Fab Four: Meet the College’s 2016 Student Fulbright Winners

Four College of Charleston students have been awarded Fulbright grants in the 2016 Fulbright U.S. Student Program competition. Of the record 32 students who submitted applications through the College’s Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, 15 semifinalists made it through the National Screening Committee, and four were named alternates. This impressive showing was made possible by the considerable talents and efforts of these students, as well as the support they received from faculty and staff at the College of Charleston. As Trisha Folds-Bennett, dean of the Honors College, notes:

“The rising success of our students in the Fulbright competition is a sign that they are well prepared to play on a national, even international, stage. Preparation of students for the Fulbright application process requires a comprehensive mentoring process that begins as soon as they walk on our campus. Certainly, achievements in their field of study are a must to receive a Fulbright award. However, they must also provide evidence of engagement in an array of experiences and activities that demonstrate their leadership potential. The College of Charleston has invested a great deal in the programs and support systems that prepare students for success when they apply for prestigious awards like the Fulbright Student Grant.”

Below are the 2016 Fulbright recipients, all of whom graduated from the College of Charleston’s Honors College this year.


Patricia Cooney '16

Patricia Cooney ’16

Patricia Cooney ’16, a biology major with a neuroscience minor, will begin a year of independent research at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich, Germany.

Cooney, who was awarded the 2016 Bishop Robert Smith Award for campus leadership and scholarship at the College, will study learning and generalization with simultaneous in vivo brain imaging in zebrafish larvae while enrolling in a few graduate neuroscience courses.

An accomplished opera singer and community partner as well, Cooney plans to join the Munich International Choral Society and to help refugees in Germany through REFUGIO Munich.

Cooney was a William Aiken Fellow in the Honors College as well as a Swanson Scholar.


Eden Katz '16

Eden Katz ’16

Eden Katz ’16, a a double major in international studies and public health, will live in Kampala, Uganda, while continuing to research her bachelor’s essay on early and forced marriage in conflict zones.

“Early and forced marriage is exacerbated in conflict, and this was seen in Uganda’s civil war with the Lord’s Resistance Army that lasted from 1987-2006,” says Katz. “I will examine the role non-profits play in preventing early and forced marriage, and investigate how their methods changed over the course of the conflict … I’m ecstatic to finally be able to conduct field research on early and forced marriage –something I’ve been dreaming of since beginning this research almost two years ago.”

Katz was a William Aiken Fellow and member of the International Scholars Program at the College.


Matthew-Ross-FulbrightMatthew Ross ’16, a history major, will attend the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, and enroll in their Master of Arts program in medieval and Scandinavian studies.

Beyond expanding his medieval knowledge, Ross says he plans to “improve my language skills, adding German or Old Norse to my repertoire of French and Latin.”

Also on Ross’s list: playing rugby with a university team and volunteering at Weoley Castle –  a 750-year old fortified manor house in Birmingham. Ross plans to ultimately pursue a Ph.D. in medieval history.


Rachel Taylor '16

Rachel Taylor ’16

Rachel Taylor ’16, an international studies and political science major with a minor in Spanish, will live and study in Mexico through the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Program. She plans to mentor local youth.

“I think this award will open numerous opportunities for me,” says Taylor. “I have taught in smaller capacities and loved it, but this will give me the chance to see if education is something I really want to pursue, or whether following social justice work and law will still be my strongest passion.”


Colton Naval ’15

Previously, during the 2014-2015 academic year, two College of Charleston students were selected as Fulbright winners.

They include Alannah Aldstadt ’15, who is serving as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Germany, and Colton Naval ’15, who is studying for a master’s degree in environment and international development at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom through the US-UK Postgraduate Fulbright Award.

Naval was kind enough to answer a few questions from The College Today about his Fulbright experience:

What has been the major highlight of your time abroad?

Because my course is international in nature, many of my fellow coursemates are from all over the world. The highlight of my year has been making friends with an extremely diverse group of international students, including those from the UK. There are so many different perspectives, backgrounds, and life stories that I have not previously been exposed to in my studies back in the States – at least not to the same extent that I have been exposed to here. I have really appreciated my time getting to know my peers and definitely value the friendships I have formed while here.

How has your time abroad helped shape your future plans? 

It has definitely made me more aware about the opportunities and challenges of forging a career in international development, especially as it relates to environmental resources and issues. If anything, this has solidified my interest in an environment-development career path, though it has also revealed that I need more practical work experience before I continue with academia: this master’s (program) has revealed a stark contrast between the academic world of development and the on-the-ground realities of development practice. In this sense, I would like to spend some time actually working on prevalent development issues, especially as they relate to climate change impacts.

What has the Fulbright experience, in general, meant to you? 

Fulbright means taking chances and not being afraid to meet challenges head on, whether it be academics or in your daily life. Fulbright is not just about the scholarship, but about the cross-cultural connections one forms when immersed in a different culture – I’ve learned so much about myself and the world around me both in and out of the classroom. I will always value this opportunity to have grown as a scholar, a global citizen and as a person.

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