WMU News

WMU students awarded record number of Fulbrights

June 6, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Three Western Michigan University students will be leaving the campus soon for Bolivia, Germany and Senegal, after winning prestigious Fulbright Fellowships for international study and research abroad.

The award winners are Miguel Centellas of Saginaw, Mich., and Yazmine Watts of Southfield, Mich., both doctoral candidates in political science; and Esther Shoenherr of Richland, Mich., a WMU graduate with a bachelor of arts in German and history.

"This is the largest group of Fulbright Fellows we've ever had," says Howard Dooley, executive director of international affairs and Fulbright program advisor. "It is indicative of the quality of students who are pursuing international graduate-level research at the University."

The fellowships are used to cover expenses incurred during the student's stay in the country they choose to visit. Research projects are self-designed and can include university courses, fieldwork, or independent research. Of the 5,300 applicants only 1,000 awards are given.

WMU's Fulbright Fellows for 2003-04 are planning the following research and study initiatives.

Miguel Centellas will head to Bolivia to study democratization in the South American country and contrast its relative stability during the past 20 years with its neighbors Ecuador and Peru. His fellowship will support field research on Bolivia's electoral system and party systems. The data he gathers will be used to complete his dissertation in WMU's political science program. The exact amount of his grant is still to be determined. Centellas is a Bolivian-American whose family immigrated to Saginaw. He earned his master's degree in political science from WMU in 1999.

Esther Shoenherr, a December 2002 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of WMU will travel to Germany to teach English to secondary-level students in eastern Germany. A recipient of the Padagogischer Austauschdienst Teaching Assistantship, she plans to eventually teach German culture and language at the college level. The exact amount of her grant is still to be determined.

Yazmine Watts will use her Fulbright Fellowship to study the influence of non-governmental organizations' policies towards reproductive health care in the West African nation of Senegal. A country that is largely Muslim and socially conservative, Senegal has a reproductive health care system that has received little attention. Watts will use her $27,200 grant to conduct field research with selected agencies around the city of Dakar, and her research will be used to write her dissertation. She is a 1998 graduate of Kalamazoo College and earned her master's degree in political science from the University of Windsor.

For 56 years the Fulbright program has been recognized as the flagship program in international educational exchange. The Fulbright Program for American students is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, with the assistance of the Institute of International Education.

Media contact: Matt Gerard, 269 387-8400, matthew.gerard@wmich.edu

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