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Whitworth University produces record number of Fulbright Scholars

May 21, 2014

Six out of 16 Whitworth-student applicants were selected as Fulbright Scholars for 2014-15, a record number for the university, which has a long-standing tradition of producing Fulbright Scholars each year.

“Whitworth is known for emphasizing both academic excellence and service, two things that are essential for building competitive Fulbright applicants,” says Megan Hershey, Whitworth assistant professor of political science and the university’s Fulbright advisor. “Each student who received a Fulbright award this year went through a rigorous process of application construction and revision. A Whitworth education prepares students to tackle these tasks.”

The recipients will serve in the English Teaching Assistant Program, a component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program that places American students as English-teaching assistants in schools abroad. The participants will live and work in their host-country for nine to 10 months during the 2014-15 academic year.

Whitworth’s 2014-15 Fulbright recipients are:

  • Stephen Eyman, ’12, international studies and Spanish double-major; will teach in Colombia
  • Alanna Feltner, ’14, psychology and Spanish double-major; will teach in Mexico
  • Kelsey Marcinko, ’14, mathematics major; will teach in the Slovak Republic
  • Konstantin Tachan, ’14, chemistry major; will teach in South Korea
  • Austin Vander Wel, ’14, cross-cultural studies, international studies and Spanish triple-major; will teach in Costa Rica
  • Sondra Willmann, ’14, elementary and special education double-major; will teach in Malaysia

“Three of my great-grandparents emigrated from Slovakia, so I am very excited about this opportunity to connect with my heritage,” Marcinko says. “For a long time, one of my goals has been to learn to speak Slovak, and now that dream is going to become a reality.”

After teaching in the Slovak Republic, Marcinko will pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Washington Department of Applied Mathematics. She plans to become a professor of mathematics.

Stephen Eyman, ’12
Vander Wel says he deeply appreciates the support he received from friends and family throughout the Fulbright application process. “I look forward to helping others grow in their understanding of my language and culture, while also growing personally through linguistic and cultural exchanges,” he says. “I am enthusiastic about representing my nation in Costa Rica.”

After his time in Costa Rica, Vander Wel plans to further his education in a Spanish, Latin American studies, or linguistics master’s-degree program.

"While the Fulbright Program provides a great number of benefits for individuals - a once-in-a-lifetime experience to either conduct funded research or teach English abroad - the program’s most important goal is to promote peace and cooperation through understanding,” Hershey says.

In 2009 and 2011, Whitworth was named a top producer of Fulbright students among master’s-level universities nationwide. Since 2000, 31 Whitworth students have been selected as Fulbright scholars.

Alanna Feltner, ’14
Whitworth faculty members who have received Fulbright fellowships in recent years include Professor Emeritus of Theatre Rick Hornor, in 2012; Professor of Economics Richard Schatz, in 2007; Professor of Art Gordon Wilson, in 2003; and Professor of Political Science John C. Yoder, in 2001.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, America's international educational exchange program, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. For more than 60 years, the bureau has funded and supported programs that promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Austin Vander Wel, ’14
Since the Fulbright Program’s establishment in 1946, under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright, of Arkansas, the program has provided opportunities for approximately 318,000 people from the United States and from countries around the world to observe each other’s political, economic, educational and cultural institutions; to exchange ideas; and to embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world's inhabitants. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Megan Hershey, assistant professor of political science, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4951 or

Lucas Beechinor, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or