Two U students receive Fulbright awardsTwo more selected as alternates

Two University of Utah students have been selected as finalists for the prestigious Fulbright scholarship and two students have been chosen as alternates.

Elizabeth Gamarra and Alison Shimko have received highly competitive Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board for the 2017-2018 academic year. The awards will allow both to teach English in Spain.

Tuscan Thompson and Claire Taylor are alternates and will receive the award if openings are created. If selected, Thompson will teach English in South Korea and Taylor will conduct research in New Zealand.

Gamarra and Shimko are two of 1,900 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research and provide expertise abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.

The U.S. Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build relations between people in the U.S. and the people of other countries that are needed to solve global challenges. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriate made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Fulbright recipients address critical global challenges in all areas, while building relationships, knowledge and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 54 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 92 who have received Pulitzer Prizes and 33 who have served as a head of state or government.

An open house will be held, Monday, April 24 at 3 p.m. in the Union, parlor A, to celebrate the awardees and provide information on how students can receive a Fulbright of their own. Students can also visit or contact Howard Lehman, director of the Fulbright Program, to learn more.


Elizabeth Gamarra, graduate in social work with emphasis in mental health and a graduate certificate in women’s health.

“I am interested in exploring the impact of self-compassion and mindfulness interventions in classroom settings for confidence enhancement of second language learners. I am interested in gaining a European/Spaniard perspective on the foundational concepts of social work in relation to teaching.”


Alison Shimko, honors undergraduate in Spanish, speech and hearing science and a minor in psychology.

“Teaching and having an impact on someone’s life was the driving force behind my application. I’ve taught high school and middle school students and have been studying Spanish from a very young age. When I studied abroad, I was amazed by the different influences of cultures on the Spanish language and how it has evolved over the years.”


Tuscan Thompson, honors undergraduate in biology

“I’ve been learning foreign languages almost non-stop for the past nine years, but I’ve rarely had the opportunity to teach my own language to others. The few times I have, I’ve enjoyed the experience immensely. I want to teach in Korea, not only because I have experience with Korean high school students, but because I’m interested in their emerging scientific community and I hope to one day support multi-national scientific work through policy-making.”


Claire Taylor, graduate in environmental humanities

“Informed by encounters with wildlife and immersion in ecosystems, I propose to create artwork about New Zealand’s wildlife issues. I will create this work through the structure of a research-based MFA program at either the University of Auckland or Auckland University of Technology. I would like to create artwork that inspires connection with and protection for wildlife and native ecosystems, and a MFA program would strengthen my abilities to do this.”