Photo: young woman standing by columns of an ancient site
Olivia Coffman, a 2018 graduate of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science, traveling in Cambodia before her Sri Lankan Fulbright experience. She is one of seven college alumni offered Fulbright awards for 2018-19.

Seven College Alumni Offered Fulbright Awards

Thirteen UC Davis students and alumni have been awarded 2018–19 Fulbright fellowships — the largest group of Aggies ever awarded. Seven of them are recent graduates of the College of Letters and Science.

The prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program focuses on the international exchange of knowledge and human experiences. Each Fulbright fellowship provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. 

“As UC Davis is connecting more and more with the world, these Fulbright experiences bring tremendous opportunities for our students and alumni — and for the communities with which they’re working,” said Joanna Regulska, vice provost and associate chancellor of Global Affairs. “This exchange of culture, of knowledge and of perspectives, benefits us all.”

2018–19 College of Letters and Science Fulbright Finalists

  • Oluwafunmike “Funke” Aderonmu (B.A., international relations and economics, ’17), Rwanda
  • Olivia Coffman (B.A., international relations, ’18), Sri Lanka
  • Monserrat Garcia (B.A., sociology, ’17), Spain
  • Katelyn Guy (B.A., political science and Spanish, ’18), Mexico
  • Brian Lee (B.A., economics, ’18), Taiwan
  • Gopika Mavalankar (B.A., international relations, ’18), Spain
  • Evelyn Vasquez (B.A., English, ’16), Mexico

Finalists are candidates who have been offered a Fulbright U.S. Student grant, contingent upon host country approvals, medical clearance and submission of all required grant documents. Some finalists decline the awards to pursue other opportunities; Aderonmu, for example, opted to stay in the Washington, D.C., area to work in public policy.

An international relations major in Sri Lanka

Olivia Coffman, who graduated in June with an international relations major and human rights minor, is the recipient of an English Teaching Assistant Fulbright. She will be traveling to Matara, a mid-size coastal city located at the southern tip of Sri Lanka, to teach English at a large secondary school.

“I’ve always been interested in international education,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on straight out of college, so I thought the Fulbright would be the quintessential program to participate in before beginning graduate studies.”

With the education system in Sri Lanka very different from that of the U.S., Coffman said she is eager to absorb as much as she can from this international education experience: 

“While I’m looking forward to being exposed to this different school system and teaching abroad, I’m definitely most excited to be in the classroom with the kids. Getting to see how they interact and absorb the material compared to how my peers and I did back in school will be an invaluable experience.”

Rise in applications

By raising the profile of Fulbright opportunities on campus, UC Davis has seen a steady increase in applications, according to Scott Palmer, prestigious scholarship advisor in Financial Aid and Scholarships at UC Davis. The result, he said, was this year’s record number of Aggie awardees.

UC Davis Graduate Studies and Financial Aid and Scholarships guide UC Davis Fulbright Students throughout the application process, while UC Davis Global Affairs welcomes and supports Visiting Fulbright Scholars and Students who arrive on campus from across the world to teach and to study.

— Adapted by Kathleen Holder, UC Davis College of Letters and Science, from a UC Davis Global Affairs story


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