Pitzer Students Lead in Fulbrights

Last week, Pitzer College announced five new recipients of the Fulbright Fellowship: Alex Kenyon PI ’09, Jeffrey Bandler PI ’09, Yasuhiro Sekiyama PI ’09, Joshua Lo PI ’09, and Jason Morales PI ’09. In late March, Pitzer announced that Michele Hatchette PI ’09, Magee Clegg PI ’09, Tara Beatty PI ’08, and Laura Beck-Pancer PI ’08 had been awarded the prestigious fellowship. All 5-C Fulbright winners will be notified over the next two months.

Hatchette, who is an international and intercultural studies major, will spend her Fulbright year teaching English in Indonesia. She plans to pursue her interest in health and diet issues by getting involved in a number of personal projects during her time there.

“My mom is a vegan chef and nutritionist, and I’ve always been interested in other countries, and what their diets are like,” said Hatchette.

Hatchette would like to do a comparison with the United States based on diet and exercise and their link to diseases. She also looks forward to volunteering in a youth organization in Indonesia. She took a half-credit course at Pitzer designed specifically to prepare students for prestigious scholarships such as the Fulbright and Watson.

“They prepare you really, really well, and the advising is amazing,” said Hatchette, who studied abroad in Spain and Botswana.

Clegg plans to go to the Philippines to film a documentary about the effects of the rice shortage on the population. For Clegg, the Fulbright Fellowship was the result of a journey that started in 2007, when he took a semester off to travel to India and live on a rice farm. A lot of villagers were migrating to cities, and there were not enough laborers left to tend the rice fields. This story stuck with him, and during his junior year, he raised $15,000 to go back and film a documentary about it. This eventually turned into his senior thesis. Clegg decided to apply for a Fulbright because he wanted to continue making documentary films.

“I researched which countries were being most affected by the rice shortage, and the Philippines was first on the list,” said Clegg.

Lo, a sociology and religious studies major, plans to teach English at a high school in rural South Korea.

“I hope to be able to open new doors, [and] provide new opportunities for these students,” said Lo. “My parents were Chinese immigrants. My first language was Mandarin, but I went to preschool at the age of two, before I learned how to speak English. I remember it being frustrating not being able to communicate.”

He is also interested in studying the role of Christianity in Korean society.

“Korea has a lot of Christian churches,” said Lo. “Eleven out of the world’s 13 largest churches are in Korea. I want to look at why that is, and how it influences Korean culture.”

Having never studied abroad, Lo looks forward to being able to travel and live in a foreign place.

Sekiyama is an economics major with a focus on East Asian studies. He also plans to spend his Fulbright year teaching in South Korea. He is already fluent in Korean, and wants to be able to speak the language at a “business level.” For Sekiyama, who is part Korean, going to Korea will also be a way of getting in touch with his cultural roots.

“My father is Japanese and my mother is Korean, but I grew up Japanese,” said Sekiyama. “It wasn’t until college that I became interested in Korea, and wanted to learn more about being Korean.”

Bandler, who majors in globalization culture, will travel to Malaysia to teach English. During his junior year, Bandler studied abroad in Thailand, and spent two weeks in Malaysia during the same trip.

“Malaysia is a unique mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Portuguese cultures,” said Bandler. “The people are really friendly, and it is such a beautiful place.”

While in Malaysia, he plans to learn the language, and immerse himself in the community. For Bandler, a major reason for applying for a Fulbright fellowship was his interest “in trying to understand things from other perspectives.”

Kenyon, a psychology major, studied abroad in Nepal and plans to travel to Malaysia to teach English. Morales, a political science major, plans to teach English in Spain. Beatty, an anthropology major, will spend her Fulbright year in Portugal. Beck-Pancer, whose major was global health and social justice, plans to teach English in Indonesia. Beatty and Beck-Pancer studied abroad in Brazil while at Pitzer.

The U.S. Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs sponsors the Fulbright Fellowship, and approximately 7,000 grants are awarded each year. The Fellowship allows recipients to travel to over 155 countries to teach or do research. Since 2002, Pitzer has had the highest number of Fulbright awards per capita of any institution in the country.

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