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Three Santa Clara University Seniors Win Fulbright Scholarships

Wednesday, May. 19, 2010

Students are heading to Germany, Indonesia, and Poland to Study or Teach English

SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 19, 2010—Three Santa Clara University seniors have been awarded Fulbright scholarships to study or teach abroad in the 2010–2011 academic year.

The SCU student winners include Megan Williams, who will go to Warsaw, Poland, to study Polish and research student political attitudes; John “Jack” Mahoney, who will go to Indonesia to teach English at one of that republic’s pesantren; and Jennifer Mock, who will go to Bavaria, Germany, to teach English.

“I extend my warmest congratulations to SCU’s outstanding Fulbright winners,” said University President Michael Engh, S.J.  “Their accomplishments and intellectual curiosity exemplify the best of Santa Clara University and its mission to educate students in service to the world.”

The full list of 1,500 U.S. winners was announced recently by the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. 

“We are so proud of our Fulbright students, each of whom is well-versed in the countries they’ll be visiting, and will be wonderful student ambassadors, ” said William Greenwalt, director of the University’s Office of Fellowships.

Megan Williams, a political science major, will study at the Centre for East European Studies in Warsaw, Poland. 

In addition to learning Polish, she will also conduct a research project on student or youth political groups—probably studying the plethora of far-right Polish student groups and why they’ve proliferated. She’ll also be travelling extensively in the region, which she says is a huge passion.

A longtime fan of politics, Williams said her interest was piqued on this part of the world when she visited the Solidarity Museum in Gdansk a few years ago. “I was intrigued by this underground movement that was so successful,” she said.

At SCU, Williams is in the University Honors Program, is a peer advisor to other political science majors, and serves as community facilitator at Dunne residence hall. In high school, as a service project, she worked in a Peruvian orphanage for a month.

A native of Hatfield, Mass., Williams is graduating magna cum laude and is in Phi Beta Kappa. She says she will probably enter law school to study international law after the Fulbright is over.

The Centre for East European Studies, founded in 1982, brings together area studies specialists from all over the former Soviet Union and Soviet Bloc. SCU professor Jane Curry, one of Williams’ mentors who taught Williams in her Post-Communism class, was the inaugural Fulbright-University of Warsaw Distinguished Chair in East European Studies at the Centre. Curry said it was founded by dissidents who were jailed for publishing a journal during martial law, and who dreamed of a center where people from all over the Communist world—even those who despise one another politically—could join to learn more about one another.

Professor Curry said she’s thrilled that Williams is headed to the Centre. “Megan is the kind of student who shows a lot of initiative, and she’s going to an amazing place,” Curry said. As the Centre’s first American student, Williams “will have a picture of that world that few people can have.”

John “Jack” Mahoney will be going to Indonesia to teach English at one of that country’s hundreds of pesantren, or boarding schools, after having written a thoughtful thesis paper about Islam’s role in democratization of that republic.

A native of Wayland, Mass., Mahoney is a political science and religious studies double-degree candidate, with a minor in Arabic, Islamic, and Middle Eastern studies.

Mahoney says he has always been interested in how much there is to learn about religion, having been raised in a Christian household and grown up in a predominantly Jewish community. At SCU, he took a “broad spectrum” of religion classes, including Buddhist Spirituality, Religious Identity in America, and Professor James Bennett’s Religion and the American Presidency. He said he became fascinated with Islam after taking a class with Professor David Pinault.

SCU Political Science Professor Eric Hanson called Mahoney a top student who is “very intelligent, without being too theoretical” with “a deep understanding of religion and politics, including a fine awareness of the complementary perspectives contributing to such analysis." 

“He could serve anywhere, from a research institute to elected office,”   added Hanson.

Mahoney said he became interested in politics and policy in 1994, when he was 7, and his mom volunteered for a political campaign. After briefly considering someday seeking elected office himself, he says he’ll probably pursue life as a government or legislative analyst, working on behalf of governments to shape policy.

At SCU, Mahoney spent a summer studying in three cities: Sao Paolo, Brazil, Capetown, South Africa, and Hanoi, Vietnam, through an international honors program. He is co-president of Santa Clara’s College Democrats club, is co-head of the Model United Nations, a volunteer with adults with mental challenges through Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP), and a student ambassador on campus. He worked for one quarter on the Obama campaign in Concord, N.H.

In Indonesia, Mahoney will teach English and conduct research attempting to understand how Muslim youth define their roles in our globalized society. He expects to be located in Java, outside of Jakarta.

Jennifer Mock, a double major in German and political science with minors in international studies and history, will be teaching English to middle- or high-school students in Burghausen, Germany, next school year.

Mock took advantage of SCU’s study abroad program during her junior year, going to Freiberg, Germany, for a month-long intensive language program, in which she was the only American in a group that spoke German as their common language. That fall, she took part in another study abroad program in Freiberg, with the Institute for the International Education of Students, studying the structures of the EU, including its foreign and economic policy, history, integration, and current status. She also had the chance to travel around Eastern and Western Europe.

At SCU, Mock is in the German Honors program and was president of the German Club. She is a history peer-educator, and works as a tutor in the writing center. She is also an assistant teacher in the South Bay German School, teaching German to American preschoolers on Saturdays. 

In Germany, she’ll be an assistant teacher of English to middle school or high school students, and hopes to become involved in the broader community once she settles in. “I’m particularly excited to be immersed in the German culture there, ” she says.

Diana Morlang, a lecturer in political science and Mock’s senior thesis adviser, describes her as smart as well as respectful and curious about the commonalities and differences among German and American cultures. “She has a fabulous kind of comparative perspective to offer,” Morlang said.

A native of Beaverton, Ore., Mock said she became interested in German through an aunt who used to regale her with stories of life in Austria. “This teaching assistantship is a good culmination of my interests,” she said.

About the Fulbright Program
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. 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.

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 300,000 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.

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please visit http://fulbright.state.gov .

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,600 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see www.scu.edu.

Media Contact:

Deborah Lohse |  SCU Asst. Media Relations Director | dlohse@scu.edu  |  408-554-5121

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