The Fulbright Program marks its 75th anniversary in 2021

Journalist — and now Fulbright researcher — Katie Jickling ’15 will travel to Chennai in Southern India to study the efforts of two Protestant churches to build gender-inclusive leadership. Jickling is a recipient of a 2021 Fulbright Research/Study Award.

Katie Jickling '15
Katie Jickling '15

Five alumni, working with Hamilton Student Fellowships Coordinator Ginny Dosch, received 2021 Fulbrights. The other four recipients were awarded teaching assistantships. “It's not easy to get to any of the countries where they’ve been selected — and this year was the most competitive year in Fulbright’s 75-year history,” Dosch said.

Jickling views her project as a culmination of her long-held interests: supporting women and girls; faith and participating in a church; and journalism.  

“It feels like it provides an opportunity for me to better understand these questions that I engage with very regularly in very practical ways, and also to think more deeply about what I believe and how I want to engage with them going forward in my day-to-day faith or life or work,” she explained. 

As a Hamilton student, with training from the Levitt Center and funding from the Kirkland Endowment, she launched a small nonprofit organization to teach leadership, empowerment, and community-building to middle school girls in her hometown of Randolph, Vt. The nonprofit is still operating, and Jickling is running some of its programs this summer.

As a journalist, she has found that studying, analyzing, and interviewing are effective ways to understand — and even make change — within an institution or program. She’ll be using those skills during her Fulbright year.

The COVID-19 pandemic in India delayed her Fulbright start date, which has been pushed back to spring. Meanwhile, Jickling plans to begin work this fall on a master’s degree at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium and will take a break for the Fulbright.

Here’s a look at the other four alumni who received teaching assistantships.

Loren Rodriguez ’20 

She’ll work as a teaching assistant at a vocational school in Galicia, Spain. The experience dovetails with her long-held interest in education. A Hamilton neuroscience major, Rodriguez plans eventually to attend graduate school in the field. She’s been a tutor, in particular for English language learners. Her ultimate goal is to become a professor.

“I believe that the pedagogical skills I will acquire and sharpen as a result of the Fulbright, while not necessarily neuroscience-related, will be useful in my journey as a graduate student and in my journey to becoming a well-rounded professor,” she said. 

Cameron DiGiovanni ’20

From the time he learned about Fulbrights as a first-year student, DiGiovanni dreamed about getting one. He’ll be teaching English in Bosa, a city in Sardinia, Italy. He’s sure that studying Italian at Hamilton, including two study experiences in Italy, helped him land the assistantship. So did his experience as a tutor. DiGiovanni majored in literature and minored in communications.

“After Fulbright, I plan on going to law school. I recently deferred my acceptance to UVA Law, so I intend to start there in August of 2022. I’m particularly interested in international law,” he said.

Cesar Domenech Guerrero ’20

A German studies major, Guerrero will be teaching in Germany, in the city of Jena. Like DiGiovanni, Guerrero was determined from his first days at Hamilton to get a Fulbright. He gained teaching experience as an assistant in the Hispanic Studies and German Studies departments. 

He anticipates that he’ll be in Germany for at least several years. Post Fulbright, he will enter a master’s degree program in public policy at the University of Erfurt, which, like Jena, is in the state of Thüringen.

“After that, I plan to see if I can get a job in Germany, but if that doesn’t work, then I will probably apply to law school in the U.S.,” Guerrero said.

Wynston Pennybacker ’19

She’ll be working in Ukraine as a teaching assistant at a university. “My reasons for picking Ukraine and wanting to be an ETA are intertwined with each other,” she said. “First, I love the English language, and spend most of my free time reading, writing, and copy-editing for my writer friends, so the opportunity to assist with university-level English classes was a no-brainer for me.”

Pennybacker also loves teaching, working for the past two years as an 11th-grade writing teacher and as an intern at Texas College Access Network, a nonprofit that supports increasing college access for students in the state.

She welcomes the challenge of learning Ukrainian. At Hamilton she majored in Russian studies and history.  “Ukraine, also, will present an interesting fusion of a few of my non-language-related interests. For a long time now, I’ve enjoyed listening to contemporary Ukrainian music, so I hope to go to as many live shows as possible while I’m there,” she said.

Another strand of her interests — epic poems. As Pennybacker researched Ukraine, she learned that it is home to a long-standing pagan mythos which, she said, “produced a variety of strange and wonderful epic poems…” 

In the fall of 2022, she plans to enter the University of Indiana for a dual master’s degree in Russian studies and public affairs and envisions that she’ll eventually pursue a doctorate.

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