Four UC Irvine students have been awarded highly coveted Fulbright grants to study abroad. Two will conduct public health research in Jordan; it’s the first time UC Irvine students have been placed in that country.

Sponsored by the State Department, Fulbright is the largest international exchange program in the U.S. It funds one year of graduate study, research or teaching in more than 155 countries. Congress established the program after World War II to promote global understanding.

“We congratulate our Fulbright Scholars upon winning these prestigious awards,” said Sharon Salinger, dean of undergraduate education. “Their achievements highlight their talent and dedication, while their projects underscore their values. We’re extremely proud of them and delighted that they’re international ambassadors for UCI.”

The grant recipients are:

Soraya Azzawi ’13, who has a double major in neurobiology and political science, will undertake public health research and explore psychosocial health conditions among Iraqi refugees in Jordan. She was also awarded UC Irvine’s 2012-13 XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship.

Felipe Hernandez ’13, who has a double major in music performance and political science, will teach English in Colombia. He won a Harry S. Truman Scholarship in 2012.

Armaan Rowther ’13, a biological sciences major with a minor in public health policy, will evaluate the effectiveness of merging a computer-aided diabetes education program with existing diabetes testing services for Palestinian refugees in Jordan. He received UC Irvine’s 2011-12 XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship.

Christine Thrasher ’12, an alumna in global cultures and German studies with a minor in civic & community engagement, will teach high school English in Germany.

“The Fulbright grant provides an unparalleled chance to immerse myself in global health research and assess mental health issues among Jordan’s refugee communities,” Azzawi said. “I’m honored to be selected and very fortunate to have this opportunity.”

Joining her in Jordan will be Rowther, whose research project involves diabetes education among residents of the Baqa’a refugee camp near Amman.

“My research will hopefully contribute toward better care and understanding of diabetes management and prevention in resource-limited settings,” he said. “The Fulbright award will allow me to pursue the compelling connection between providing direct care and pushing conventional limits of knowledge in what has become my highest aspiration: to heal, discover and empower as a physician-epidemiologist.”

Two additional UC Irvine students were chosen as an alternate and a finalist. Alternates may accept awards if winners decline due to family emergencies or health reasons. Alternate Pichaya Kositsawat ’13 hopes to conduct political science research in Argentina. Finalist John Naviaux ’12 is waiting to hear about a research grant in Norway.

UC Irvine’s Scholarship Opportunities Program manages students’ Fulbright applications; helps edit essays and write nomination letters; and facilitates the campus-level evaluation and endorsement of candidates.

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