By CHARLES ANZALONE
Published May 3, 2023
Six UB students and alumni have won Fulbright awards, the prestigious national scholarship competition for grants to study, research and teach abroad.
“For more than 75 years, the Fulbright program has forged intellectual and cultural bonds around the world,” says Patrick McDevitt, Fulbright program adviser, associate professor of history and a 1993 Fulbright grantee to New Zealand.
“UB’s success in the Fulbright is both a testament to our growing international orientation as a university and an integral part of our development into a Top 25 public university.
“Whether it is studying how to better predict volcanic eruptions in Italy, researching better methods for evaluating the effects of climate change on the Greenland ice sheet with world experts in Austria, or teaching English in Andorra, Slovakia, Spain or Taiwan, UB’s Fulbrighters are actively working to create a better and more integrated world,” McDevitt says. “We couldn’t be prouder of them.”
McDevitt says UB submitted 21 applications, 11 of which were recommended to the national committees. He also recognized the pivotal support and contributions from UB’s Office of Fellowships and Scholarships, particularly Director Megan Stewart.
The Fulbright recipients:
Emma Correia of Newark, N.Y. A graduating senior, Correia received an English Teaching Assistant Award to Andorra. Correia will graduate with a double major in Spanish and linguistics, and a minor in education. A member of the Honors College, Correia was a TA for the HON102 colloquium. Her long-term plans include pursuing graduate work in linguistics and higher education, with a particular focus on bilingualism.
Jane Halfhill of San Antonio, Texas. A master’s student in geology, Halfhill received a research grant to Italy, where she will create a set of numerical models of phreatic eruptions at the primary vent of Vulcano in the Aeolian Islands. Her work will be housed at the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia in Pisa, Italy, where she will work with fellow researchers specializing in computational models to better understand when eruptions occur. Halfhill earned a BS from Arizona State, and would like to pursue a PhD in geology and someday work for the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
Caleb Walcott of Portland, Ore. A doctoral student in the Department of Geology, Walcott received a research grant for study in Austria. He will work with Michael Meyer and his team at the University of Innsbruck to conduct cutting-edge research of the Greenland Ice Sheet using a novel geologic technique known as luminescence rock surface exposure dating. Walcott earned bachelor’s degrees in German and geology from Middlebury College. His work in Austria will form the basis of his dissertation, under adviser Jason Briner, professor of geology.
Grace Van Vessem of Buffalo. A graduating senior, Honors College member and Presidential Scholar, Van Vessem received an English Teaching Assistant Award to the Slovak Republic. Van Vessem majored in public health and minored in environmental studies, and has wide experience working with non-native English speakers. Her motivation for pursuing an ETA in Slovakia is as much personal as academic: Her mother’s family roots are in Slovakia. Van Vessem’s future goals include going to law school to prepare for a career in public health and environmental policy.
Oress (Fiona) Pratt-MacDonald of East Amherst. A 2022 sociology graduate of UB, Pratt-MacDonald received an English Teaching Assistant Award to Taiwan. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and an alumna of the Honors College’s Advanced Honors Program. Pratt-MacDonald is currently an AmeriCorps volunteer in Buffalo. Upon completion of her Fulbright year, Pratt-MacDonald hopes to earn a PhD in sociology and pursue a career in academia.
Alivia Smeltzer-Darling of Buffalo. A 2021 graduate of UB, Smeltzer-Darling received an English Teaching Assistant Award to Spain. She double-majored in Spanish and health and human services at UB, with minors in education and psychology. A member of the Honors College, Smeltzer-Darling served as a teaching assistant for the Honors Colloquium. She is currently a senior program specialist at Erie Niagara Area Health Education and is pursuing an advanced certificate in public health at UB. After completing her Fulbright grant, Smeltzer-Darling hopes to pursue a master’s degree in elementary education and earn certification to teach in New York State. Her ultimate career goal is to become a leader in the field of educational nonprofits.
UB’s three alternates
Three UB students were selected as alternates. They are Russel Bassarath, a history and social studies education major who is an alternate for an English Teaching Assistant Award to Cyprus; Leah Cabarga, a UB Teach English/English education major and alternate for an English Teaching Assistant Award to Montenegro; and Kaitlyn Flynn, a global affairs major with a Korean language minor, who is an alternate for an English Teaching Assistant Award to South Korea.