Four University of Arkansas Students Named 2019 Fulbright Scholars
Fulbright Scholars top, l-r:. Anthony Azzun and Christopher Cowan; bottom, l-r: Chen-Bo Fang and Sarah Kouchehbagh
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Two University of Arkansas seniors and two graduate students have been awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards for the upcoming academic year.
Anthony Azzun of Bolivar, Missouri; Christopher Cowan of Overland Park, Kansas; and Sarah Kouchehbagh of Fayetteville received English teaching assistantships. Chen-Bo Fang of Little Rock received a study/research award.
These four students join over 2,100 U.S. citizens who will conduct research, teach English and provide expertise abroad for the 2019-2020 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as their record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.
“The Fulbright Program is dear to our hearts in this college,” said Todd Shields, dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. “And these four students exemplify the outstanding students this program attracts and rewards with exceptional experiences abroad. We are so proud of them and all of their accomplishments and cannot wait to see where this opportunity leads them next.”
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.
“Congratulations to these scholars,” said Curt Rom, associate dean for international education. “The Fulbright U.S. Scholars Program is a terrific opportunity for students to continue their academic careers in an international context. DeDe Long, former director of the Study Abroad Office, served as the Fulbright Program Adviser for 26 years, retiring just this spring and leaving an outstanding record of support. I have no doubt that great support will continue in the future as Jonathan Langley takes on the role of FPA. The Graduate School is looking forward to working collaboratively with the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards to expand the number of students who have this exceptional opportunity.”
Langley, associate director for the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, is the newly-appointed Fulbright Program adviser for the U of A. The 2020-2021 competition cycle is already open, and the campus deadline for this year’s applicants is Sept. 10. U of A students who are interested in applying for competitive scholarships like the Fulbright Scholarship should contact the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards
Anthony Azzun, an honors biochemistry senior with minors in biology, French and Spanish, will complete his English teaching assistantship in Andorra, an independent principality located between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains. Azzun is a Toller Honors College Fellow and Presidential Scholar in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
He has been involved with the Volunteer Action Center, as a group leader with the Conversation Club and as an Honors College Ambassador. He has also volunteered in the community as a library tutor through the Boys and Girls Club and at Tri Cycle Farms. He is the recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award in recognition of his community service, and the Gearhart Service Award for his outstanding service to the Honors College. He has conducted undergraduate research with Hassan Beyzavi, assistant professor of chemistry. Azzun plans to complete medical and doctoral degrees and pursue international medical work.
“I am incredibly excited and grateful for the opportunity to teach American culture through the Fulbright Scholarship,” Azzun said. “Diversity education in particular has always been a passion of mine, and I cannot wait to share what I have learned during my time as a Razorback with students in Andorra.”
Christopher Cowan is preparing to complete a master’s degree in geography. His graduate research mentor is Edward Holland, assistant professor of geography and his adviser for his thesis on the Kyrgyz Republic. Cownan will be an English teaching assistant in Uzbekistan.
Cowan graduated from the U of A summa cum laude in the spring of 2017 with a degree in international relations and Middle East studies with a minor in Arabic and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. As an undergraduate, he was heavily involved with the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies, was an officer in Gamma Theta Upsilon Geography Honor Society, participated in Students for Refugees and interned at the British Consulate-General of Houston in the summer of 2015. Cowan was recently named an alternate for the Boren Graduate Fellowship, and he received a Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship that will allow him to study Persian at Indiana University, Bloomington, this summer. He plans to complete a doctorate and enter academia following a federal career.
“I am both thrilled and deeply humbled by the opportunity to represent the University of Arkansas and the United States as a Fulbright ETA and citizen-diplomat in Uzbekistan,” Cowan said. “Having previously traveled and studied in the Middle East and Central Asia, I observed firsthand the power of public and citizen diplomacy and cross-cultural exchange. I am honored to continue Senator Fulbright’s legacy of ‘peace through education,’ and likewise look forward to enriching the lives of my students and community in Uzbekistan.”
Chen-Bo Fang is a senior in honors biology, international and global studies and Asian studies major with a minor in Chinese, business orientation. He is a Bodenhamer Fellow, Governor’s Distinguished Scholar and National Merit Scholar in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in 2017. He will use his study/research award in China, where he will investigate the benefit of increased diversity in genetic databases that are used for DNA analysis.
Fang has served as treasurer of the campus Chinese Student and Scholar Association, and he has also volunteered at Camp Aldersgate and in the Emergency Department of the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks. He has participated in two intensive Mandarin language-learning programs in China, in addition to studying abroad in South Africa, Sweden and Vietnam. In the summer of 2016, he completed an internship with the National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas, and he also completed a 2018 summer internship researching kidney disease genetics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. Fang has performed undergraduate research on campus with Ka Zeng, professor of political science. He plans to pursue a dual MD/MPH degree and work in international medicine.
“I first discovered the Fulbright Scholarship when I learned about Senator Fulbright in my intro to international studies class, and I have wanted to take on the Fulbright mission ever since then,” Fang said. “I am very excited to study and research in China, and I hope that I will build friendships and increase understanding in our shared world.”
Sara Kouchehbagh is completing a master’s in geography. Her research mentor is Fiona Davidson, associate professor of geography, who advised her thesis on the fiscal effects of changing migration policy in Germany due to mass Syrian migration. She will serve as an English teaching assistant in Azerbaijan.
Kouchehbagh graduated from the U of A in 2015 with a bachelor’s in international relations and Middle East studies. She is currently a graduate teaching associate for the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies, and she received a Sturgis International Research Fellowship to study migration policy and Persian at SOAS University of London in 2018. She has previously worked and volunteered as an ESL teacher, both through the Paper Airplanes organization and the Ozark Literacy Council. Before beginning her graduate studies, Kouchehbagh held multiple internships with the United Nations in Vienna, Austria, both with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization and the Office for Disarmament Affairs. She also held a research and media internship with Al Jazeera English in New York. After completing her Fulbright assistantship, she plans a career in international public service.
“Receiving a Fulbright Scholarship is both an honor and a life-changing opportunity, and I look forward to spending the following academic year in Azerbaijan as a Fulbright ETA,” Kouchehbagh said. “I am eager to participate in the Fulbright program, as it prides itself on building mutual understanding and cultural interchange, and I know this opportunity will open many doors in the future.”
About the Fulbright Program: Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Seventy-seven University of Arkansas students have been U.S. Fulbright Scholars.
About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.
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