Faculty, staff pursue opportunities thanks to scholarships, fellowships

August 23, 2023 (Volume 46, Number 20)
Article by Brian Vernellis

drone photo of the Allendale Campus with Rapid buses moving on Campus Drive

Thirteen students and faculty earned competitive scholarships from domestic or international programs.

Photo Credit: Amanda Pitts

Senior Kobe Wright has been waiting his whole life for his upcoming study abroad trip. Wright, a Kentwood native, said he’s ready to explore the world, thanks to receiving a scholarship to help with his trip.

Wright was one of several students and faculty members who received a scholarship or fellowship this year to pursue studying, teaching or conducting research, either domestically or internationally.

“I really am looking forward to getting a worldly perspective because I've lived in Michigan my whole life,” Wright said. “I really want to see that life is much more than just America. I really want to explore and see where else I can live, and where I could see myself in the future.”

Wright, Colin Blassingame and Brittany Pomierski received the IIE Freeman-ASIA scholarship, enabling them to continue their studies abroad. Wright and Blassingame will be studying at the International Christian University in Tokyo.

Blassingame, majoring in physics and writing, said he’s looking forward to immersion in Japanese culture. 

“The No. 1 reason why I came to Grand Valley was to take Japanese language courses,” Blassingame said. 

“I've been interested in the language and the culture and as far as why I'm taking physics out there is I've been interested for most of my life in astronomy. And so this feels like the best way to get into the professional world of astronomy is starting with physics.” 

Gilman Scholarship
A trio of Lakers spent their summer in Africa and Japan, thanks to the Gilman Scholarship.

Mayra Sedano-Rodriguez, Joshua Zolen and Morgan Ponchaud joined programs led by GVSU faculty with the scholarship lending support to their trips. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs awards Gilman Scholarships to encourage and engage students in foreign policy.

Zolen, who recently graduated with a degree in education, joined Lisa Kasmer, associate professor of mathematics education, on her study abroad program in Tanzania. 

“Teaching in the classrooms, interacting with the kids, meeting the kids, building relationships with the kids was priceless,” Zolen said. “I miss them pretty much every single day.

“I loved it and just recently I went through and looked through all my pictures that I have, and now I’m ready to go back.”

Phi Kappa Phi 
Madison Smith, ’23, received the prestigious Phi Kappa Phi fellowship this summer for her graduate studies. Smith was one of 62 students to receive a Phi Kappa Phi fellowship.

Smith, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, will pursue a master’s degree in forensic chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Five GVSU faculty members spent the 2022-2023 academic year abroad after being named Fulbright Scholars — Medar Serrano, Jim Persoon, Sherie Klee, Salvatore Alaimo and Hermann Kurthen.

Beth Macauley, associate professor of communications sciences and disorders, was named a Fulbright Specialist in June. 

North American Language and Culture 
Gabrielle Bogataj received the North American Language and Culture fellowship from the Education Office of the Embassy of Spain to teach English in Spain.



Featured Across Campus

This article was last edited on August 21, 2023 at 3:43 p.m.

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