Beginning in August, seven students and alumni will travel abroad as the University of Delaware’s newest Fulbright award winners. Four of this year’s awardees grew up in the greater Wilmington area.
The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is the nation’s premier international education exchange program, designed to foster mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries. The prestigious award allows young graduates and graduate students the opportunity to conduct research, study or teach English in over 140 countries around the world.
Julianna Ly, who graduated from Wilmington Friends School in ’11 and earned Honors bachelor’s degrees in art history and art conservation at UD, is now a graduate student in the Winterthur/UD Program in Art Conservation.
She will call the Netherlands home for an 11-month internship jointly offered by the University of Amsterdam and the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis. Just one Fulbright/American Friends of the Mauritshuis Award is offered each year. “I’m really interested in Dutch Golden Age paintings, which is what the Mauritshuis is known for,” Ly said. “Being there is not only going to allow me to be surrounded by these paintings, but I’ll also be able to closely study and treat one myself. In conservation, we often refer to the three-legged stool of art history, hand skills and chemistry. I’ll be approaching this painting from all three of those perspectives.”
Ly will study alongside students in a graduate program at the University of Amsterdam. “I’m really excited to immerse myself in Dutch culture and, specifically, to collaborate with my international colleagues,” she said. “We have so much that we can learn from each other.”
Fresh from a two-year assignment with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, Natalie Medlock (Charter School of Wilmington ’11) will venture to Brazil for a year as an English Teaching Assistant at the university level.
Medlock said UD inspired and prepared her for post-graduate global experiences.
“UD offers two Portuguese courses for advanced Spanish speakers,” she said. “I took the first course simply because it fulfilled a requirement. Later, I fell in love with the language, took the second course and became really passionate about Brazil.”
Medlock also served as a peer mentor for the University’s Middle East Partnership Initiative Student Leaders Program and Study of the U.S. Institutes Women’s Leadership Program and participated in the English Language Institute’s American Host Partner Program. At UD, Natalie majored in international relations with minors in Spanish and Latin American and Iberian studies.
A member of the inaugural class of UD World Scholars, Megan Pacitti, who grew up in Newark, was awarded an English Teaching Assistantship to Brazil.
“I learned about Fulbright almost as soon as I arrived to campus and immediately knew I wanted to apply,” she said. No stranger to travel, Pacitti studied abroad in both Rome and Barcelona.
“I’ve taken courses in three different languages and have been exposed to different styles of teaching around the world,” Pacitti said. “I’ve gotten many ideas from these experiences that will help me develop my own teaching style.”
Pacitti graduated from Stroudsburg High School in Pennsylvania in ’15 and UD in June with majors in linguistics and Spanish studies and a minor in global studies.
Like Medlock and Pacitti, Christian Pirhalla (Charter School of Wilmington ’14) was also awarded an English Teaching Assistantship to Brazil. “Receiving my acceptance email was incredible,” Pirhalla said. “I’d spent about a year working on my application and it felt like all that time and dedication finally paid off.”
After graduating in December with a degree in Spanish studies, Pirhalla began working with Wilmington’s Latin American Community Center, an experience he said has been both rewarding and relevant.
“While my students will be different, I’m doing something very similar to what I will be doing on my Fulbright in Brazil,” he said. “Right now, I work mostly with adult migrants who want to learn the language so that they can communicate, get jobs and access public resources.”
Outside of the classroom, Pirhalla plans to seek a local community of fellow musicians in Brazil.