They’re traveling to South Korea, Germany, Spain, and beyond. They’re serving underrepresented populations, searching for answers to some of the most vexing diseases, and fighting for gender equality.
They’re Northeastern’s Truman Scholars and Fulbright Scholars.
It’s a record-breaking year for academic honorees at Northeastern. The university boasts two Truman Scholars in a year when more students than ever before were nominated in the U.S. It’s also home to nine Fulbright Scholars, the most ever in a single year for the university.
The honorees will be celebrated by President Joseph E. Aoun at the Academic Honors Convocation on Thursday. The annual ceremony recognizes students and faculty who have received prestigious awards for scholarship, research, or teaching over the past year.
“Both awards fund transformative experiences—whether it be going to graduate school for public policy or undertaking the Fulbright year,” said Jonna Iacono, who directs the Scholars Program and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.
“The experiences awardees have here shape lives and would not likely be otherwise possible,” she said. “The recognition itself puts people into conversation with like-minded individuals at all levels. These networks of peers and mentors open doors that might otherwise be closed—or only opened after many years and much hard work.”
Meet some of Northeastern’s honorees.
Juan Gallego and Kritika Singh have been named Truman Scholars. The scholarship is a national award and the premiere fellowship in the U.S. for those pursuing careers as public service leaders.
The award recognizes exemplary academic abilities, as well as demonstrated leadership and the drive to serve the public. It provides funding for graduate study, mentoring, and connection to a national network of public service leaders. Former Truman Scholars include Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York; former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams; and current Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
“The Truman Foundation reports receiving 840 applications from 346 institutions—a record number for both,” Iacono said. “Kritika and Juan, as representatives of our university’s values ‘Lux, Veritas, Virtus,’ have been recognized as leaders amongst leaders, with a vision and the wherewithal to make that vision a reality that is the hallmark of those who make significant contributions to the public good.”
Gallego, who is currently studying abroad in Spain, is majoring in political science at Northeastern. He led the formation of a human rights commission in his hometown of Chelsea, Massachusetts, in 2017, and plans to build upon that experience in order to advocate for disenfranchised communities with the civic organization, Voto Latino, according to his application.
Singh is studying bioengineering at Northeastern, and she’s focusing on monitoring and controlling emerging infectious diseases in the United States. She plans to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Washington, D.C., in order to help shape public health policy. Singh founded the Northeastern Global Health Initiative, a student-led global health conference, in 2017.
Ngenyi Stephanie Beja, Zoe Bishop, Tim DiFazio, Cathy Tripp, Megan Doe, Claire Frey, Isaac Kresse, Eleanor Patten, and Kevin Ryan have been named Fulbright Scholars. The scholarship is a prestigious award that provides grants for research projects or English teaching assistant programs. Past winners have included former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, author Jonathan Franzen, and soprano Renee Fleming.
“Everyone knows what a Fulbright is, even if what a Fulbright is varies widely,” Iacono said. “Earning the Fulbright Scholarship means that our students have demonstrated that they can communicate and do important work in a wide variety of cultural contexts, often in a non-English language, and that they have the qualities of person and character to represent our institutional and national ideals in their full diversity to people around the world.”
Beja, who is studying international affairs at Northeastern, will use her Fulbright to teach English in Belgium—a country “that supports multiple languages and diverse identities,” she wrote in her application. Beja plans to bring to Belgium her experience and interest in the Afro-house style of dance.
Bishop is studying biochemistry at Northeastern, and won a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in South Korea. She studied abroad in South Korea a year ago, and has dreamed of returning ever since, she says.
“This is an amazing opportunity,” Bishop said of the award. “I still can’t believe it’s real. I am very, very honored and very proud.”
DiFazio, who is studying English at Northeastern, will also be teaching English in South Korea through his Fulbright. Having taught English previously in Mongolia, DiFazio plans to expand the skills he’s already learned by running English language drama and film clubs in South Korea, according to his application.
Tripp is studying international affairs at Northeastern, and she, too, will use her scholarship to teach English in South Korea. As a woman of color, she wrote in her application, she hopes to encourage girls and women in her host community to “have a greater voice, representation, and connection in the global fight for women’s equality.”
Doe, who is pursuing a master’s degree in global studies and international relations, will teach English in Germany with her Fulbright. “I believe language and cultural exchange are critical to creating mutual respect between people of diverse backgrounds,” she wrote in her application.
Frey, who is studying communications at Northeastern, will teach English in Brazil. She has a comprehensive understanding of three languages besides English: French, Portuguese, and Italian. Frey plans to volunteer with urban farming and gardening projects in Brazil, according to her application.
Kresse, a chemistry and computer engineering student at Northeastern, will use his Fulbright Scholarship to study the role of chaperone proteins in age-related diseases such as Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s, according to his application. He’ll study at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Germany, a country where, he wrote, there will soon be fewer people under 30 years old than there are people over 60.
Patten, a political science and marketing student, will use her scholarship to teach English in Spain as a means to bolster her Spanish-speaking skills. Once armed with her newfound fluency, Patten plans to teach English to “vulnerable populations in the United States,” she wrote in her application. Patten also plans to parlay what she learns in Spain into her own education-based social enterprise, she wrote.
Kevin Ryan, a doctoral candidate in marine and environmental sciences, will leverage his Fulbright to analyze the effect of commercial salmon fishing on the levels of dissolved matter in freshwater in Chile.