Siena Scholars Awarded Fulbright Grants

Siena Scholars Awarded Fulbright Grants

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Siena seniors, Susana Garcia ’17 and Jenna Kersten ’17 and alumnus Eben Yonnetti ’12 have been selected for the 2017-2018 prestigious Fulbright U.S. Program, which offers research, study and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. Garcia and Kersten were both selected for English Teaching Assistant programs, where they will both be placed in schools overseas to supplement and support the institution’s English language instruction. Yonnetti will be completeing a Fulbright International Educational Exchange (IEE) program. 

Garcia, a senior English major with minors in Italian and Writing and Communications, will be living and working in Mexico. With the help of Greg Jabaut, associate director of international programs, and the rest of Siena’s Office of International Programs, Garcia navigated through a lengthy 8-month application process. They worked together to narrow down her location selection, review written statements, prepare for her semi-finalist interview, and overall, the staff provided emotional support to Garcia throughout the entire process.

Garcia’s decision to apply to the Fulbright Program’s Mexico fellowship stemmed from her experience growing up in a diverse community.

“Port Chester, NY has always been a very diverse town, and today is mostly comprised of Latinos. My parents and I were immigrants to Port Chester, so I've grown up seeing the struggles of Spanish speakers trying to learn English and adapt to American customs. For those reasons, I knew I wanted to go to a Spanish-speaking country and ultimately decided on Mexico so I can completely immerse myself in the Mexican half of my cultural identity, something I have never truly been able to do before."

Kersten, an English major with minors in German and International Studies, will be located in Germany. During her time at Siena, she has been exploring the possibility of pursuing a career in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), so this experience will give her a foot in the door to decide if this is the path she would like to take.

“My choice of Germany as my Fulbright location was a logical one, given my interest in improving my German and from my semester abroad in Berlin. Additionally, I am interested in learning more about and becoming involved with efforts at refugee resettlement and adjustment practices in Germany, and thought the Fulbright ETA would be one way in which to approach this.”

Yonnetti, a history major and religious studies and German minor during his time at Siena, is currently finishing up his MA in Religious Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. He will be traveling to India for his Fulbright program to examine the role that Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhist teachers are playing in garnering support for environmental projects that aim to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“It was close relationships with faculty in the History, Religious Studies and other departments during my time at Siena that really served as the basis for my subsequent work and pursuit of a career in scholarship and teaching. Professors Perundevi Srinivasan, Tim Cooper, James Harrison, and Father Dan Dwyer in particular were great mentors and amazing human beings to work with.”

After returning from the Fulbright program, Yonnetti will begin work toward his Ph.D. in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.

Yonnetti, Kersten and Garcia join the elite group of Siena graduates who have received Fulbright Teaching Assistantships.

2012: Matthew Grimes ’12 - Argentina
2015: Jamie Derosier ’15 - Malaysia
2015: Keva Luke ’14 - Argentina
2015: Matthew Schiesel ’15 - Poland
2016: Angelique Turman Corchado ’15 - Brazil
2017: Susana Garcia ’17 - Mexico
2017: Jenna Kersten ’17 - Germany
2017: Eben Yonnetti ’12 - India