Santa Clara University

Office of Fellowships

SCU Grad Wins Fulbright

Catherine Kilbane '05
Catherine Kilbane '05

Catherine Kilbane, ’05, left in August on a Fulbright grant to monitor debt-for-nature transactions in Peru.  She is now living out her dream.  But that dream may never have reached fruition without the helpful prodding of some of her SCU professors—particularly Leslie Gray, Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies and Political Science, and Jane L. Curry, Professor of Political Science.

Although for more than a decade Kilbane dreamed of working in conservation in Latin America, she never imagined applying for a distinguished award to make that goal a reality.  Despite her success in the University Honors Program and her mastery of material in her double major in Environmental Studies and Spanish Studies, she notes “I never even would have considered applying for a Fulbright had Dr. Gray not first brought it up and then pushed me to go for it.”  Curry’s help in crafting the application was also invaluable, she says.

The prestigious Fulbright Program for U. S. students awards about 1,200 grants annually (from a pool of more than 5,600 applications this year) to enable recipients to undertake research projects, advanced study, or teaching opportunities for an academic year in more than 140 countries.  Established in 1946 and administered by the U. S. Department of State, the Fulbright Program aims to foster international goodwill through cross-cultural interaction and education.

Kilbane’s is one of just ten grants awarded for study in Peru this year.  The debt-for-nature swap program, on which she will focus, has become an increasingly popular conservation tool.  A creditor country (such as the U. S.) reduces the debt of a country (such as Peru) in exchange for the debtor country’s commitment to funding tropical forest conservation programs within its own borders.  Ideally, it’s a win-win situation, Kilbane explains, but very little documentation exists on how effective the swaps are in attaining conservation goals.

Excerpted from the June 1st issue of FYI, SCU’s Faculty-Staff newsletter, with permission from the Office of Marketing and Communications, Santa Clara University.  For the rest of the article, please visit


Printer-friendly format