2012 Fulbright Awardees

Joshua Damron

Joshua Damron, a chemistry major, has been awarded a U.S. Student Fulbright award in physical sciences for 2012-2013 to conduct research in Germany. Damron will conduct nuclear magnetic resonance experiments. His Fulbright research project will be housed at the Martin-Luther Universitat, Halle-Wittenberg under Professor Dr. Kay Saalwaechter, head of NMR in the Institute for Physics.

“I thank my current mentor, Dr. Jeff White, for introducing me to bench science by inviting me to work in his lab when I was a high school student. I want to influence other lives the way I have been influenced,” said Damron. As a product of his research efforts Damron has co-authored three peer reviewed publications.

Damron has previously traveled to Ireland, England, New Zealand and Turkey. As an invited guest to Turkey by the Gulen Movement, an interfaith and cultural dialogue graduate student group, Damron spent time with several Turkish families. During this time he became even more interested in exchanging ideas, language and perspectives with people outside of the United States.

Damron, a 2008 graduate from Stillwater high school, is the son of Drs. Steve and Rebecca Damron. He will graduate with a BS in chemistry and a minor in mathematics from OSU in May 2012. Upon returning from Germany, he plans to continue his education and aspires to teach and conduct research at a university as a physical chemist.

Alejandra Gonzalez Herrera

Alejandra Gonzalez Herrera awarded US Student Fulbright award to teach English

Alejandra Gonzalez Herrera, a dual degree graduate from Oklahoma State University, was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain for the 2012-2013 academic year to teach English to secondary school students.

Herrera believes the teaching assistantship in Spain will be a unique opportunity to teach younger students while being an ambassador for the United States. Afterwards, she would like to pursue a career with the U.S. Department of State. “My time in Spain will serve as valuable experience in learning more about the values and norms that guide Spanish culture. This knowledge will be useful as a Foreign Service Officer with a wide range of international experience,” said Herrera.

While in Spain, Herrera hopes to encourage students to expand their own horizons and worldviews by learning about the American culture and learning English. “I chose to apply for Spain, because I connect to the country’s history through my own Mexican heritage, I know what it is like to learn English as a second language, and I enjoy fostering inter-cultural exchange,” she added.

In addition to being born in Mexico and being raised in the U.S., Herrera has had the opportunity to live in Central Europe and North Africa. Her previous travels have taken her to Morocco, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Scotland, and Spain.

Herrera, a 2007 graduate from Liberty Academy in Shawnee, is the daughter of Greg and Olivia New. Alejandra earned a BA in sociology and BS in political science from OSU in December 2011.

Jessica Lay

Jessica Lay helps provide water to rural villages. She's pictured with a native Sierra Leonean who helps with well drilling. The well will provide drinking water and irrigation water for a nearby farm.

Jessica Lay awarded US Student Fulbright award to pursue research

Jesi Lay, a biosystems and agricultural engineering graduate student, was awarded a U.S. Student Fulbright award in engineering for 2012-2013 to Sierra Leone where she will conduct research on rainwater harvesting with researchers at Njala University. Less than half the population in Sierra Leone has access to improved drinking water. Rainwater harvesting has the potential to greatly improve access to drinkable water in rural villages.

Lay traveled to Sierra Leone, in Western Africa, earlier on two OSU service outreach courses where she worked with a local non-governmental organization, Willamette Medical Teams, to drill water wells. “I loved every minute of every sweat-filled, laborious day,” she recalled. Other trips to England, Ireland, Brazil and Mexico reinforced her eagerness for international experiences. While in Monterrey, Mexico, for five days she helped deliver water filter systems to several communities in the area with Clean Water Mission.

“This Fulbright award is a dream come true. There is no way I would have made it this far without the endless mentoring I have received from faculty, staff and students at OSU,” said Lay. “I am looking forward to mentoring students at Njala University and instilling in them the importance of research and the importance of sharing gained knowledge with not only the academic community, but with society as a whole.”

Lay, a graduate of Broken Arrow High School, is the daughter of Yong and Lowell Lay. She received a B.S. degree from OSU in biosystems and agricultural engineering with a soil science minor in 2010. Her career goal is to work as a lead engineer on international development projects involving water quality and water management research, specializing in rainwater harvesting technologies.

Click here to visit Jesi's blog.

Tyler Van Arsdale

Van Arsdale awarded US Student Fulbright award to teach English

Tyler Van Arsdale, an entrepreneurship major at Oklahoma State University, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in South Korea for 2012-2013. Van Arsdale chose South Korea because his experience with teaching yoga and East Asia gave him a strong curiosity about the country and desire to learn more about its culture.

“For me, the Fulbright is a chance to revisit and discover a culture different from my own,” said Van Arsdale. “I traveled to Seoul in 2010 for a few days and it had a big impact on me. I see the Fulbright as a gateway to a career in international relations and also an opportunity to learn a new language and thus increase my understanding of human communication. It's about connection.”

Van Arsdale is an award-winning photographer and he believes his profession will fit in well in Korea. For a community project, he hopes to teach students in Korea traditional Ashtanga yoga. Upon return to the United States, he plans to begin a master’s program in linguistics.

Van Arsdale, a 2007 graduate from Ponca City High School, is the son of Regeneia and Bryan Van Arsdale. He will receive a BSBA in May in entrepreneurship with minors in French, Japanese, entomology, and management information systems.

Click here to visit Tyler's blog.

Meredith Wyatt

OSU alumna Meredith Wyatt, an international business and Spanish graduate, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Bogota, Colombia in 2012 to 2013.

Wyatt traveled throughout South America while attending OSU, including Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Brazil and Chile, sparking her interest in experiencing Colombia firsthand. “Studying abroad opened my eyes and heart to that region of the world. My interest in Colombia has germinated from multiple seeds including school, literature, Latin dancing and Colombian friends,” said Wyatt, who currently works in the Tulsa County Library System.

While in Colombia, Wyatt will be working within an expansive library system in Bogota, which has been growing in recent years. She will assist or lead in programs such as an adult computer literacy class, family story time and a book discussion club for students learning English as a second language.

“I aspire to be an English teaching assistant because I strongly believe in empowering people through education,” said Wyatt. “My time spent as an educator in multiple settings at OSU has broadened my teaching capabilities and will enable me to be a successful ETA.”

Wyatt, a 2005 graduate from Corsicana High School in Texas, is the daughter of Kim and Judi Wyatt. She graduated from OSU in 2009 and would like to pursue a master’s degree in library and information science while working as a reference librarian at the Hispanic Resource Center in the Tulsa library system.

Latasha Wilson

Latasha Wilson awarded U.S. Student Fulbright award to teach English

Latasha Wilson, a political science and German major at Oklahoma State University, has been awarded a U.S. Student Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Turkey for 2012-2013. Her previous trips include South America, Europe, Asia and Africa and work as a Foreign Service intern for the U.S. Department of State in Vienna, Austria. Wilson recently conducted research and interviews for the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program at OSU. She hopes to develop a travel club and continue studies of oral history in her spare time in Turkey.

“This is a chance to fully immerse myself in the Turkish culture and foster understanding between two very different countries,” said Wilson. “Turkey is an important partner to the United States and I am excited to get to know the people and learn more about the country. This is a great honor for me, and I am grateful for the experiences I have had at OSU that have helped prepare me for this journey.”

“I have had incredible mentors and assistance in learning other languages and am eager to pass this on to students in Turkey, added Wilson. “I have been shown tremendous hospitality around the world and have learned through my experience the importance of giving back.”

Wilson is the daughter of Randy and Donna Wilson and a 2002 graduate of Stillwater High School. In addition to her BS from OSU in 2006, she received a MS in International Studies from OSU in 2009. She plans to pursue a career as a Foreign Service officer in the Public Diplomacy section, working in international relations through the U.S. Department of State. Coupled with her broad international experience, she intends to employ her communication skills to improve understanding between diverse countries and represent the U.S. in its interactions around the world.

Click here to visit Latasha's blog.

Erin Nordquist

Erin Nordquist with students during a trip to Mexico.

Erin Nordquist awarded teaching assistantship in France

The French Ministry of Education has awarded Erin Nordquist, a graduate from Oklahoma State University, a teaching assistant position in France for 2012 to 2013. She will assist with English classes at the secondary level in a village near Montpellier. After studying the French language, history and culture for the past three and a half years at OSU, Nordquist will have the opportunity to discover France first hand.

Nordquist was introduced to the French language when she studied abroad in Verviers, Belgium with Rotary International during the 2007-2008 school year. “While learning a language by immersion is one of the fastest ways, it is certainly not the easiest,” said Nordquist, who attended a Belgian high school and lived with three Belgian host families during her stay. “My experience in Belgium may have been slightly different had my language skills been stronger from the beginning. I want to emphasize to students the benefits of acquiring another language as well as encourage them to seek opportunities to study abroad.”

Upon returning to the United States, Nordquist will pursue a master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages.

Nordquist, a 2007 graduate of Stillwater High School, is the daughter of Mark and Tracy Nordquist. She graduated from OSU in December 2011 with a degree in French and a minor in English.

Caitlin Cleary

Caitlin Cleary is pictured with a child from the family she stayed with during a visit to Honduras. She is holding a chick from the family’s chicken coop.

Caitlin Cleary receives Fulbright award to teach English

Caitlin Cleary, a 2011 graduate of the International Studies MS program at Oklahoma State University, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Turkey for 2012-2013. Caitlin has traveled extensively in Latin America, including three visits to Honduras. During a three-month stay in Honduras, she helped start nearly a dozen gardens in several local schools. Caitlin chose Turkey after completing a course on gender in the Middle East and being exposed to the historical and cultural richness Turkey has to offer.

Cleary is fluent in Spanish, and is currently learning Arabic and Turkish. “This Fulbright is such an amazing opportunity,” said Cleary, “I cannot wait to immerse myself in Turkish culture and engage students to explore the English language. I would like to thank my mentor, Dr. Thomas Kuzmic, who led me on two trips to Honduras and encouraged me to always travel off the beaten path with an open mind. His guidance has truly fostered my love of travel and I am forever grateful!”

Cleary, a Tulsa native and 2004 graduate of Bishop Kelley High School, is the daughter of Paul and Julie Cleary. She received a BA in 2008 from the University of Tulsa in film production and anthropology. She has been teaching English as a second language at OSU’s English Language Institute and the Family Resource Center for the past year while moonlighting as a drum instructor at Billy’s Drum Shop. Upon the completion of her award, Caitlin plans to pursue a career in international disaster management.