Strong Student Success Continues for Prestigious International, National Scholarships
From 12 Fulbrights to second-straight Truman and more, 17 students and recent alumni receive highly competitive scholarships
[UPDATED to add two additional Baylor University Fulbright recipients - Shrivalli Penumerthy and Saba Sultan - announced after this news release was published, bringing the total number to 12.]
WACO, Texas (April 24, 2023) – Baylor University students from across the disciplines have continued their strong momentum into the 2022-2023 academic year by receiving some of the most prestigious – and highly competitive – scholarships and fellowships at the national and international levels for public policy and diplomacy, critical language study, STEM research and more.
These awards include 12 Fulbright recipients – along with seven alternates who could ultimately receive the award – as well as Baylor’s second Truman Scholar in a row and recipients of the Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Peace and Reconciliation, Goldwater Scholarship, Boren Award, Critical Language Scholarship, and the Marshall and Churchill scholarships.
“Once again, our students have shown that a Baylor education is preparation for worldwide leadership and service of the highest order. These students are a marvel, and what they have achieved is extraordinary,” said Andrew P. Hogue, Ph.D., associate dean for engaged learning at Baylor. “More than a recognition, these awards represent for our students the opportunity of a lifetime—for study and research at the highest levels, for diplomacy and cultural exchange in communities around the world and for leadership experiences that will bring encounter with human need and opportunities to promote human flourishing.”
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, expanding perspectives through academic and professional advancement and cross-cultural dialogue. In partnership with more than 140 countries worldwide, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers unparalleled opportunities in all academic disciplines to passionate and accomplished graduating college seniors, graduate students and young professionals from all backgrounds.
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 place grantees in schools overseas to supplement local English language instruction and to provide a native speaker presence in the classrooms.
Baylor’s 2023 Fulbright recipients are:
- Laxmisanjana Ade, a senior neuroscience major, College of Arts & Sciences, from Schaumburg, Illinois: Fulbright ETA to Colombia;
- Caroline Barnett, a senior University Scholar with concentrations in political science, ancient languages and philosophy, Honors College, from Spring, Texas: Fulbright Study/Research to Israel;
- Sudili Fernando, a senior biology major, College of Arts & Sciences, from Fort Collins, Colorado: Fulbright Study/Research to Ireland;
- Melissa Heald, a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Nursing Practice-Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program, Louise Herrington School of Nursing, from Houston, Texas: Fulbright Study/Research Award to the UK (Wales);
- Lauren Jarvis, a senior University Scholar with concentrations in political science, economics and international studies, Honors College, from Boerne, Texas: Fulbright ETA to Kosovo;
- Lindsay Lassiter, M.A. ’21, temporary lecturer in Spanish, College of Arts & Sciences, from Spokane, Washington: Fulbright ETA to Costa Rica;
- Patrick Leech, doctoral candidate in history, College of Arts & Sciences, from Tyler, Texas: Fulbright Study/Research Award to Hungary;
- Shrivalli Penumerthy, B.S. '23 (Health Science Studies/Baylor Interdisciplinary Core), from Cedar Park, Texas: Fulbright ETA to Taiwan.
- Travis Pierce, B.S. ’22 (biology, German), College of Arts & Sciences, from Santa Barbara, California: Fulbright ETA to Germany;
- Lauren Roe, B.A. ’21 (University Scholar/BIC/Honors Program), Honors College, from Flagstaff, Arizona: Fulbright ETA to Czech Republic;
- Saba Sultan, B.A. '23 (Psychology), College of Arts & Sciences, from Hoover, Alabama: Fulbright ETA to Argentina; and
- Tyler Rossow, a senior Baylor Business Fellows majoring in economics, political science and philosophy, Hankamer School of Business, from Tulsa, Oklahoma: Fulbright ETA to Vietnam;
In February, Baylor University was named a Fulbright Top Producing Institution for U.S. Students by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This recognition is given to the U.S. colleges and universities that received the highest number of applicants selected for the 2022-23 Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Baylor had 14 students selected for Fulbright awards in 2022.
For the second year in a row, a Baylor student has received the Truman Scholarship, the premier graduate scholarship for aspiring public service leaders in the United States.
Kaitlyn Vana, a senior double major in mathematics and Slavic and East European studies, College of Arts & Sciences, from Celina, Texas, is Baylor’s 10th Baylor student awarded the Truman since the program began in 1977. 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.
A member of Air Force ROTC at Baylor, Vana hopes to commission as a pilot and use her language skills in Russian, Ukrainian and Azerbaijani to better promote international cooperation. Her regional studies, alongside the Air Force’s aerospace studies courses, provide a unique opportunity to consider women’s roles in U.S. military culture. She intends to use her experiences to advocate for women’s issues within the Armed Forces, bringing attention to the lack of direction or urgency in addressing the military’s female recruitment and retention crisis. She plans to pursue an M.A. in Russian, East European and Eurasian studies and an M.A. in global policy studies with emphasis on security, law and diplomacy, then spend time as a Eurasian Air Force Foreign Area Officer to help shape foreign policy.
Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Peace and Reconciliation
Senior Caroline Barnett, who also was selected for a Fulbright Study/Research to Israel, is Baylor’s first recipient of the Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Peace and Reconciliation given by Queen's University Belfast. The award provides a full tuition-fee waiver to an exceptional female student from the United States who wishes to pursue study in a field related to politics, conflict transformation or human rights.
Passionate about the intersection of politics, religion and its implications for intra- and international peace, Barnett will pursue a Master of Arts in Violence, Terrorism and Security at Queen’s that provides students with a critical and analytical approach to the study of the use of political violence and terrorism in history and the contemporary world. Barnett’s academic focus has been on addressing the growing political division in the United States and the experiences of disenfranchised communities in large-scale politics. By studying in Northern Ireland, she hopes to better understand the impacts of this marginalization and how to employ conflict resolution to resolve and prevent further political violence.
For the sixth 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 research careers in STEM fields. Baylor’s 2023 Goldwater Scholarship recipient is Alagu Subramanian, a senior University Scholar with concentrations in biology and medical humanities, Honors College/College of Arts & Sciences, from San Ramon, California. He is an undergraduate researcher with the Taube Lab at Baylor.
Subramanian plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in translational oncology and practice academic medicine while conducting research in translational drug discovery and developing first-in-class therapeutics with the biotechnology field.
The Goldwater is given by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation and is part of an ongoing partnership with the Department of Defense National Defense Education Programs to increase the number of awards offered annually to promote equity and excellence in scientific discovery.
Two Baylor students have been selected for the Boren Award, which funds the intensive study of language and culture abroad by U.S. undergraduate or graduate students:
- Jade Franklin, a senior international studies/Asian studies major, College of Arts & Sciences, from Honolulu, Hawaii, who will study Japanese at Nanzan University in Japan; and
- Emma Wrona, a senior University Scholar and International Studies major, Honors College/College of Arts & Sciences, from Fort Collins, Colorado, who will study Turkish at the Turkish Flagship Language Initiative in Azerbaijan.
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. In exchange for funding, Boren Awards alumni commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.
Critical Language Scholarship
Baylor has three students who have been named recipients of the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship, which provides opportunities for American college and university students to study languages and cultures essential to America's engagement with the world. The CLS Program is designed to promote rapid language gains and essential intercultural fluency in regions that are critical to U.S. national security and economic prosperity.
Baylor CLS recipients are:
- Katrina Gallegos, a master’s candidate in museum studies, College of Arts & Sciences, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, who plans to study Portuguese in Brazil over the summer;
- Willie Leggett, a junior international studies/environmental studies major, College of Arts & Sciences, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who plans to participate CLS Spark, an initiative of the CLS Program, for summer virtual study of Chinese; and
- Kaitlyn Vana, who received the CLS but also was selected for the Truman Scholarship.
Marshall, Churchill Scholarships
During the 2022-2023 academic year, Baylor students also claimed the prestigious Marshall and Churchill scholarships. Lauren Jarvis, who also was selected this year for a Fulbright ETA, was one of only 40 high-achieving students nationwide – and one of only two from Texas universities – to receive the Marshall Scholarship. She is Baylor’s sixth Marshall Scholar and third since 2015. She will begin graduate studies in the United Kingdom, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the scholarship.
Arvind Muruganantham, a senior cell and molecular biology major on the pre-med track from Fremont, California, was among 16 recipients of the highly selective Churchill Scholarship in science, mathematics and engineering. He is an unprecedented third consecutive Churchill Scholar for Baylor in only three years of the University’s participation as nominating institution. Muruganantham will pursue an M.Phil. in developmental biology at Churchill College, Cambridge. He also received the Goldwater Scholarship in 2022.
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).
“Propelling each of these students is a great cloud of witnesses here at Baylor—faculty and staff who have mentored and guided them, have enlarged their ambitions and have encouraged and supported them in efforts to reach for these major fellowships and awards,” Hogue said. “How joyous to celebrate these milestones as the markers of a transformational education.”
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 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.