning in mid-June, Shapley will participate in a three-week summer program to study identity and nationhood in Wales at Aberystwyth University. The students she will be among will be able to discover the National Library of Wales, one of the U.K.’s five copyright libraries; learn some of the Welsh language; participate in roundtable discussions with key figures in Welsh politics; and explore the countryside of mid-Wales, including a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage site.
“Upon learning I received the placement, I was incredibly excited and thankful to have received an opportunity that would enrich both my academic and personal experience,” Shapley said. “As a Fulbright summer program participant, I hope to learn more about the Welsh language and culture, as well as delve into and engage in a topic of study that interests me.
“I am also excited to meet new people and be immersed in a new culture,” she said. “I hope this work will enable me to have a deeper understanding of the concept of identity and nationhood, so that in the future I can apply this new understanding to whatever work I end up doing.”
The U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission is a bilateral, transatlantic scholarship program, offering awards and summer programs for study or research in any field at any accredited university in the United States or United Kingdom.
The commission selects participants through a rigorous application and interview process. In making these awards, the commission looks not only for academic excellence but a focused application, a range of extracurricular and community activities, demonstrated ambassadorial skills, a desire to further the Fulbright Program, and a plan to give back to the recipient’s home country upon returning.
“I think the fact that Sarah is the third student in a row that we have sent to participate in this program says something about the kinds of things our students are doing at Allegheny,” said Patrick Jackson, director of fellowship advising at the College.
“In a supremely competitive field, they stand out,” Jackson said. “The Fulbright Summer Institute in the U.K. is one of the most competitive fellowships that first- and second-year students can pursue and our continued winning of them is a testament to our young students’ potential. I think Sarah is going to come back from her summer in the U.K. with some new and interesting perspectives to share. If the experiences of our previous winners is any indication, she’ll also come back with a much better idea of how she wants to proceed with her education here.”
Each year, the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission supports around 60 U.K. and U.S. undergraduate students to undertake a demanding academic and cultural summer program at leading institutions in the U.S. and U.K. Fulbright Summer Institutes cover all participant costs. In addition, Fulbright summer participants receive a distinctive support and cultural education program including visa processing, a comprehensive pre-departure orientation, enrichment opportunities in country, a re-entry session and the opportunity to join alumni networks.
The U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission is part of the Fulbright program conceived by Senator J. William Fulbright in the aftermath of World War II to promote leadership, learning and empathy between nations through educational exchange. Award recipients and summer program participants will be the future leaders for tomorrow and support the “special relationship” between the U.S. and U.K.
Kyle Kanell has never left North America, but this summer his studies will take him across the Atlantic Ocean to Meknes, Morocco, where he has been awarded the ProjectGO scholarship for an intensive study of Arabic.
Originally from Beaver, Pennsylvania, Kanell transferred to Allegheny College in the fall of 2017 from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
From his first day on Allegheny’s campus, he began an intensive study of the Arabic language, completing four Arabic courses over two semesters.
Assistant Professor of Arabic Reem Hilal has been Kanell’s instructor this year and has seen his skill grow with each course.
“Kyle is a good fit for the scholarship because he has demonstrated interest in learning about the cultures of the Middle East, and the fact that he has taken all the available Arabic-designated courses this year, outside of intermediate-level Arabic, tells me that he is committed to learning about all different aspects of the Middle East,” Hilal says. “Being abroad in Morocco will provide him with more exposure to the region, through interactions with native speakers of Arabic and exposure to one of many Arab cultures. It will enrich his understanding of the region and its people.”
Kanell, a rising junior, is majoring in international studies with a focus in the Middle East/North Africa, and minoring in economics. He is also an Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadet. ProjectGO scholarships are administered by the U.S. Department of Defense.
“I knew from a young age that the military was the right path for me,” he says. “I also knew from holding leadership positions on varsity sports teams and high school clubs that I had great potential in terms of leadership. Contracting as an officer cadet in ROTC was the perfect fit to fulfill both those aspirations.”
Professor of French and International Studies Program Chair Laura Reeck is particularly excited about this opportunity for Kanell, as she was one of the first people to help him with his transfer to Allegheny and to advise him on studying overseas.
“Not long into the fall semester, he asked me when his first opportunity to study abroad would be,” says Reeck. “It was obvious that he was ready and waiting. I told him that he would probably need to wait a year. I don’t think he much liked what I was telling him. Not long after that, knowing that he is an Army ROTC Cadet, I came across the ProjectGO scholarship and suggested to him that he look into it. This scholarship will provide him with intensive Arabic-language instruction in Morocco, which will allow him to continue his Middle East/North African coursework and to get to know Moroccan society and culture.”
Reeck noted how intensive, immersive studies of language is one of the best ways to improve language proficiency and fluency. “Especially for a language that requires significant dedication to learning like Arabic,” Reeck says, “learning a language in context is incredibly motivating. Meknes is a beautiful city with a rich cultural history and heritage. I’m certain Kyle will appreciate that aspect of it, and I know he’s looking forward to learning more about Morocco generally.”
Kanell’s experience with Arabic at Allegheny and in Morocco will take him further on his path toward government work. “Immediately following graduation, I will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army,” says Kanell.
“By studying in Morocco on scholarship, my understanding of the culture, livelihood, and particularly my abilities in Arabic will become greatly enhanced,” he adds. “I am looking into becoming an active duty officer in a combat arms branch. After that, I hope to work for the government in either a diplomacy or intelligence position.”