Fourteen Villanovans Awarded Prestigious Fulbright Scholarships

Villanova University is one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Scholars

14 Villanovans from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences received Fulbright recognition, marking the largest single-year number of Fulbright recipients in the University’s history

Fulbright Scholars

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Fourteen Villanovans have been selected to receive 2014-2015 Fulbright U.S. Student Grants as a part of The Fulbright Program, a prestigious international education exchange program sponsored by the United States government. These grants will allow the Fulbright Scholars to serve as international cultural ambassadors by performing research or teaching English in foreign countries. Villanova, listed among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Students by The Fulbright Program, has had at least one student selected for the coveted scholarships each year since 1994. Last year, nine Villanovans received Fulbright U.S. Student Grants.

All 14 of the University’s 2014-15 Fulbright recipients hail from Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Rachel Aumiller M.A. ’12, PhD ’15 CLAS, Mark Bookman ’14 CLAS, Samuel Ellison ’14 CLAS and Carl Ober ’13 CLAS have been awarded 2014-2015 Fulbright Full Grants to pursue independent post-baccalaureate-level research in Slovenia, Japan, the United Kingdom and Denmark, respectively. The remaining 10 Villanova Fulbright Scholars have been awarded Fulbright Teaching Assistantships (ETA) to teach English to non-native English, and are as follows: Colin Cascia ’13 CLAS in Germany; Jessica Eby ’14 CLAS in Laos; Meredith LaSalle –Tarantin M.A. ’14 CLAS in Morocco; Michelle McNamara ’12 CLAS in Thailand; Samantha Thoma ’14 CLAS in Turkey; Denis Whelan ’14 CLAS in Spain; Israel Hernandez ’13 CLAS in Malaysia; Andres Ortiz-Gomez ’12 CLAS in Brazil; Thomas Morris ’14 CLAS in Czech Republic; Bethany Wood ’14 CLAS in South Korea.

“These students will be tremendous ambassadors, and their achievement highlights the strong education they have received here,” said Jean Ann Linney, PhD, Dean, Villanova University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  “They have been engaged in a diverse academic experience designed to foster critical thinking and inspire creative solutions for a challenging and changing world.” 

The following are Villanova’s 2014-15 Fulbright Recipients:

  • Rachel Aumiller, of Philadelphia, is currently pursuing a PhD in Philosophy at Villanova. Aumiller holds a Master of Arts in Philosophy from Villanova and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Goucher College. She is a Philosophy Instructor at Villanova, and has worked as a music teacher at the U.S. Department of Labor school program. Aumiller received a Villanova Graduate Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Studies in Theology and Philosophy, and in 2012 she received a travel grant to study in Amsterdam. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Theta Kappa honors societies, and she is a professional musician/singer-songwriter. Aumiller will travel to Slovenia for her Fulbright Full Grant to pursue research for her PhD dissertation.
  • Mark Bookman, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Interdisciplinary Studies, minors in Japanese and Philosophy, as well as a concentration in Asian Studies. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi honors societies, as well as the Japanese National Honor Society. He was awarded a Villanova University Falvey Scholar Award for Humanities. Bookman spent the spring 2013 semester studying at Sophia University in Tokyo, and he will return to Japan for his Fulbright Grant where he will study Shingon Buddhist Epistemology and Semiotics.
  • Samuel Ellison, of Dresher, Pa., is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Political Science. During his time at Villanova, Ellison served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Villanovan student newspaper, and as captain of the Villanova Track & Field team. He is a six-time All American, and four-time Big East Champion. During the summer of 2012 he studied at the Universidad de Cadiz in Spain. During his Fulbright Full Grant, Ellison will study migration, policy and superdiversity at the University of Birmingham in England.
  • Colin Cascia, of Newtown, Conn., graduated from Villanova in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honors society and during his time at Villanova, he worked as a writing tutor at the Villanova Writing Center. He currently works at the Walnut Street Theater, teaches for the Princeton Review, and tutors writing at the Center for Literacy in Philadelphia. Cascia will spend his ETA Fulbright teaching English in Germany.
  • Jessica Eby, of Coatesville, Pa., a Villanova University Presidential Scholar, will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemisty, French and Francophone Studies, and Honors, as well as a concentration in Health Care Ethics. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, the Pi Delta Phi French Honor Society, and she was awarded the Medallion for Academic Excellence from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She studied at the Universite de Rennes Deux in Rennes, France in 2011. For her Fulbright ETA, Eby will teach English in Laos.
  • Israel Hernandez, of Summit, Ill., graduated from Villanova in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Interdisciplinary Studies. While at Villanova, he was involved in the Association for Change and Transformation, as well as the Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity. He interned at the National Hispanic Institute and was an English tutor at Centro Educativo Bethaba in San Jose, Costa Rica during the spring 2012 semester. Hernandez will teach English in Malaysia during his Fulbright ETA.
  • Meredith LaSalle – Tarantin, of Yardley, Pa., will graduate with a Master of Arts in Political Science. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Comparative Politics from the American University of Paris, and she studied at Eugene Lang College at The New School in New York City in 2011. LaSalle-Tarantin has worked as a research assistant at Villanova, a project lead at Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and a human resources lead at The Global Change Project. For her Fulbright ETA, she will teach English in Morocco.  
  • Michelle McNamara, of New Orleans, La., graduated from Villanova in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Honors in Organizational Communication Studies. McNamara is now a certified teacher and since the fall of 2012 she has been working for Teach for America as a fourth and fifth grade Social Studies and Science teacher at an elementary school in New Orleans. For her Fulbright ETA, McNamara will teach English in Thailand.
  • Thomas Morris, of Havertown, Pa., will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Honors, as well as minors in Humanities and Theology. Morris is a Connelly-Delouvrier International Scholar, a Ron Cruse International Fellow and a Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellow. He is the comedy director for Villanova University Television, as well as an accomplished musician having played in and directed multiple bands. During the fall 2012 semester Morris studied abroad in Czech Republic and returned during the summer of 2013 to research art. He will again travel to Czech Republic for his Fulbright ETA. 
  • Andres Ortiz-Gomez, of Baltimore, Md., a Villanova University Presidential Scholar, graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a concentration in Honors. He is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Education at Johns Hopkins University and for the past two years he has been working for Teach for America as a secondary Spanish teacher at Baltimore high school. Ortiz-Gomez will teach English in Brazil for his Fulbright ETA.
  • C. Nathan Ober, of Hagerstown, Md., a Villanova University Presidential Scholar, graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, History and Honors, and a minor in Peace & Justice. For the past year he has been working as an intern for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. Ober is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and was a recipient of a Medallion for Academic Excellence from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He is also an Eagle Scout. Ober will spend his Fulbright Full Grant researching the welfare model in Denmark.
  • Samantha Thoma, of Franklin Lakes, N.J., is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and minors in Ethics, Politics and Law, as well as a concentration in Honors. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honors societies, a Connelly-Delouvrier International Scholar, a prison literacy tutor, a Villanova Ambassador and a member of the Special Olympics Executive Committee. Thoma studied in Grenada, Spain during the fall 2012 semester. She will spend her Fulbright ETA in Turkey.
  • Denis Whelan, of Milford, Conn., is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Minor in Spanish. Whelan is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, an active Habitat for Humanity and mission service trip volunteer, member of the Blue Key Society, a New Student Orientation Counselor and a Resident’s Assistant. During the fall 2012 semester, Whelan studied at the Universidad de Alcalá in Spain, and he will be returning to Spain for his Fulbright ETA.
  • Bethany Wood, of Mendham, N.J., will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Honors in Global Interdisciplinary Studies and Humanities, and minors in Political Science and French and Francophone Studies. Wood is a member of Phi Kappa Phi honors society and she is a 2012 Connelly-Delouvrier International Scholar. Wood spent the spring 2013 semester at the Université Catholique de Lille, France and the summer of 2012 attending a program in politics, culture and society in Prague. During her Fulbright ETA, Wood will teach English in South Korea.

“This has been an incredible year, with Villanova students winning both the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, and now a record number of Fulbright recipients,” said Jane Morris, Director of the University’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. “Such formal recognition is a result of our exceptional students, our world-class academics and research, and our outstanding faculty mentors. These students have excelled academically, and have dedicated countless hours to volunteer efforts and research that has already had a positive impact on society. They will move forward into the global community and join Villanova’s long history of Fulbright Scholars who are using their gifts to serve.”

In addition to the 14 Villanovans awarded Fulbright Scholarships for 2014-2015, Russell Quiñones,’13 CLAS of Staten Island, N.Y., a 2013-2014 Fulbright ETA recipient teaching English in Spain, was granted another Fulbright ETA scholarship to remain in Madrid for an additional year.

About The Fulbright Program: The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The Program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.