News and Events
The Seven Scholars: Meet Pepperdine's Recently Recognized Fulbright Scholars
Every year, a committee of faculty advisors and a team of administrative staff assist a new crop of Fulbright hopefuls, sending off their applications and wishing for the best. This year, 18 students applied, nine became finalists, and, producing a new record for Pepperdine University, seven recent graduates have joined the elite rank of Fulbright Scholars - one of the most prestigious scholarly awards worldwide.
Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the program's purpose is to build mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the rest of the world. As Fulbright himself put it, "The Fulbright Commission aims to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship."
This year's awardees will be using their Fulbright awards to travel all over the globe—from Korea to Argentina—to embark on a diverse array of experiences ranging from microfinance review to molecular biology. Meet the Pepperdine Fulbright Scholars below to find out how they will bring a little more knowledge, reason and compassion into world affairs next year and beyond...
Keith Cantú, Bangladesh
Keith Cantú ('10), who graduated in May with a bachelor's in international studies and a minor in French, is the quintessential piano instructing, web designing, French tutoring, short film producing, world traveling Renaissance man. Having already founded a joint-university fundraiser, Moksha, for an anti-trafficking NGO based in India in 2009, he will travel to Bangladesh as a Fulbright Scholar, where he will serve as a teaching assistant. Cantú, who sat on the editorial staff of the Pepperdine student newspaper, The Graphic, will also establish an English-language journalism club for his students; their opinions on community issues will be published online in blog form. In addition to his Fulbright Scholarship, Cantú has been awarded the Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship, which will provide extensive funding for graduate school following his year in India as well as a three-year contract to be a diplomat for the U.S. Department of State upon graduation; he plans to specialize in the region of South Asia and human rights.
What are you most looking forward to about your year in Bangladesh?
I am looking forward to returning to South Asia, reconnecting with old friends, and drinking my daily morning chai (there’s a local chai wallah on every corner!). Also, Bengali culture is known for its relaxed intellectualism—think French café culture—which I totally dig.
Devin Dvorak, Argentina
"As the actress Bette Davis once said, 'The key to life is accepting challenges. Once someone stops doing this, he's dead,'" says Devin Dvorak ('10, magna cum laude), who has tasked himself with the challenge of examining the structure of microfinance in Latin American culture. Having co-led a Pepperdine Project Serve team in Ecuador in 2009, where he witnessed the positive impact that microfinance had on an impoverished community, he decided to study the functionality and sustainability of Argentine microfinance operations in order to determine how the social enterprise should be adapted to different, distinct cultures. Dvorak's work in Argentina, which will begin in February 2011, follows four years of service to others at Pepperdine in which he served breakfast at a homeless shelter on Skid Row, mentored 50 freshman students as a residential advisor, participated in Pepperdine's annual day of service, Step Forward Day, and traveled to both Ecuador and New York with Project Serve.
What do you hope to achieve in Argentina?
First and foremost, I hope to develop and foster relationships with as many locals as possible, to be a good diplomat to the United States, and to transcend the stereotypes portrayed in the media. Upon my return, I hope to continue my studies and share my data with the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba and other Argentine organizations seeking to bring aid to impoverished communities.
Colby Long, Macedonia
Colby Long, who graduated in May 2009 with a bachelor's degree in English Literature, will travel to Macedonia to conduct an international classroom-to-classroom poetry exchange between Macedonian and US students. He has partnered with an English high school teacher and a college professor in US to participate, via the Internet, in the exchange of ideas, which will improve the conversational English of the students in Macedonia and help them to learn more about American culture. Long graduated magna cum laude and made the Academic Dean's List in every year he was a Pepperdine student.
Elizabeth Lyons, Korea
As an English Teaching Assistant in the classrooms of South Korea, political science major Elizabeth Lyons ('10), will initiate a recipe exchange program between her Korean students and American high school students. Her students will practice their English, as all recipes will be translated, and learn about American culture while sharing their own culture through their recipes; the project will culminate with a cookbook of shared recipes. Among her many scholarly, athletic, and philanthropic accomplishments at Pepperdine, including a position on the Dean's List in 2009 and the NCAA Above and Beyond Award for athletics, academics, and community service in 2007, Lyons has a history of culinary excellence. As a member of 4-H, she participated in 10 years of cooking competitions and received multiple Best of Class and Best of Show awards, and in 2009 she prepared and distributed meals to families of children in a Buenos Aires hospital.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to be a human rights lawyer, and have been accepted and plan to attend Wake Forest Law School in the fall of 2011.
Stephanie Meza, Spain
Having earned a bachelor's degree in English Literature with a minor in Spanish, Stephanie Meza ('10) will journey to Spain to pursue her passion for teaching as a Fulbright Scholar. In Spain, she will share her own experiences of biculturalism, which she was able to channel into her experiences at Pepperdine as a member of the Pepperdine Latino Student Association from 2006. She also served her bicultural passion in Argentina in 2008, where she participated in community service programs in Buenos Aires, focusing on language enrichment and cultural engagement, and interned with the Consulate General of Argentina for three months.
Samantha Morrow, Korea
Samantha Morrow ('10, magna cum laude) was already earning her teaching credential when she began working with a teenage English Language Learner who had emigrated from Korea. Morrow discovered, to her surprise, just how curious she was to learn more about the Korean education system and culture. She joined the Korean Student Association in Fall 2009, and as a new Fulbright Scholar in Korea she will lead a letter-writing club for her students and maintain a blog for Korean and American students to communicate and learn. The plan follows smoothly from her experiences as a student at Pepperdine, including a stint on the peer review board for Pepperdine's International Studies online academic journal, Global Tides, and membership in Sigma Tau Delta (the International English Honor Society), and Kappa Delta Pi (the International Honor Society in Education). Morrow earned her teaching credential as part of the PepSTEP undergraduate professional training program in conjunction with her bachelor's degree in English; upon her return to America, she plans to channel her experience in Korea into an immediate career as a secondary school teacher.
Why did you pick Korea?
Korean-speaking students comprise one of the largest groups of non-native English speaking student groups in California. When I worked to improve the literary skills of the Korean student, she told me her story, including her education experiences in Korea and how they differed from her schooling in the States. It truly galvanized me to do everything I could to maximize learning for students like her in my classroom; I want to be able to support them as they deal with cultural and social adjustments, too.
Lindsey Murphy, Australia
Following a distinguished career as a student of biology at Pepperdine, Lindsey Murphy ('10) will join the laboratory of Dr. Robert Parton in the Institute of Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland, to assist in the research of a family of proteins called cavins. The proteins regulate caveolae in the cell membrane of mammalian cells, which are linked to diseases such as cancer and muscular dystrophy when not functioning correctly. Murphy and Dr. Parton's research will include creating genetic mutations of the protein and analyzing them to isolate specific regions of the gene most essential for caveolae formation; she plans to publish their findings at the end of her tenure in Australia. Earlier this year, Murphy was named the most outstanding biology student in the Pepperdine Natural Science Division, and she has been a Dean's scholar in every one of her years at the university.
Sitting at the cutting-edge of biology research in Australia, what do you most want to achieve?
Mutations in cavins are relatively unexplored but their link to human disease is significant. At its core, science is collaborative and by combining my comprehension of cell and molecular biology with Dr. Parton’s knowledge of caveolae and cavin proteins, I hope to open doorways for understanding caveolae formation and their association with human disease. I am an aspiring MD/PhD and will be applying during my year in Australia; this project will be particularly beneficial for my development as a research scientist and would prepare me for graduate work in the increasingly significant field of molecular biology.