Three Earlhamites have been chosen for prestigious Fulbright Awards during the 2019-20 academic year as part of the United States’ flagship government exchange program.
Jacob Harris ’18 and Tyler Tolman ’18 have received funding to become English-language teaching assistants in South Korea and Thailand, respectively. Nicole Gruszka’s ’19 Fulbright will support research on contemporary exorcism in rural Poland.
“These three students are the consummate cultural ambassadors Fulbright seeks,” says Elana Passman, Earlham associate professor of history and Fulbright liaison. “All three of our award winners this year served in leadership roles around campus — in student government, in Model United Nations, the Jewish Cultural Center, and beyond. They taught in the Writing Center and tutored. And they lived and studied abroad. They will be stellar representatives of the United States.”
Harris, who earned Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry at Earlham, is currently a research technician at Weill Cornell Medical School in New York City. He will travel to South Korea for the second time — his third time in Asia. After his Sophomore year he interned at the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Thailand, and as a Junior worked as a research assistant at KAIST University in South Korea, where he studied the linguistic and cultural challenges that arise when translating scientific research in Japanese, Korean and English.
“This prompted my fascination with East Asian languages and I look forward to learning Korean as a Fulbright scholar,” Harris says. “The Fulbright will build on much of what I did as an Earlham student, and I feel my Earlham education has prepared me to appreciate the opportunities this kind of adventure offers.”
After his Fulbright year, Harris will study medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and plans to become a physician in the U.S. Army.
Tolman, a graduate in both History and Spanish and Hispanic Studies, has two options to further his path as an educator. In addition to his Fulbright, Tolman also has an offer from Teach for America-Greater Philadelphia to earn his teaching certification at the University of Pennsylvania and serve as a high school Spanish teacher for the next two years. He is currently a coach with College Possible in Philadelphia, a program that works to improve college access and success for low-income students.
Gruszka, a Peace and Global Studies and Politics double major at Earlham, has entitled her research “Examining the Social Functions of Contemporary Exorcism in Rural Poland.” The project builds upon years of research that started at Earlham.
“The primary goal of my research will be to uncover the social functions of exorcism and examine the role of exorcism within rural religious life and rural life more generally,” Gruszka says in her application to the Fulbright program. She intends to interview both exorcists and the exorcised in the villages surrounding Lomza, and further contextualize these interviews through examination of publications and archival materials in the State Archives in Torún, the Ethnographic Museum in Torún and the library of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnology at the Polish Academic of Sciences in Warsaw.
All three Fulbright scholars plunged “full force” into Earlham’s liberal arts curriculum, Passman says.
“These are remarkably gifted students,” Passman says. “They devour ideas, and each has produced impressive works of original scholarship. Not only are they deep and versatile thinkers, but they take care to exercise their minds by immersing themselves in new areas of study.
“Jacob has attributes that make for the best teachers and the best doctors: those who can listen and learn, who are deeply compassionate, and yet unafraid, and who are able to communicate clearly and with grace,” she says. “Tyler animates any classroom he is in, and he throws his soul, his whole being into classes. Nicole has designed an original research project of significance that is built on years of study and research. Her linguistic fluency and her tremendous sensitivity to folk practices and traditions will be a great asset to her as she engages with both exorcists and the exorcized.”
With 35 students or recent graduates earning the prestigious Fulbright scholarship since 1999, Earlham has long been recognized among the nation’s best for producing well-prepared global scholars. In fact, the Chronicle for Higher Education recognized Earlham in both 2012 and 2014 as one of the nation’s top Fulbright-producing institutions.
Earlham promotes international study and scholarship through The Epic Initiative. This four-year journey combines the academic major with transformative learning experiences, including research, study away, internships and leadership development to prepare students exceptionally well for life beyond Earlham.
Earlham also offers The Epic Advantage — a funded internship, project or research experience of up to $5,000 per student — a level of support that few other institutions in the country can match.