During the 2021-22 academic year, Michigan State University was named a top producer of Fulbright U.S. Scholars, making it the only research institution in the U.S. to achieve this status for the last eight years. During the 2020-21 year, MSU was one of 17 institutions to receive recognition as a top producer of both students and scholars.
This year, of the more than 9,300 applications submitted, nine MSU students and alumni have been awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants for the 2022-23 academic year, and four additional candidates have been named alternates.
This year, three Honors College alumni will continue to represent the university during a research grant or English teaching assistantship. The 2022-2023 Honors College Fulbright U.S. Student Program grantees are:
- Amelia Cole, May 2022, Indonesia – Research grant
- Emily McHarg, May 2020, Germany – English teaching assistantship
- Mariam Sayed, May 2022, Morocco – English teaching assistantship
Amelia Cole of Marquette, Michigan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife on the pre-veterinary medicine track and a minor in environmental sustainability studies.
Her Fulbright experience in West Java, Indonesia, allows her to further explore her passion for wildlife research and language learning.
“I’ll be studying the language over there, Bahasa Indonesia, intensively for three months in Yogyakarta before I start my research — so all in all, it will be three months of language learning then eight to nine months of research,” she said.
Cole will spend most of her time in Ujung Kulon National Park, researching how tick-borne diseases impact the last population of endangered Javan rhinoceros’. Only about 74 of these rhinos remain and are in this national park.
Tick-borne diseases are known to have caused deaths in black rhinos in Africa, but the risk they pose to Javan rhinoceros’ has not yet been studied.
“I’m just so excited, having this international experience and getting to meet and work with so many amazing collaborators will be huge,” she said. “I’ll get to work with some incredibly talented wildlife veterinarians — one from Indonesia and one from the United States who works at Cornell University — it’s a pretty niche field so to be able to have mentors like that is just such an incredible opportunity.”
Before graduating, Cole was on e-board for the MSU Fisheries and Wildlife Club, a member of the Wildlife Disease Association, and a member of the Sunrise Movement, an organization for climate justice on campus. She also spent a semester studying abroad in New Zealand where she learned about conservation medicine and participated in both lab and field work.
“I became really interested in conservation, veterinary medicine, and how the two overlap,” she said. “I’m also really interested in the general framework of One Health.”
One Health is an interdisciplinary framework that recognizes the intersections between human, animal, and environmental health.
She previously held positions as: field work intern at Isle Royale Moose and Wolf Study, veterinary assistant at Bayshore Veterinary Hospital, mist net intern at the Michigan State Bird Observatory, field technician at the MSU Applied Forest and Wildlife Ecology Laboratory, undergraduate research assistant for Professor Jean Tsao, Ph.D., and undergraduate learning assistant for Professor Jen Owens, Ph.D.
“I think the Honors college is really nice in the flexibility that it allows. You’re able to have different, not so locked in requirements, and that was part of the reason I was able to do my study abroad trip freshman year,” she said.
Emily McHarg graduated from the Honors College and James Madison College in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and minors in German and women’s studies.
Since graduating, McHarg has worked for the Michigan Legislature. Currently, she is a legislative aide for Rep. Matt Koleszar (20th District).
“Right now, I work in the Michigan House of Representatives, and I work for the minority vice chair of the election ethics committee. We’ve been seeing a lot of election and voting rights related bills in the last term and I’m really interested in that area of law,” she continued.
Shortly after graduating, McHarg received her TESOL Certificate for teaching English as a second language and began volunteering with the Refugee Development Center in Lansing. Here, she had the opportunity to tutor women in English one-on-one.
“After having that experience, I really wanted to pursue Fulbright and do this work abroad,” she said.
McHarg is scheduled to begin her Fulbright assistantship in September where she will work with high school students in a vocational school for 10 months.
“It’s a huge honor to be awarded the grant. Fulbright is such a unique and prestigious program and there are so many networking opportunities available,” she said. “Living abroad will give me such a special experience and perspective that I think I’ll be able to take with me to any future experience or career I pursue. I’m just so excited.”
Before graduating from Michigan State University, she had the opportunity to immerse herself in the world of government in many capacities. Mcharg participated in research with Professor Robert Braithwaite, Ph.D., who also advised her Senior Honors Thesis which examined the 2015 refugee crises and the effect of immigration on Germany’s politics.
McHarg also participated in not only MSU Model United Nations and the MSU International Relations Organization and held multiple jobs and internships in the field of government.
“I just grew more and more interested in state politics,” she said. “I think it’s something that a lot of people don’t spend enough time thinking about and realizing how much happens at the state level impacting us day-to-day.”
In the future, McHarg plans to attend law school.
After loving her first college chemistry course in 2018, Mariam Sayed knew she wanted to study physiology and combine that with her passions for women’s education and healthcare.
Four years later, she graduated with dual bachelors in physiology and French, a newfound passion for international medicine, and a Fulbright grant for an English teaching assistantship in Marrakech, Morocco.
In late-August, Sayed began her Fulbright experience where she will teach medical terminology at University Cadi Ayyad: Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy. She plans to start a club that focuses on women’s empowerment.
“I’m also hoping to independent research while im there — looking at how many women have access to menstrual products, how their menstrual cycle is affecting their ability to come to university, what kind of barriers there are for women to get an education in the area — so working at the university will be extremely helpful,” she said.
During her time with Fulbright and beyond, Sayed hopes to inspire international women to pursue a career and have financial independence.
“Being able to be financially independent plays such a huge role in women being able to have a choice,” she said. “And at the end of the day that’s what I’m looking for. Whether that woman wants to get married or not, have a profession or not, she should have the choice.”
“A lot of the populations I’ve worked with and [people] from my own experiences [as a Muslim American] have held this idea that you can either be a good woman or you can be a good professional — when really you can do both at the same time without having to compromise your identity,” she continued
During her time in undergraduate, Sayed was president of the MSU French Club, an undergraduate learning assistant for General/Inorganic Chemistry, a resident assistant at University Apartments, and a French instructor for pre-teenagers and teenagers at the MSU Center for Language Teaching Advancement.
She also spent time as a research assistant for two professors, and founded the MSU CLUED club — a club that began amid the pandemic and aimed to help first and second-year students get more out of their virtual chemistry course experience.
Sayed was also an Honors College Wielenga Research Scholar, a Dean’s Research Scholar for the College of Natural Science, and one of the 2022 student commencement speakers for the Honors College Graduation ceremonies.
“The Honors College also gave me the option to start taking graduate courses in French when I was a junior and senior, and that changed my whole perspective on everything I’d learned. It also played a huge role in what I’m doing today,” she said.