Four Trinity Graduates Awarded Fulbrights for Research, Teaching

Destinations include Chile, Colombia, Germany and Panama

From top to bottom: Sophia Becker '09, Jessica Cote '12, and Eliot Fearey '10.

HARTFORD, CT, May 29, 2012 – Five Trinity students were named Fulbright finalists for the coming year, with four of the five having been awarded the prestigious grant from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the flagship international education program sponsored by the U.S. government. 

Jessica Cote, who is headed for Chile, is a member of the Class of 2012. Colombia-bound Sophia Becker and Eliot Fearey, who will be going to Germany, graduated in 2009 and 2010, respectively. The fourth grant recipient, who prefers to remain anonymous, is a member of the class that graduated May 20. Becker, of Huntington Beach, CA, and Fearey, of Greenwich, CT, were awarded teaching assistantships, while Cote, of Ipswich, MA, will be conducting research.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

In addition to the four, Claire Hellwig ’12, of Wilmette, IL was a finalist for a teaching assistantship for Luxembourg. She will have an opportunity to reapply.

Cote, who majored in neuroscience and is fluent in Spanish, will be working at the University of Bio-Bio in a region of Chile where they grow a berry called maqui that is made into juice. The maqui berry juice has been used for hundreds of years to relieve pain and inflammation. Cote, who will begin her work in Chile in March, will explore the benefits of the juice and also look into its potential use in combatting neurodegenerative disease.

In addition to her research, Cote will attend biochemistry classes and look to improve cross-cultural ties. “This will allow me to combine my three major passions – neurobiology, South America and community involvement,” she said. “I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to spend 10 months of my life.”

For Cote, who would eventually like to do research or teach, this is not her first trip to South America. She spent the fall 2010 semester at Trinity’s global learning site in Buenos Aires.

Fearey has also studied abroad, having spent the fall semester of her junior year at Humboldt Universitat in Berlin. Having majored in art history and German studies, Fearey will be headed to Bavaria in September, where she will teach English.

Fearey has worked at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle for the past two years, doing curatorial research in connection with the museum’s collection of Munich Secession paintings. “Living in Germany next year will allow me to the opportunity to visit museum and archive collections that I’ve been interested in visiting for the last few years,” she said. “Also, in terms of contemporary art in Germany, I’m really excited about having the opportunity to go to Documenta and the Berlin Film Festival.”

Although Fearey graduated two years ago, she first got the idea to apply for a Fulbright during her first year at Trinity, inspired by Alden Gordon, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts. “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time and I’m really glad that I’m going to have the opportunity to do it now,” she said.

Upon her return from Germany, Fearey said she would ideally like to enroll in a Ph.D. program and study art from the Kaiserreich period.

A teacher at Century High School in Santa Ana, CA and before that at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa, CA, Becker will find herself in a dramatically different location. She will be living and working in Barrancas, a remote area in northern Colombia. She graduated from Trinity with a B.A. in international studies with a focus on Russian and Latin American studies.

In southern California, Becker has been a Bilingual Instructional Assistant and an Instructional Assistant for students with special needs in schools that serve a predominantly immigrant, low-income population.

Becker will be based in Barrancas, which has 35 recognized archaeological sites, rather than a larger city because of her desire to conduct research on an indigenous group in Colombia. The Guajira Peninsula, where Barrancas is located, is home to one of Colombia’s best-preserved indigenous groups, the Wayuu, one of 90 such groups in the country. 

“Given that I have an interest in indigenous culture and anthropology, this is an incredibly rich and promising assignment,” said Becker. “So, in addition to my work teaching English, I plan to collaborate with local anthropologists who focus on the Wayuu people.”

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 by Congress to “enable the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is administered by the Institute of International Education.

The Fulbright Program receives its primary source of funding through an annual appropriation from Congress to the Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions in foreign countries, and in the United States, also contribute financially through cost-sharing and indirect support, e.g., through salary supplements, tuition waivers, and university housing.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 310,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. 

More details about the Fulbright Program can be obtained by visiting the Web site: