By Patrick J. Callahan
Two students have been awarded Fulbright grants to study abroad in the coming academic year. Caitlin Boon, a graduate student in the Food Science Department, and Kasim Te, a senior graduating summa cum laude with departmental honors in Chinese language and literature, will begin their studies overseas this fall.
Fulbright Full Grants provide money to students studying overseas for transportation, the cost of research, living expenses, insurance, and in some cases, tuition. Boon will receive a full grant to study food policy at City University, London. Te will receive a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship to teach English in Korea. The award covers round-trip international travel, health and accident insurance, and orientation costs; it also provides a monthly stipend to cover the living expenses.
Boon’s research has led her to determine that dealing with the issues facing food producers and regulators requires an understanding of both the science and the policies that affect modern food production. She says, “City University, London’s MSc program in food policy is among the few graduate programs in the world to offer interdisciplinary courses that focus specifically on the food industry.” This will help her achieve her goal “to research the nature and causes of differences between the United States and Europe in food regulations and the institutions that enforce them.”
Similarly, Te says he believes immersion in Korean culture and language will give him a better understanding of the current politics of the Korean peninsula. “Through increased understanding, I hope eventually to contribute to efforts aimed at peaceful relations with North Korea,” he says. Further, Te hopes to learn the Korean language while spending the year abroad.
While the application process for Fulbright grants is rigorous, the campus’s Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA) helps to guide students through each stage. Susan Whitbourne, ONSA director and professor of Psychology, says she was immediately impressed with both applicants: “A big part of finding success with the Fulbright is making a good match between the student and the program,” Whitbourne says. “Both Caitlin and Kasim were very well suited to the programs they’ll be attending.”
Whitbourne says that these students will serve as representatives of the University during their time abroad, and that their accomplishments highlight the excellence of UMass students. She also credits the work of UMass faculty as contributing to the students’ success: “We rely heavily on faculty advisors to identify and support our applicants. They’ve done an excellent job.”