Record Number of SESP Students Named Fulbright Finalists

Record Number of SESP Students Named Fulbright Finalists

cesar_almeidaCesar Almeida, (first row, right) will produce a podcast in Ghana.

A school-record five School of Education and Social Policy students have been named finalists for the Fulbright Student program, one of the most widely recognized and respected international exchange opportunities.

Undergraduates Cesar Almeida, Catherine Ettinger, Meredith Falk, Ellen Furgis, and graduate student Caroline Gholson were selected for the awards, which support a year of study or research, or projects in the creative or performing arts, or teaching in more than 155 countries worldwide.

Northwestern is consistently ranked among the top Fulbright-producing research institutions in the country. And while SESP is Northwestern’s smallest college, it comprised 18 percent of this year’s Fulbright winners. 

The Fulbright competition is administered at Northwestern through the Office of Fellowships. The Northwestern campus application deadline is always early September for awards that last an academic year. Graduating seniors, alumni, and graduate students with U.S. passports are eligible to apply through Northwestern.

Learn more about our newest Fulbright finalists:

cesar almeidaCesar Almeida will travel to Ghana to produce a podcast in collaboration with the University of Ghana that will cover the difference between secular and sacred music, the history of copyright, the obstacles that current copyright laws pose for traditional communities in Ghana, and more. 

Leveraging his experience with learning technologies, media production, and research, Almeida will create a program that highlights and preserves the traditional culture. He also hopes to cover general areas of intellectual property rights for practicing music producers, filmmakers, and artists. Almeida previously led a music conservation workshop at the University of Ghana where he taught students how to record and sample traditional music in Ghana. He also researched whether the complexity of traditional Ghanaian music can be recreated on a digital beat pad, a device used to “make beats.” To learn more about his Ghana Project, follow the.kid.from.chicago on Instagram. 

Meredith Falk will be teaching English in Mexico and using her extensive dance background to furtherMeredith Falk connect with the community. After her freshman year, Falk taught with Breakthrough Collaborative in San Jose, California, a non-profit designed to support under-resourced students who hope to attend college. She said she quickly learned the importance of differentiating curriculum and how much academic and cultural learning occurs outside of traditional academic classes. “I’m constantly in search of adventure and new ways to learn and grow,” said Falk, who eventually hopes to work towards a Master’s in Education and add an English language learners endorsement to her teaching credentials.

cate-ettingerCatherine Ettinger, who worked as a refugee youth tutor for World Relief and an intern for the Heartland Alliance, is headed to Malaysia, where she’ll spend 10 months teaching English and facilitating educational camps and programs for students. She first discovered her love for teaching by tutoring peers and low-income English language learners in high school. At Northwestern, she studied history before transferring into SESP to dive deeper into education and social justice. “The Social Policy curriculum challenged me to adapt my thinking and find creative solutions for complex social problems,” she said. “SESP offered me opportunities to step into the role of teaching, and I regularly presented projects and research to my classes.” Her coursework stimulated her interest in working in education on an international level to create positive social change. “I sought out opportunities to become involved in new communities by combining my love for teaching and interest in refugee rights,” she said.

Ellen Furgis, who double majored in human development and psychological services and environmental science, will study community engagement with renewable energy systems on the Greek islands of Tilos and Sifnos. As a Community Engagement Chair of Northwestern University’s largest student-led philanthropic event, Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM), Furgis organized over 20 trainings for 500 committee members to discuss how systemic power, privilege, and oppression persist in volunteering. Her experiences informed her project in Greece, where she wants to “define citizen stakeholders as assets and better understand how they engaged in service to change,” she said. “My academic interests led me to renewable energy. My extra-curricular experiences made me passionate about empowering people to help themselves.”

caroline_gohlsonCaroline Gholson, who is pursuing her master’s in learning and organizational change, is a former Deloitte diversity recruiter with a deep commitment to women’s empowerment who will be teaching English in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “Mastery of the English language is a critical stepping stone to position Saudi women as key players in diversifying the Saudi economy,” she said. “Saudi women are balancing pivotal cultural changes, alongside respect for Islam’s pillars in order to find their place in Saudi, as well as western society.” Gholson recently taught English as a Second Language in a Massai village in Tanzania where she saw how English fluency can empower a community to pursue their passions. “Even with limited resources – no electricity and students who were unable to read or write in their native Kiswahili – the boost to each students confidence after a successful lesson was palpable,” she said.

 See our full list of Fulbright winners. Please email Julie Deardorff, director of communications, with updates.  



By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 9/25/19