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View of Mission with Fountain in foreground

View of Mission with Fountain in foreground

Five Santa Clara Alumni and Students Win Fulbright and Udall Scholarships

The strong showing puts SCU on track for its fifth award as a “Top Producer” school for Fulbright Scholarships.

The strong showing puts SCU on track for its fifth award as a “Top Producer” school for Fulbright Scholarships.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 13, 2018—Santa Clara University is proud to announce that four Broncos have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships, and one junior has won a prized Udall Undergraduate Scholarship. 

The strong showing in Fulbright awards means Santa Clara is on track to once again be named a “top producing” school for Fulbright scholars—a feat achieved by fewer than 5 percent of similar universities nationwide. It would be Santa Clara’s fifth such designation in the past six years. The Udall award represents Santa Clara’s third-ever such honor.

One graduating senior, Shawna Richardson ’18, and three Santa Clara University alumni—Lauren Cloward ’16, Erika Francks ’17, and Carson Whisler ’17—have each been offered Fulbright Scholarship grants to study or teach abroad during the next academic year. In addition, junior James Wang ’19 was chosen for a highly selective Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, which honors college sophomores and juniors who exhibit leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to American Indian nations or to the environment.

In addition, four other Santa Clara alumni or students are in the running for Fulbright Scholarships, with announcements expected soon.

“Santa Clara University is extremely proud of our outstanding Udall and Fulbright winners,” said University President Michael Engh, S.J. “The common thread in their hard-earned accomplishments is a desire to make the world a better, more sustainable place for all. We thank the faculty and mentors for helping to guide these students to become tremendous exemplars of SCU’s Jesuit ideals.”

Another student, junior Efren Oxlaj Tambito ’19, was awarded an honorable mention from the Udall Scholarship committee, also a high honor. Born in Guatemala, Oxlaj Tambito is one of Santa Clara’s first-generation-college LEAD Scholars.

Fulbright Scholarships

The Fulbright Scholarship winners will travel to Lesotho, Taiwan, Burkina Faso, and Indonesia for projects ranging from teaching English to conducting research on solar microgrids or solar technologies, to investigating community-based climate adaptations.

“Santa Clara University is bursting with pride at the number of students emerging as finalists and winners of Fulbright, Udall, and other scholarships,” said Leilani Miller, director of the University Honors Program and Office of Student Fellowships. “These awards are extremely competitive, and are a tribute to the students’ academic and emotional intelligence and their willingness to engage in activities that create meaningful change in the world.”

The SCU Fulbright Scholarship winners for the 2018-2019 academic year thus far are

Headshot of Lauren Cloward

Lauren Cloward ’16, was an environmental studies and political science double major and a Rhodes Scholarship finalist. She will travel to Burkina Faso to do research in two communities on how access to water, different coping strategies, and local institutions affect agricultural decisions, food and water security, and vulnerability.

Cloward has an avid interest in food sustainability and justice. After traveling to Cuba with the Food and Agribusiness Institute (FAI) to study sustainable agriculture in 2015, she coordinated FAI events prompting discussion about the food industry, including “The Ethics of Coffee and Chocolate” and “To Meat or Not To Meat?” In 2016, she was also part of FAI’s research team that studied food waste on farms with the goal of redistributing fresh produce left in the fields to food banks.

At SCU, she was the founder and president of the Oxfam America Club on campus for three years. She was a Global Fellow and interned with the Association for Social and Environmental Development in Kolkata, India the summer before her senior year. During her senior year, she worked with ESS Associate Professor Chris Bacon to develop new methods for measuring food and water security among rural smallholder farmers, and went to Nicaragua with him and two other students after graduation to conduct further fieldwork. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Honor Society, and was awarded Environmental Studies and Sciences’ (ESS) Academic Achievement Award, given to the graduating senior with the highest GPA.

“I feel so lucky to have found a second home in Santa Clara, where those who have helped me define my path and whom I admire have also been my biggest advocates, and where I’ve learned the importance of tenacity in the face of our generation’s most pressing problems,” said Cloward.

Headshot of Erika Francks

Erika Francks ’17, who majored in environmental studies and hails from Olympia, Washington, was valedictorian of her graduating class. She will travel to Lesotho on her Fulbright Scholarship, to work with OnePower, Lesotho’s first independent power producer, and the National University of Lesotho to develop a pilot program to test the viability of offering business training and infrastructure to rural solar microgrid customers.

As both a Global Fellow with the Leavey School of Business and a Global Social Benefit Fellow with Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, she worked on projects to bring electricity and environmental education to off-grid communities in India. She was an intern with the Ignatian Center’s Thriving Neighbors Initiative, where she organized a number of events in support of the local Washington neighborhood, including teaching a yoga class for largely Spanish-speaking mothers.

She was awarded the Academic Achievement Award from ESS; was active in the SCU Honors Program for four years; and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Sigma Nu since 2017. She participated in SCU Women in Business, The Freedom Project (Students Against Human Trafficking), and Vagina Monologues during her time on campus.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to pursue the research that I am passionate about for nine months, and to represent the United States in Lesotho as a Fulbright scholar,” said Francks. “Santa Clara provided me with opportunities as an undergraduate to conduct action research as a Global Social Benefit Fellow and to study pressing global issues, which inspired me to continue seeking out opportunities to address the issue of energy poverty post-graduation.”

Headshot of Shawna Richardson

Shawna Richardson ’18, a liberal studies major, will participate in the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program in Taiwan. She wants to give a voice to young children, while developing her teaching style in a different culture. Her liberal studies degree, experience teaching ESL in India and Italy, and participation in a community-based program will allow her to enrich the classroom experience for Taiwanese children learning English. She also chose Taiwan to further understand their human rights movement and bring that perspective to the dialogue of social justice in the U.S.

During her time at SCU, she has been active in the Global Fellows Program, Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassadors, SCCAP, Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education, and the Alpha Sigma Nu honor society of Jesuit universities.

“I am incredibly excited to spend an entire school year immersing myself into a new culture and in a classroom,” said Richardson. “My time at Santa Clara University has given me the tools necessary to be successful in my future career as a teacher, and has pushed me to step outside my comfort zone in order to be a woman for, and with, others in all aspects of my life.”

Headshot of alumnus Carson Whisler

Carson Whisler ’17, from Astoria, Oregon, was an economics major at SCU. Currently, he is serving as a Data for Impact Fellow at SocialCops in India, helping organizations from NGOs to the UN use data to drive development. He will be traveling on his Fulbright Scholarship to Indonesia, where he will conduct research on “pay as you go” solar technologies in the developing world.

At SCU, he participated in the Alpha Sigma Nu, Phi Beta Kappa, and Pi Alpha Theta honor societies as well as the University Honors Program. He was active in SCU’s Conscientious Capitalism course; the Global Social Benefit Fellowship; Global Fellows Program; Alpha Kappa Psi; Ruff Riders; and Civil Society Institute. He also worked as an orientation leader with New Student Programs and as an impact investing analyst at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

“I feel beyond excited and blessed to have the opportunity to serve as a Fulbright scholar and research issues at the intersection of financial inclusion, climate resilience, and energy poverty,” said Whisler. “My work at SCU as a Global Fellow, Global Social Benefit Fellow, and impact investing analyst at Miller Center contributed greatly to my understanding of my own passions, along with what it means to engage with important issues as a global citizen. I look forward to continuing to live and learn the values of conscience, competence, and compassion in my work with Sanata Dharma University in Indonesia.”

Udall Undergraduate Scholarships

Headshot of James Wang

James Wang ’19, from Foster City, Calif., who is majoring in environmental science and electrical engineering, is one of 50 students nationwide honored with a Udall scholarship. He has conducted research with the Latimer Energy Lab, and currently is researching the effects of high-density traffic areas on residential health as part of the inaugural class of SCU Mapping Health Scholars.

He is the current chair for the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE), an intern at the Center for Sustainability, and was previously an intern at Burns & McDonnell, an engineering, architecture, construction, environmental, and consulting solutions firm. He is a tour guide for the School of Engineering; a dorm counselor for the Summer Engineering Seminar; co-leader for the Solar Regatta project; a member of the University Honors Program; and a member of campus clubs EnAct and Green Club. 

He plans to obtain a master’s degree in electrical engineering, where he will specialize in power systems, renewable energy, and microgrids. Eventually, he wants to restructure America’s crumbling and antiquated grid, and design and implement efficient and effective power systems that incorporate sustainable fuel sources for people in developing countries. To kickstart this goal, through the Global Social Benefit Fellowship with Miller Center, he will conduct action research in Zambia this summer with Vitalite, a social enterprise that distributes solar-powered products to the poor.

“I am incredibly honored to become a Udall scholar,” said Wang. “I have always had a passion for the environment and wanted to take action to combat climate change, and improve the world using my technical skills as an engineer. I look forward to meeting more like-minded individuals and to have the opportunity to create a sustainable impact on the world.”

Udall Scholarships pay for up to $7,000 for study, as well as a four-day networking summer orientation in Tucson, Arizona, where scholars work on environmental case studies with alumni of the program. The Udall Alumni Association consists of more than 2,000 scholars.

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. For further information please visit

About Udall Undergraduate Scholarship

The Udall Foundation awards 50 scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to American Indian nations or to the environment. The Udall scholarship honors the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall, Arizona politicians and brothers whose careers had a significant impact on American Indian self-governance, health care, and the stewardship of public lands and natural resources. More information is at

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 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry, and theology; 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

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