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Seven WVU students earn Fulbright Scholarships

This composite image shows the seven 2023 recipients of Fulbright Scholarships. The photos are arranged in a grid with three at the top and four at the bottom.

Seven WVU students and recent graduates are recipients of Fulbright Scholarships, part of the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program offering fellowships to those interested in building international relationships. (WVU Graphic)

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Seven West Virginia University students and alumni are recipients of prestigious Fulbright Scholarships to teach English or conduct research abroad over the next year.

The Fulbright Student Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program, offering fellowships to students and recent graduates interested in building international relationships.

Katherine Adase of Wheeling is pursuing a master’s degree in wildlife and fisheries resources management. As a recipient of the Fulbright Science Initiative award, she will conduct research in Chile to investigate how invasive salmonids impact the current resilience of freshwater and estuarine ecosystems in Chilean Patagonia. Adase also plans to use climate scenarios as well as habitat occupancy and movement of the species to predict how these invasions may progress.

“I have been working for most of my career with the goal of doing scientific research and conservation in Patagonia,” she said. “Fulbright seemed like a great opportunity for me to become quickly involved with researchers in the region with a large amount of flexibility on the project. Many grants require strict objectives and extensive proposals to obtain funding, but with Fulbright, I have been able to collaborate with local researchers to create a project that may have been more difficult to design under other governmental grants.”

Abigail Dorsa, a Cincinnati, Ohio, native who graduated in May with a master’s degree in occupational therapy, will teach English to high school students in Cambodia.

“I knew that I just spent three years learning how to teach or reteach life skills to people and I realized that speaking English is just another life skill and my academics will translate well to a classroom setting,” Dorsa said. “When trying to narrow down the country to apply to, Cambodia stuck out to me after learning that 65% of the population is under the age of 35. I believe the future of this world is in the hands of youth and, if I can play a small part in the lives of youth in Cambodia, it will be a greater honor than any degree I can earn.”

Shinnston native Giana Loretta will teach eighth and ninth grade students at Thomas Jefferson Second English Language School in Bulgaria. She graduated in May with degrees in political science, philosophy and communication studies and spent her final semester at WVU studying abroad in Strasbourg, France. A staunch proponent for improved academic opportunities and accessibility, Loretta applied for a Fulbright to expand her advocacy to the international level and gain experiences that will better prepare her to serve students.

“Bulgaria shares many similarities with West Virginia and was a natural selection for me,” she said. “Both are comprised of proud, hardworking citizens with rich histories and traditions. I firmly believe that all students have an inalienable right to an enriching, high-quality education, and I will strive to provide my students with elevated educational experiences. I want my students to look forward to participating in class, and I want to inspire them to become lifelong learners and more respectful global citizens.”

Ethan Nylander of Townsend, Delaware, is a recipient of the Fulbright-Harriet Hale Woolley Award in the Arts. Up to two awards are offered to students in visual fine arts or music each application cycle. Nylander, who graduated in May with a degree in flute performance, will study with a French-trained flutist in Paris while learning new work by French composers with preference for minority composers.

“I'm looking forward to engaging in the music scene in Europe,” he said. “With so many different countries and cities being close together, there is an abundance of excellent teachers and performers and I can't wait to hear so much wonderful music. I also can't wait to live in Paris and connect with music there through the history and architecture.”

Elkins native Lillian Rhinehart, an environmental, soil and water sciences alumna, will teach English in Indonesia. She was inspired to apply for the program after hearing about her older sister’s success. Connie Rhinehart, also a WVU alumna, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2019 and studied in Germany.

“To experience the world and be exposed to new cultures, cuisines, friends and communities, environments, religions and different ways of life are all critical in expanding your worldview and truly appreciating life,” she said. “It is a privilege to leave home and travel, and I am very excited to get such an immersive experience that I will no doubt carry with me for the rest of my life. Experiencing life abroad is also incredibly valuable to me as someone who wishes to dedicate my professional career to working with communities disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis.”

For Lily Wright, becoming a Fulbright Scholar is the next step in her journey to becoming a global citizen. A 2022 graduate with degrees in English and French, the Bluefield native will teach English in Brussels, Belgium. Passionate about human rights at home and abroad, she spent the last year as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for the WVU Center for Community Engagement and was recognized as a 2021 Humanity in Action Fellow.

“The constant learning from languages, people and places abroad excites me as someone who grew up in a small town in southern West Virginia,” Wright said. “I’m really excited to share little pieces of Appalachia with my students and to gain their perspective on U.S. and European Union current events.”

Huntington native Lauren Young, who graduated in December 2022 with a degree in biochemistry and a certification to teach high school chemistry, will utilize skills she gained at WVU to help students in South Korea learn English.

“I am particularly interested in extending the teaching experience I gained through the WVUteach program, as well as my experience as a tutor and WVU STEM Ambassador, to rural students in South Korea trying to learn English,” she said. “It’s a vital language for them to know as English is a vector for higher education and employment in South Korea.”

WVU students receive support from the ASPIRE Office as they compete for nationally competitive awards like the Fulbright Scholarship.



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