St. Bonaventure Students Awarded Grants From Fulbright Program

ST. BONAVENTURE – Two St. Bonaventure students have been awarded grants from the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Simone Bernstein of St. Louis, graduates May 11 with an honors degree and a bachelor’s degree in altruism and entrepreneurship. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program awarded her a grant to research age-related hearing loss at the University of Toronto. The grant is for the 2014-15 academic year.

Rebecca Weitzel of Dansville, graduated magna cum laude last May from St. Bonaventure with a degree in elementary/special education and will earn her master’s in childhood literacy on May 11. She was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to work for 10 months in Malaysia, but declined the award because she had already accepted a two-year contract to teach second grade at the Al-Bayan Bilingual School in Kuwait.

“To have two students awarded Fulbright opportunities in the same year is a remarkable achievement, a testament to not only how talented these two young women are, but to the faculty and administrators here who helped them navigate the intensive process to apply for the grants,” said Dr. Wolfgang Natter, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

“I am particularly grateful to Bryan Messerly, who served this past year as our Fulbright adviser, and join him and our faculty in congratulating Simone and Rebecca.”

Bernstein will work with Dr. Claude Alain to investigate how older adults’ brains compensate for reduced speech representation in the auditory cortex. Alain’s lab at the University of Toronto is at the forefront of investigating the speech motor system in compensating for age-related declines in comprehending speech, she said.

A student in St. Bonaventure’s combined-degree Franciscan Health Care Professions program, Bernstein will begin medical school at George Washington University Medical School in fall 2015. She was granted a one-year deferment to allow her to accept the Fulbright grant.

“When I learned that I received the Fulbright, I was excited about the opportunity and honored to receive the grant,” Bernstein said. “By completing the project, I will better understand the effects of age and background noise on the cortical mechanism of speech perception. I want to pursue a career focused on the health and wellness of older adults.”

Fulbright awards to study in Canada offer a unique opportunity to explore important contemporary issues relevant to Canada and the United States and the relationship between the two countries, according to the Fulbright website.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the United States 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 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.