Trio from Earlham selected for prestigious Fulbright scholarships

Three Earlham College seniors have been selected for prestigious Fulbright scholarships for the 2024-25 academic year.

Meg Lyczak and Diana Guzman Rivera have been awarded Fulbright English Language Teaching Assistantships to Colombia and Mexico, respectively. Mary Jo Easley received the Fulbright Graduate Studies Award. The scholarship supports Easley’s enrollment in the University of Toronto-Mississauga’s master’s degree program in sustainability management. 

The trio add to Earlham’s proud legacy of producing outstanding global ambassadors that meet the purpose of the Fulbright program, the flagship cultural exchange program from the United States government. Since 1991, 42 Earlhamites have been selected for scholarships from Fulbright’s U.S. Student Program.

“Year after year, Fulbright sees exceptional promise in Earlham students,” said Elana Passman, Earlham associate professor of history and Fulbright liaison. “What a joy and inspiration to work closely with such talented, introspective, and engaged students.

Two other seniors, Andrew Guerard-Adie, an ancient and classical studies major, and Jacob Munday, a Spanish and Hispanic studies major, were both semi-finalists for Fulbrights to Greece and Spain, respectively.

Meg Lyczak

Lyczak’s Fulbright journey began more than four years ago at La 72, a migrant shelter 20 miles north of the Guatemala-Mexico border. She had been working as a hospital liaison helping migrants navigate Mexico’s rural healthcare system.

“I got the job because I was the only volunteer who could drive the manual transmission beat-up truck the shelter owned,” Lyczak said. “I drove down paved and dirt roads daily to bring our guests to the hospital. My passengers came from many different countries with various medical needs. Some were in crisis. Others were seeking routine care.”

The job didn’t just transform Lyczak’s worldview. It also encouraged her to enroll in college five years after graduating from high school in New Hampshire.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do after school high,” she said. “I worked as a farmer, teacher, and backpacking trip leader. I followed my interests and passions and was open to all the places where learning can happen, but the most impactful work was with migrants.

“Navigating the rural Mexican healthcare system and helping our guests in incredibly vulnerable and scary moments has been my greatest lessons in the importance of understanding the complexities of culture.”

At Earlham, Lyczak majored in peace and global studies. She also enrolled in the College’s Border Studies program, a semester-long program based in Tucson, Arizona, where students travel to communities on both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border. Students learn from community members and organizations as well in engage in service to support grassroots efforts in central and southern Mexico, El Paso, Texas, and throughout the Arizona/Sonora borderlands.

“As a Peace and Global Studies major, Meg moves easily between theoretical frameworks and the active work of making justice in the world,” Passman said. “A person of immense integrity, Meg is driven by a powerful and clear sense of purpose. 

“Meg is exceptionally mature, adaptable, and seems always to proceed with intention,” she said. “Her stories reveal her to be deeply humane and a creative, engaged, and caring teacher and citizen of the world.”

“My Earlham education helped me think more critically about borders and systems that create the global inequality that we see in today’s society,” Lyczak said. “

“My Earlham education helped me think more critically about borders and systems that create the global inequality that we see in today’s society.”

Meg Lyczak

Lyczak credits her Earlham education for helping her think more critically about borders and systems. “Through the Border Studies Program I was able to understand more deeply systems of militarization and colonization globally which put my experiences into perspective,” she said.

Lyczak believes her Fulbright scholarship will be an important step in her journey.

“I have concluded that healthy communities are crucial to our changing globalized world, and I hope to build healthy intercultural communities during the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Colombia — both inside and outside of the classroom,” she said. “My experiences working and learning from people in transitional moments from many different parts of the globe will guide me as an English teaching assistant.” 

Diana Guzman Rivera

Before graduating from Earlham in May with a degree in sociology-anthropology, Guzman Rivera estimates she has logged more than 1,800 hours of community service — many spent helping others learn English. 

“Of those hours, approximately 500 hours were devoted to direct service assisting in a classroom, which ultimately led to my interest in applying for an English Teaching Assistantship in Mexico,” Guzman Rivera said.

As part of Earlham’s semester-long off-campus program in Ecuador, the Chicago native offered English tutoring services as a volunteer for La Fundaciόn El Arenal, a non-profit community center providing after-school services for youth. She also taught English to a coworker during an internship with Scholars of Sustenance in Bali, Indonesia. On campus, she planned and facilitated bilingual events that cater to a broader audience through Latinx House, a theme house for students at Earlham College, and the student-led Latinx and Caribbean Student Association. 

“Active commitment to my community and doing service has been a transformative aspect of my upbringing and overall academic journey and will always be a part of my life,” she said.

Growing up with parents who primarily speak Spanish, Guzman Rivera understands the role English plays in a global society.

“As I grew up, I always had to navigate the English-speaking, Spanish-speaking, and English-Spanish worlds.”

Diana Guzman Rivera

“As I grew up, I always had to navigate the English-speaking, Spanish-speaking, and English-Spanish worlds,” she said. “I have always been the point person for my parents with anything related to English, whether it was to order food over the phone or help translate a letter from the Secretary of State.”

Passman credits Guzman Rivera’s Earlham education and global scholarship for being an “astonishingly acute observer of cultural difference.”

“Diana shows a depth of character and wisdom that makes her a compelling representative of the United States in the World,” she said.

In addition to furthering her passion for teaching English, Guzman Rivera’s Fulbright will also deepen her connection to her Mexican heritage.

“My primary experience in Mexico is from a two-week timeframe around Christmas time, so being able to experience the culture year-round is a dream,” she said. “As a Mexican American, learning more about Mexican culture firsthand in Mexico from community members and directly experiencing all of its traditions truly excites me.”

Mary Jo Easley

As the daughter of winery owners, Easley spent her summers dodging snakes and pulling dead leaves from vineyards in southern Indiana.

“Seeing the grapes before they were crushed and bottled allowed me to realize all products have an origin in a field, forest or waterway,” said Easley, who will earn a degree in global management in May. “In my life I have witnessed grapes become more difficult to grow due to a new reality: climate change.”

As an intern at Walmart’s corporate headquarters, she studied food systems and witnessed the company’s commitment to becoming a regenerative company.

“I worked with the senior vice president of sustainability and the private label team manager, who together decide whether thousands of stores carry non-dairy milk, meat alternatives, and zero-waste products,” she said. “The scale was daunting, but it reminded me that to make global change, I will need to work with those who either currently run our economy or are willing to disrupt it.”

In addition to her academic major, Easley also completed minors in environmental sustainability and earth and environmental science at Earlham. She is currently studying abroad with Earlham faculty in New Zealand to further her interest in climate change.

“There is a homeostasis between people, profit and the planet. I want to dedicate my life to finding and spreading that balance.”

Mary Jo Easley

“MJ is a serious scholar whose research on regenerative agriculture with Earlham Professor Jaime Coon was critical to her selection as a Fulbright Master’s student,” Passman said. “MJ is also an absolute dynamo. She identifies problems and immediately sets out to resolve them. 

“At Earlham, she launched innovative projects like green bucket composting, a water bottle refill initiative, and a t-shirt recycling drive — the week Fulbright applications were due,” she said.

As a Fulbright scholar, Easley hopes to elevate solutions at the interface of climate and business innovation.

“There is a homeostasis between people, profit and the planet,” Easley said. “I want to dedicate my life to finding and spreading that balance.”


About Earlham College 

Earlham College and Earlham School of Religion foster a collaborative learning community that inspires and motivates students with transformative opportunities and experiences so they can become catalysts for good in a changing world. Located in Richmond, Indiana, Earlham is one of U.S. News & World Report’s Top 100 national liberal arts colleges and offers one of the top 20 classroom experiences in the nation, according to the Princeton Review.

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We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.