Baylor Off to Record-breaking Pace with Prestigious International Scholarships
University breaks its still-growing Fulbright record with 13 recipients, adds first Truman Scholar since 2007
UPDATE: On May 4, Baylor announced its 14th Fulbright recipient Faith VanVleet and two Boren Scholarship winners José Arráiz-Rada and Madeline French. RELATED STORY HERE
WACO, Texas (April 14, 2022) – Baylor University students from across the disciplines are off to a record-setting 2021-2022 academic year by receiving some of the most prestigious – and competitive – scholarships, fellowships and internships at the national and international levels for critical language study, STEM research, public policy and more. These awards include a record-shattering 13 Fulbrights – a number that is still growing and likely to place Baylor among the top producers of Fulbright Scholars among U.S. research institutions – as well as Baylor’s first Truman Scholar in 15 years and recipients of the Goldwater Scholarship, Critical Language Scholarship and Churchill Scholarship.
The student award season will continue throughout the spring semester, as Baylor awaits word on additional Fulbrights and other prestigious scholarships for which students are finalists, including the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship and Boren Awards.
“This year’s success offers further proof that Baylor is indeed fulfilling its mission to educate for worldwide leadership and service. We are proud to fling our green and gold afar by sending these remarkable Baylor Bears to all corners of the globe through prestigious programs like Fulbright, Truman, Churchill and others,” said Andrew P. Hogue, Ph.D., associate dean for engaged learning at Baylor. “It’s important to note that behind every one of these students, you will also find a group of dedicated faculty and staff who have believed in them, mentored them, taught them, and served them. This is the hallmark of a Baylor education, and it’s highly unusual among our peers at Research 1 universities – world-class faculty producing at high levels while pouring heart and soul into helping their students flourish.”
Baylor has a record number Fulbright recipients – at 13 and still counting – in 2021-2022. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, with the goal to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright provides opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research and teaching in all fields of study and in more than 140 countries worldwide. The highly competitive awards include the Fulbright Study/Research Award, a traditional award opportunity where a candidate designs a proposal for a specific country, and the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award, which places grantees in classrooms overseas to provide assistance to local English teachers while also serving as cultural ambassadors for the United States.
So far, Baylor’s 2022 Fulbright recipients are:
- Gloria Conatser, senior secondary social studies major, School of Education, from Waco, Texas, Fulbright ETA to Germany
- Tashi Flaig, B.A. ’18 (language and linguistics), College of Arts & Sciences, from Waco, Texas, Fulbright ETA to Colombia
- Ashlyn Freemyer, senior University Scholar, Honors College, from Woodway, Texas, Fulbright ETA to Bulgaria
- Olivia Gorrell, senior applied music and German major, School of Music, College of Arts & Sciences, from Belton, Texas, Fulbright ETA to Germany
- Courtney Haubert, senior philosophy and psychology major, College of Arts & Sciences, from Dublin, California, Fulbright ETA to Bulgaria
- Preston Iha, senior religion major, College of Arts & Sciences, from Honolulu, Hawaii, ETA to Timor-Leste
- Andrew Kim, senior University Scholar, Honors College, from The Woodlands, Texas, Fulbright ETA to Taiwan
- Raquel Nunez, master’s candidate in Spanish, College of Arts & Sciences, from Conroe, Texas, Fulbright ETA to Brazil
- Saawan Patel, senior Baylor Business Fellow (Management), Hankamer School of Business, from Pasadena, Texas, Fulbright ETA to Montenegro
- Nathan Rowan, senior statistics and sociology major, College of Arts & Sciences, from Phoenix, Arizona, Fulbright Study/Research Award to Denmark
- Gloria Smith, master’s candidate in Spanish, College of Arts & Sciences, from Plano, Texas, Fulbright ETA to Brazil
- Alexandra Tyra, doctoral candidate in psychology, College of Arts & Sciences, from Phoenix, Arizona, Fulbright Study/Research Award to the UK (University of Birmingham)
- Camille Watson, senior University Scholar (Russian, professional writing and rhetoric), Honors College, College of Arts & Sciences, from Kandern, Germany, Fulbright ETA to Azerbaijan
- UPDATE: 14th FULBRIGHT ANNOUNCED MAY 4, 2022: Faith VanVleet, senior University Scholar (Slavic and Eastern European Studies, International Studies), Honors College, College of Arts & Sciences, from The Woodlands, Fulbright ETA to Ukraine (Poland)
Baylor’s previous record number of Fulbright recipients in a single year was seven in 2019. With the current number of 13 Fulbright recipients, the University anticipates reaching another major milestone as a “Fulbright Top Producer,” a status typically reserved for top universities in the country.
Baylor student Veronica Bonifacio Penales, a senior international studies and professional writing and rhetoric major, College of Arts & Sciences, from Shreveport, Louisiana, is the first Baylor student to receive the prestigious Truman Scholarship since 2007 and the ninth Baylor student awarded the Truman since the program began in 1977. She also studies within the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and Honors Program in the Honors College.
Truman Scholars demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector and academic excellence. Each Truman Scholar receives funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government. With the Truman, Penales hopes to attend law school and earn a joint J.D./M.P.P. degree. Her career plans include working as a litigation attorney and continue advocating for marginalized and disenfranchised individuals. She hopes later to serve as a senior legal counsel at a nonprofit organization and potentially run for public office.
For the fifth straight year, a Baylor student has received a Goldwater Scholarship, the preeminent undergraduate scholarship given in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics that encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in STEM fields.
Baylor’s 2022 Goldwater Scholarship recipient is Arvind Muruganantham, a senior biology major, College of Arts & Sciences, from Fremont, California. Muruganantham plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in stem cell biology with a goal to conduct research on organoids and stem cell-based disease modeling techniques while teaching at the university level.
The Goldwater is given by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation in honor of Sen. Barry Goldwater and is part of an ongoing partnership with the Department of Defense National Defense Education Programs (NDEP) to increase the number of awards offered annually to promote equity and inclusion of underrepresented groups.
Critical Language ScholarshipBaylor has two undergraduates who have been named recipients of the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship, an intensive and immersive program to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages critical to national security and economic prosperity
Baylor CLS recipients are:
- Mina Dwumfour-Poku, a senior biology major, College of Arts & Sciences, from Sunnyvale, Texas, who plans to study Swahili in Tanzania; and
- Uchechukwu Oguchi, a senior University Scholar, Honors College, from The Woodlands, Texas, who plans to study Arabic in Oman through a virtual program.
The CLS program is a summer study abroad opportunity that provides students with rigorous academic instruction in 15 languages for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Playing an important role in preparing students for the 21st century's globalized workforce and increasing national competitiveness, the CLS program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.
Earlier this year, Baylor University senior chemistry major Kate Rojales of Milton, Georgia, was named as one of 18 recipients of the Churchill Scholarship in mathematics, science and engineering, announced by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States. Rojales, who conducts research as an undergraduate in inorganic chemistry in the College of Arts & Sciences, is the second Churchill Scholar in just two years of Baylor being a participating institution in the program.
The Churchill Scholarship provides funding to American students for a year of master’s study at Churchill College in the University of Cambridge. The program was set up at the request of Sir Winston Churchill to fulfill his vision of U.S.-UK scientific exchange with the goal of advancing science and technology on both sides of the Atlantic, helping to ensure future prosperity and security. She will pursue a Master of Philosophy in chemistry with a project focused on the synthesis and reactivity of novel artificial metalloenzymes under Cambridge professors, Dr. Paul Barker and Dr. Sally Boss.
Finalists await decision about Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, Boren Awards
Baylor also has student finalists for additional top scholarships, included finalists for the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, one of the top scholarships for college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment, and finalists for a Boren Award, which funds the intensive study of language and culture abroad by U.S. undergraduate or graduate students.
The Udall Scholarship honors the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall, whose careers had a significant impact on Native American self-governance, health care, and the stewardship of public lands and natural resources.
Boren Awards, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and who wish to work in the federal national security arena.
UPDATE: BOREN WINNERS ANNOUNCED MAY 4, 2022: José Arráiz-Rada, senior philosophy and international studies major from Katy, Texas, who will study Mandarin in Taiwan at National Taiwan University, and Madeline French, junior language and linguistics major from League City, Texas, who will study Japanese at Hosei University in Japan.In exchange for funding, Boren Awards alumni commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation. It is guided by a mission that seeks to lead in development of the national capacity to educate U.S. citizens, understand foreign cultures, strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness and enhance international cooperation and security.
Office of Engaged Learning
Baylor students who seek a rich transformational undergraduate education are supported by Baylor’s Office of Engaged Learning, which partners with students, in collaboration with faculty and staff throughout the University, to help them maximize their scholarship beyond the classroom. Students are supported as they apply and compete for prestigious scholarships, fellowships, internships and research experiences at the national and international level, including the Fulbright, Churchill, Truman, Gates Cambridge, Boren and Rhodes, and for other notable awards, such as the Goldwater, Pickering, Critical Language Scholarship, Udall and National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.