Five Broncos Win Fulbrights
SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 29, 2022— Five Broncos have earned scholarships through the national Fulbright U.S. Student program to study or teach in Italy, India, Ghana, Colombia, and Mexico.
Seniors Maggie Menendez and Cate Ralph, as well as recent grads Michele Canny ’19, David Diebold ’20, and Chris Wanis ’21 won Fulbright awards. Anjali Rangaswami ’21 was also named a finalist in this year's competition, but was recently able to begin her 2021 Fulbright instead, which was delayed due to COVID-19.
Three other Broncos, Natalie Henriquez ’22, Parwana Khazi ’20, and Kendall Moore ’22, were selected as Fulbright alternates, and they will teach or study in Chile, Turkey, or Netherlands, respectively, if other awardees are unable to participate.
“Santa Clara is tremendously proud of our Fulbright award winners,” said Santa Clara Acting Provost Ed Ryan. “Each engaged fully in their Santa Clara University education, gaining valuable experience in research, travel, and ways to put their talents to work to solve pressing world problems.”
Santa Clara University has produced 55 U.S. Student Fulbright finalists since the program’s inception over 50 years ago. The Fulbright awards cap off a successful 2021-22 academic year of notable awards for SCU students or alumni, during which:
- Students Rob Cady ’23, a physics and math double major, and Michael Nguyen ’24, neuroscience and music double major, were awarded Goldwater Scholarships for outstanding undergraduate students majoring in the natural sciences, engineering, or mathematics who intend to pursue research careers in these fields.
- Alumna Haley Howard ’21 received a prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which supports students in their pursuit of postgraduate degrees at the University of Cambridge.
- Betty Hou '22, a computer science and engineering major, was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, for demonstrated potential for significant research achievements in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) or in STEM education.
Meet the 2021-2022 Fulbrights
Michele Canny ’19 will conduct research in Italy, mapping out and cataloging nonprofits and community-based organizations that assist migrant women in Sicily. Canny grew up in the East Bay, with family originally from El Salvador as well as the U.S. She currently serves as the communications associate for Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP). Landing an internship at a justice-based Santa Clara Law program while an undergraduate has “changed the course of my post-graduate pursuits,” she said.
“I attended public schools in lower-income communities all of my life, so SCU felt like a breakthrough in helping me reach my educational and career goals,” she said.
A double major in sociology and Italian studies, Canny said her father is part Italian, and so she took the opportunity to study abroad in Italy in her junior year. She later received a REAL grant from SCU's College of Arts and Sciences, which enabled her to intern during the summer of 2018 in Brindisi, Italy, at a migration reception center where she shadowed an immigration attorney.
These two experiences “affirmed my passion for this work, and I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to once again return to it,” she said. After completion of her Fulbright program, Canny plans to attend law school and become an immigration or human rights attorney.
David Diebold ’20 will be conducting research in Ghana where he will assist a local nonprofit in optimizing the local emergency medical response system by introducing offline GPS ambulance routing and medical drone integration. “The end goal is to scale the system implemented in Ghana across the continent and optimize and increase access to emergency medical response across Africa,” he said.
Diebold was raised on the island of Oahu, Hawai'i, by two Army physicians who emphasized three key values: hard work, kindness, and service to all human beings.
“I was interested in medicine but also loved technology, so I came to SCU to explore both with SCU's pre-med bioengineering major,” he said. His Fulbright project emerged as part of the SCU Global Fellows program, when Diebold traveled to Kumasi, Ghana, with two classmates to work at Bright Generation Community Foundation. “I worked half time trying to produce a locally sourced Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Food formula to treat local infant malnutrition and the other half at a hospital in their ER,” said Diebold.
As an SCU student, Diebold received the Provost Research Award and has also been involved in immersion programs and the Engineers Without Borders program.
Since graduating from SCU, Diebold worked for 18 months at UCSF Neurosurgery doing procedural development and immunotherapeutics research. He is now a clinical development engineer for Intuitive Surgical, where he contributes to the design of new da Vinci surgical robotics platforms.
Maggie Menendez ’22 will be teaching English to university-level students in Colombia as well as conducting an additional research project. As a native Spanish speaker, she was especially interested in Colombia because of the incredible variety of art traditions that exist there, she said. "My calling is to make arts more accessible to immigrants in the United States,” she wrote in her application. “Because art is a form of expression that transcends verbal language, it has potential to foster genuine cross-cultural exchange.”
A Johnson Scholar and University Honors Student from Avon, Conn., Menendez said she is especially grateful that SCU offered her the opportunity to create her own major. “I got to hand-pick my curriculum, so every class I took after declaring that major felt personal and important,” she said. While at SCU, Menendez has also received a Hayes Fellowship, a Miller Center Fellowship, and she volunteers with the Activities Programming Board.
After her Fulbright year, Menendez will be attending NYU to earn her masters degree in art, education, and community practice. “I hope to create a social enterprise that supports working adult immigrant artists and young aspiring immigrant and children-of-immigrant artists,” said Menendez.
Cate Ralph ’22, a double major in economics and political science, will be conducting research on the impact social enterprises have on gender perceptions in India.
Ralph serves as president of SCU Into the Wild, which provides students with safe and accessible outdoor experiences. She is also the recipient of a 2021 Miller Center Fellowship, during which she consulted with Oorja Development Solutions (Oorja)––a social enterprise that finances and installs solar mini-grids in rural communities in Uttar Pradesh. Her work with Oorja focused on finding strategies to improve the company’s gender responsiveness to its customers and employees to help unlock greater interest from impact investors.
“I am fascinated by how social enterprises can be used to incite environmental and social change, both abroad and in the US,” said Ralph. “I hope to accelerate women’s empowerment to see a world where all women feel confident speaking up in male-dominated spaces, where women’s lives aren’t chosen for them, and where men are role models for gender equity.”
After her Fulbright in India, she plans to continue working with social enterprises that focus on sustainable development, and later go to graduate school to study economic development.
Chris Wanis '21 will be serving as an English Teaching Assistant in Mexico. Since 2020, he has been a fellow at the Policy Academies in Washington D.C., a nonprofit that aims to “train and cultivate a new and diverse generation of racial equity- and economic-justice-focused researchers and policy leaders from historically exploited communities.”
Wanis, who earned a double major in ethnic studies and political science, grew up in Baltimore as the child of two immigrants—his mother is from Mexico and his father is from Egypt. He chose SCU because the financial support enabled him to “achieve my dreams of getting a degree from a four-year institution and be able to help my family back at home.”
While at SCU, Wanis received several honors including a SCU Provost Research Fellowship, a REAL Program grant, a Jean Donovan Research Fellowship, and a 2020 Truman Scholarship nomination. Wanis also studied abroad in Argentina and Guyana, worked with the Resilient Families Program at Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose supporting immigrant communities, and was on the board of the Latinx Student Union.
He focused on Mexico for his Fulbright work because his mother and her family are Mexican and because he wanted to play a role in the critical sector of education. While in Mexico, he also hopes to make cross-cultural connections through sharing music, another passion of his.
Wanis said adding his second major, ethnic studies, proved “life changing” during his time at SCU. Through such study, “I was able to gain a deep understanding of the systems of oppression that impact my communities and communities of color across the US,” he said. “Ehnic studies also taught me how structures of racism, imperialism, and colonization are global and to combat oppression globally necessitates international solidarity with all oppressed peoples.”
After his fellowship, Wanis plans to pursue a masters in ethnic studies and conduct research to better understand the needs of migrant communities pre- and post-migration.
About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked among the top 15 percent of national universities by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see www.scu.edu.
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | email@example.com | 408-554-5121
2021-2022 Fulbright finalists (left to right): Maggie Menendez ’22, Michele Canny ’19, and Cate Ralph ’22. Not pictured: David Diebold ’20 and Chris Wanis ’21. Photo by Jim Gensheimer.