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2021–22 ARHU Fulbright Recipients

June 02, 2021 American Studies | School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures | History | Spanish and Portuguese | French

Fulbright recipients 21-22

Five ARHU students and alumni receive the prestigious grant.

By ARHU Staff

Each year the Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for undergraduate and graduate students as well as recent graduates to create their own research projects or teach English abroad. The prestigious program offers the opportunity for students to gain international experience, personal enrichment and cultural exchanges in more than 140 countries.

Five students and alumni from the University of Maryland College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) received 2021–22 Fulbright U.S. Student Grants for international research, studies and English teaching.

ARHU recipients: 

Hazim Abdullah-Smith, Jamaica

Ph.D. candidate in American studies

Abdullah-Smith’s research examines how gender and sexuality inform contemporary transformations in the tourism industry, activism and the arts. Focusing on Jamaica, they use queer and feminist theory to explain why colonialism, Black genders, sexuality and travel are powerfully entangled. Their research brings together Black Queer studies, Caribbean Studies, cultural geography and literary studies to work towards an understanding of Black, queer, diasporic belonging.

During their Fulbright, Abdullah-Smith will conduct both archival and ethnographic research to find out more about the development of the tourism industry and to analyze the role of sexual and gender difference in colonial and post-colonial contexts. Upon their return, Abdullah-Smith will finish writing and preparing for a dissertation defense, working towards a career in research and teaching. 

Gilma Chavez ’20, Argentina

B.A. in Spanish, Latin American studies certificate 

Born in El Salvador, Chavez left her country at age 15 due to violence and poverty. When she graduated last year, she became the first in her family to earn a degree in higher education. She credits her courses in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, with deepening her understanding of languages, literatures and cultures and broadening her knowledge about contemporary issues both in Latin America and in the United States. 

During her Fulbright, Chavez will teach English in Argentina. After the fellowship, she will apply to graduate school in hopes of becoming a professor of Spanish with a specialty in Central American studies. 

Julie Choi ’20, South Korea

B.A. in government and politics and history

Born in South Korea, Choi emigrated with her family to the United States when she was three years old. Growing up in a large Korean immigrant community in Ellicott City, Maryland, and attending school with mostly white non-immigrants, she was surrounded by the contrasts of two different cultures. At UMD, Choi found that studying international relations helped her make sense of these differences. After a year of government and politics coursework, she came to realize the importance of understanding history, and applying that knowledge to current events. Her honors history thesis examined the Korean independence movement in relation to the United States. Last year, she was awarded a Charles B. Rangel Summer Enrichment Program scholarship—one of 15 students selected from across the country.

During her Fulbright, Choi will teach English in South Korea. She hopes to learn more about cultural exchange and prepare for a career as a State Department Foreign Service Officer. 

Isabel Conforti ’21, Kosovo

B.A. in government and politics, anthropology and French, minor in international development and conflict management

Conforti has wanted to return to Kosovo since studying abroad there in the summer of 2019. After her experience in the Language House Program and in Nice, France, she looks forward to continuing her language learning experiences through immersing in Albanian. 

During her Fulbright, Conforti will teach English in Kosovo. Ultimately, she hopes to do work related to peace and conflict studies and conduct social science research to help improve international development policy and advance human rights.

Tiffany Melgar ’21, Honduras

B.A. criminology and criminal justice and Spanish, minor in general business

Born to native Spanish speakers but with English as her first language, Melgar studied Spanish at UMD to improve her speaking skills and feel closer to her culture. She completed a service learning trip to Honduras in 2019 with the organization Students Helping Honduras and fell in love with the country, its culture and people. A passionate teacher and mentor, she has worked with College Mentors with Kids and ESOL Owls, among other organizations.

She will teach English in Honduras. After her Fulbright, Melgar plans to attend law school to become an immigration lawyer.

Photo features top row: Hazim Abdullah-Smith, Gilma Chavez, Julie Choi; bottom row: Isabel Conforti, Tiffany Melgar.