Two Connecticut College seniors and one recent alumna will receive Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants to teach English and conduct research abroad for an academic year.
Fulbright fellows receive round-trip travel to their host countries, a living stipend, project allowances and medical insurance. Connecticut College has had dozens of winners in the last five years and is regularly recognized as a top producer of Fulbright recipients.
“Connecticut College’s success with the Fulbright program is a testament to our commitment to educate students to put the liberal arts into action as citizens in an increasingly complex global society,” said Dean of the College Jefferson Singer.
“We are extremely proud of these Fulbright fellows. They have persevered through the immense challenges of the last year and are now prepared to make significant contributions as they represent Connecticut College and the United States in their host communities.”
Students were supported throughout the Fulbright program application process by an advising team composed of the Office of the Dean of the College; Dean of the College Jefferson Singer, Associate Dean of Global Initiatives Amy Dooling, Associate Director of The Walter Commons for Global Study and Engagement and Fellowships Melissa Ryan, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Slavic Studies and Assistant Director of the Academic Resource Center Christopher Colbath. Students interested in learning more about fellowship and grant opportunities are invited to explore the fellowships webpages.
The 2021 Fulbright fellowship winners are:
Dominique D'Onofrio ’18, English Teaching Assistantship to Romania
D’Onofrio, a double major in Italian studies and classical languages, earned certificates in museum studies and from the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA). She will be teaching English at a university in Romania.
“I was interested in applying for a Fulbright while at Conn and started revisiting the idea after getting my TEFL certification,” D’Onofrio said. “I've always loved teaching and after visiting Romania in September 2019, I wanted to return. I decided that applying for a Fulbright would be a perfect way to combine the two.”
After graduating in 2018, D’Onofrio earned a Master of Science degree in transnational crime, justice and security from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, where she conducted research on mafia involvement in antiquities trafficking in Italy. After spending a few years in Scotland, she taught Italian and art history at a high school abroad program in Switzerland. She is now working in her hometown of Bainbridge Island, Washington, until her Fulbright begins in October.
While in Romania, D’Onofrio plans to conduct research on the illegal trafficking of Dacian (ancient Romanian) cultural heritage including art, antiquities and gold. Following her Fulbright year, she plans to return to teaching art history for a year before pursuing further opportunities to research stolen art and antiquities trafficking.
D’Onofrio credits CISLA and the Museum Studies program at Conn with preparing her for the Fulbright and giving her the opportunity to explore an interest in art crime.
“My CISLA internship and related thesis allowed me to study something that I otherwise would not have been able to research,” she said. “Without those two centers at the College, I probably never would have been introduced to the world of art trafficking, let alone have the opportunity to explore it in the unique way that my internships and capstone projects for those centers allowed me to.”
Abigail Schmitt ’21, English Teaching Assistantship to Spain
Schmitt is an international relations and anthropology double major, Hispanic studies minor and CISLA scholar from Brookfield, Connecticut. She will spend the year teaching English to children aged 3-12 at a school in the Canary Islands.
“I have dreamed of applying for a Fulbright since my Camel Day before committing to Connecticut College in 2017. When I attended the acceptance student’s day, I was introduced to Professor Luis González, who brought me over to two booths: CISLA and Fulbright. Since that day, I have framed my College experience around achieving these two goals,” she said.
“I love helping people, enjoy teaching English, and want to continue furthering my Spanish language skills. I’ve been taking Spanish since I was 9 years old and believe that immersive experience is key to obtaining fluency.”
At Conn, Schmitt is the principal flutist and piccoloist for the Connecticut College Orchestra and Flute Studio, and she teaches English twice a week through Conn’s Community Partnerships office. She completed a study abroad semester in Peru. And she had two remote internships, one with the Peruvian branch of the international organization Action Against Hunger, and one as a family literacy intern with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services in New Haven, Connecticut.
In Spain, Schmitt plans to start an after-school cooking class to teach students to create recipes in English and explore the role of seafood and other foods in the community. She also plans to volunteer with a local organization, such as the Red Cross, that works to combat food insecurity and supply basic needs to refugees.
“I am thoroughly interested in food security and migration—my honors thesis is on food insecurity among Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Peru—and would love to do some volunteer work in the Canary Islands in this area, as there is a large migrant population,” she said.
After her Fulbright experience, Schmitt will be attending Cornell University to pursue a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in international development studies. She hopes to eventually work for the World Food Programme or United Nations Food and Agriculture Office to address food insecurity.
Jessica-Lyn Sweet ’21, English Teaching Assistantship to Brazil
Sweet is a history major, a Latin American and Latino studies minor and a scholar in the Global Capitalism Pathway from Seekonk, Massachusetts. She will be teaching English at the university level, and plans to take advanced Portuguese language classes.
“One of my main motivations to apply for a Fulbright to Brazil was to increase my fluency in Brazilian Portuguese, knowing that the largest Portuguese speaking population living in the United States is Brazilian and that speaking this dialect will prove beneficial when working with immigrant populations, either in immigration law or English as a Second Language teaching roles in my future,” Sweet said. “I also picked Brazil for the similarities it has with the United States. Both countries have a complex colonial past and are striving to be multiracial and multicultural democracies.”
Sweet says she has always had an interest in becoming a teacher. During her time at Conn, she worked as a special education paraprofessional at New London Public Schools, and she is currently employed as a hybrid substitute at New London’s Winthrop STEM Elementary Magnet School. She received a ConnSSHARP research fellowship to study Cape Verdean and Portuguese American immigrant populations in the U.S. During the summer of 2020, with funding from the Hale Center for Career Development and the Walter Commons Proctor Scholarship, Sweet completed a six-week intensive and immersive study of Brazilian Portuguese through Middlebury Language Schools.
A first-generation college student, Sweet says she had several professors who were instrumental in her development as a scholar, including Professors Leo Garofalo and Maria Cruz-Saco, and she credits Professor of History and Global Capitalism Pathway Coordinator Sarah Queen with helping her expand her horizons in the classroom and reach her full potential.
“The way that Professor Queen pushed us to think critically about capitalism and other structures that inform the world around us has completely changed how I perceive the world and my place in it,” she said. “She believed in me when I felt so out of place and unsure of myself or purpose.”
Following her Fulbright year, Sweet hopes to pursue a master of education with a focus on bilingual education.
“I am specifically interested in Brown University's Master of Arts in Portuguese Bilingual Education or ESL Education and Cross-Cultural Studies,” she said.
“I know this [Fulbright] experience will allow me to be a lifelong learner and speaker of Portuguese, opening up a world of opportunities here and abroad.”