Fulbright award - The University of Tulsa

Fulbright award

Two Class of 2022 alumni receive Fulbright awards

Just a few weeks before they graduated from The University of Tulsa, Luke Bertaux (BSBA ’22) and Heath Fusco (BA ’22) were elated to learn the Fulbright U.S. Student Program had selected them to experience life overseas as English teaching assistants.

Eastward to Spain

young man standing outdoors in front of a large green field and wearing an open-collar orange, blue and white-checked shirt
Luke Bertaux

Hailing from Keller, Texas, Luke Bertaux completed a major in computer information systems and a minor in cyber security. Beginning in September, Bertaux will work as an English teaching assistant at the University of Málaga, located in southern Spain. In this role, he will spend 9 months helping the university’s teaching staff with degree programs that are taught in English, conduct academic writing workshops and tutor students.

“I am very happy to be placed at the university level for my Fulbright award because I will have the opportunity to help others that are around the same age as me,” said Bertaux. This will be his first time in Europe, and he is looking forward to seeing a new part of the world and “really excited” to improve his Spanish speaking skills: “I’ve never really used Spanish outside of the classroom, and I think that spending a year abroad will really help advance my fluency, which is something I’ve desired since I began studying the language in the 8th grade.”

One of many people who is certain Bertaux will succeed in this regard is Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature Bruce Dean Willis: “Luke’s enthusiasm for the language, his informed curiosity and his natural linguistic talent enhanced by his time abroad, have led him to be active in Spanish- and Latin American-focused student activities on campus that will no doubt prove invaluable as a Fulbright teacher of English in Spain.”

Bertaux credits several individuals and programs at TU for helping him to prepare and apply for this award. As a peer tutor, for instance, he encountered and worked through situations likely to arise in Málaga, while taking part in Global Scholars “helped me think critically about international challenges, which, in turn, motivated me to apply for the Fulbright. I also wove in to my application some of what I had learned in the Global Scholars program.” Meantime, he believes his computer science courses at TU have given him knowledge that will be essential when working with STEM students in Spain.

On the personal level, Denise Dutton, director of TU’s Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships, was immensely helpful to Bertaux. “The application is very long and there is a lot of waiting as you advance to each new stage,” he noted, “but Dr. Dutton helped alleviate my stress and provide great guidance.”

Another member of the university’s staff with whom Bertaux regularly interacted was Tami Barrett, a student success coach. “Luke is the kind of person you want in a helping role,” commented Barrett. “Big-hearted and humble, he’s a promoter of kindness on all fronts and demonstrates true strength of character. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching him grow and flourish in his time as a student and student-worker at TU. Luke is destined to shine brightly in his upcoming Fulbright experience in Spain!”

Southward to Paraguay

young man with short hair standing outdoors in front of a stone building while wearing a blue shirt, golden bowtie and black blazer
Heath Fusco

Heath Fusco (BA ’22) graduated in early May with a double major in political science and Spanish. He also completed a minor in law, policy and social justice.

The small city of Nixa in southwestern Missouri – Fusco’s hometown — is a long way from the Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, which is where he will move to in February 2023 to being work as Fulbright English teaching assistant. While there, Fusco will help college-aged students learn English and organize cross-cultural community events designed to share U.S. culture with residents in his host country.

One of the aspects of life in Paraguay that energizes Fusco most is the fact that he will be immersed in a place that relatively few Americans travel to or even know much about. “I hope to learn as much as I can about Paraguayan culture,” said Fusco, “and that includes by taking classes in Guaraní, the country’s major Indigenous language.” While overseas, Fusco also plans to develop a community-sourced cookbook comprising Paraguayan and American recipes: “Food is a second passion of mine, and I’m hopeful this cookbook will enable communities in Paraguay and the U.S. to learn more about each other through food.”

But even before he steps onto the jetway and heads south, Fusco already knows a great deal about the country – and one of its two main tongues — he is about to call home. “Heath has had an illustrious run as a Spanish major,” commented Dean Willis, “producing top-notch written work with rigorous research as well as being one of the most active and insightful participants in class — all of this in flawless Spanish. He has made a point of researching and writing about Paraguay in his courses, to the extent that he will arrive for his Fulbright period with extensive background knowledge of the country.”

Not unlike Bertaux, Fusco credits his time with Global Scholars as formative. “Since day one, that program has kept me thinking about issues through a global lens, and there’s no way I would have won a Fulbright without it.” In addition, being able to travel abroad to Panama and Spain taught him, Fusco notes, the cross-cultural and language skills he will rely on in South America.

On the academic side of the house, Fusco underscores the preparation he received as a student of political science and Spanish. “Those departments and the courses I took through them encouraged me to be culturally sensitive, academically curious and conscious of social justice,” he remarked. According to Fusco, “all my professors – especially Jeffrey Hockett, Ryan Saylor, Denise Dutton, Lara Foley and Bruce Dean Willis – graciously invested their time, energy and confidence in me, and got me where I am today.”

For his part, Professor of Political Science Jeffrey Hockett is pleased to return the compliment, celebrating Fusco and his achievement: “Heath is more than deserving of the Fulbright grant that he has been awarded, and I couldn’t be happier for him. Although I regret that I will no longer benefit from his contributions in my classes – indeed, Heath is among the best students that I have taught in my 35 years at TU – I look forward to learning about his experiences and contributions in Paraguay, and to following what will surely be an amazing career.”

If you are interested in applying for a Fulbright or other major awards, TU’s Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships is ready to get you on your way!


TU students and alumni advance to Fulbright semifinals

Six remarkable, inspiring individuals have advanced to the 2022 Fulbright Award semifinals. Get to know them through these short profiles.

Luke Bertaux is a senior majoring in computer information systems, with a minor in cybersecurity. On campus, he works in the Office of Admission, On-Campus Housing and the peer tutoring center. Bertaux has been selected as a Fulbright semifinalist for an English teaching assistantship in Spain. If selected for the award, he hopes to teach English at a STEM-focused school in Spain while improving his own Spanish language skills. Bertaux also hopes to start a coding club as a way to engage his students.

Heath Fusco is a senior majoring in political science and Spanish, with a minor in law, policy and social justice. At TU, he is involved in Honors, Global Scholars and University Ambassadors. Fusco applied for an English teaching assistantship in Paraguay. Looking ahead to his career, Fusco aspires to work as a human rights lawyer.

Karen Vega graduated from TU in 2019 with a bachelor of arts in music and a minor in law, policy and society. At TU, she played flute for the marching band and wind ensemble. Vega currently lives in Tulsa and recently published her first YA novel. She applied to be an English teaching assistant in Spain. Depending on her placement, Vega will work with early childhood, elementary, middle or high school students, or even with vocational and university students. She also plans to start a community garden club for students and their families as her community engagement project, and she is excited for the opportunity to use her experience in the nonprofit and education fields to work with students and to be a cultural ambassador.

six photos of young students and alumni (four men and two women)
Top row: Rose Vega, Nevin Subramanian, Luke Bertaux / Bottom row: Heath Fusco, Ann Marie Flusche, Adam Walsh

Ann Marie Flusche is a senior biology major with minors in biomedical engineering and chemistry. As a Fulbright scholar, she would be conducting research at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne, Germany. The focus of her proposed research project is the neuroprotective role of Aspartate and its potential for extending neuron survival by modulating neuronal function and metabolism. One of the primary goals of this research is to better understand the nature of Aspartate-mediated neuronal longevity for the benefit of improving neuronal function and survival during aging and neurodegenerative disorders. Ultimately, Flusche plans to pursue a M.D. or M.D./Ph.D.

Nevin Subramanian graduated from TU with a double major in finance and music, pre-law, in 2021. After graduation, he worked as a client advocate at the civil practice of Still She Rises, helping incarcerated mothers resolve Social Security legal issues and staving off housing evictions. A few months later, he joined Amazon as a legal assistant, specializing in governmental contracts both domestically and globally. If given the opportunity to be a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Indonesia, Subramanian hopes to combine his musical and teaching experience to create a learning atmosphere in which students feel comfortable incorporating music into their English learning experience. Ultimately, Subramanian wants to acclimate to an accepting, exciting culture in which he is able to reconnect to his first language (Bahasa Malay/Indonesia), while offering the unique learning perspective of an immigrant who has spent his life on the intersection of Malaysian and American culture.

Adam Walsh is an English, history and German triple major with a certificate in classical studies. He currently works as managing editor of The Collegian, TU’s student newspaper. Walsh plans to graduate in May and hopes to be accepted into the Fulbright program serving students in Germany as an English teaching assistant. His primary goal involves bringing the English language beyond the classroom and into the personal lives of students and their families through the development of new programs that exemplify the nature of translation theory. He also looks forward to taking advantage of teaching in a country famous for its board game culture, hoping to use this as a tool to aid students not only in their English language proficiency but in their thinking about what it means to be a bilingual individual in an increasingly cosmopolitan world.

Notifications of awards are expected in January 2023.

If you are interested in applying for a Fulbright or other major awards, TU’s Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships is ready to get you on your way!



Professors receive Fulbright awards to conduct research in Europe

University of Tulsa Professor of Marketing Brian Chabowski has been granted a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Finland and Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Erin Iski has received a Fulbright award to the Czech Republic.

“This recognition supports Dr. Chabowski’s well-regarded research in international marketing and sustainability, plus his professional background provides a solid foundation for his proposed Fulbright projects,” remarked Acting Provost Tracy Manly. “For Dr. Iski, the Fulbright award allows her to advance her work at this critical stage of her career and then share the findings with the growing number of TU students who are interested in the intersection of biology and chemistry.”

Sustainability in Finland

man with short hair and glasses smiling while wearing a black blazer
Brian Chabowski

Beginning in August 2021, Chabowski will research for nine months at the University of Vaasa in partnership with the Fulbright Finland Foundation as part of a series of projects that examine domestic and international aspects of environmental, social and economic sustainability implementation. “Since I began studying the topic of sustainability over a decade ago,” Chabowski said, “it has been well known that Finland is a model country which has successfully implemented widespread sustainability projects in the private and public sectors in a very comprehensive manner on a local, national, and international scale.”

His proposal includes four distinct projects to begin while in Finland. These plans focus on international social ventures; marketing channel sustainability; emergent and sustainable energy solutions for small and medium enterprises; and digital entrepreneurship and sustainability competitiveness. He intends to coordinate with local partners of the University of Vaasa, such as the Vaasa Energy Business Innovation Centre, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship InnoLab and the Technobothnia research and development laboratory to survey local businesses on their domestic and international sustainability-related initiatives. “It is a great honor to be selected as a Fulbright scholar, and I want to take this exceptional opportunity to conduct in-country research and then return with newly gained insights to apply to real-life classroom examples as well as elsewhere at TU.”

Under the microscope in the Czech Republic

woman with long light-colored hair smiling and wearing a patterned blouse
Erin Iski

Based at Charles University in Prague, Iski will focus on the use of specialized microscopy to understand and investigate biological molecules on gold nanoparticles. Her work is pertinent to a variety of fields, including origin of life studies, in which it is critical to understand how small biological molecules interact on metal surfaces and perhaps join together to grow larger structures, such as proteins. Iski’s collaboration with Anna Fučíková in Prague is essential to the success of the larger project because Fučíková’s group is particularly suited to understanding these interactions under biological conditions. “In many ways,” noted Iski, “this scholarship presents the natural next step in my foundational work at TU.”

Becoming a Fulbright Global Scholar has been a career goal of Iski’s for as long as she knew the opportunity existed. “Now, not only will I have the chance to perform transformative research in a group that specializes in my niche research area, but I also get to create lasting cultural and academic relationships in one of the most amazing places in Europe.” Iski added that, given her ancestral background is in Eastern Europe, she looks forward to immersing herself in the culture, history and language of the Czech Republic. “And after learning about the Fulbright mission, I believe these goals are exactly what was intended in the founding of this program.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, to counter misunderstandings and to help people and nations work together toward common goals. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and discover solutions to shared international concerns.

English graduate student receives Fulbright award

Muriel Unseth (BBA ’19) has received a Fulbright award to the Czech Republic for the 2021-22 academic year. Currently, Unseth is nearing completion of a master’s degree in The University of Tulsa’s Department of English Language and Literature. “I’m scared and thrilled and absolutely honored to have this opportunity,” said Unseth. “How many times in your life do you get to sign up for a genuine adventure?”

young woman with long hair wearing a black top standing outdoors in front of red flowers
Muriel Unseth

“Now in its 75th year, the Fulbright program is one of the most competitive and prestigious fellowship programs for academic exchange,” noted Karen Petersen, dean of Kendall College of Arts and Sciences. “TU has a history of success with national and international fellowships, which demonstrates the value of the strong education students receive at TU and the personal growth they achieve as part of that process. Congratulations to Muriel and the faculty and staff who advised and mentored her during her time at TU.”

Overseas adventure awaits

For 10 months, Unseth will serve as a teaching assistant at a high school in a small town outside of Prague. “The Czech Republic’s education system is different than ours,” Unseth explained, “and students select their career paths very early and the education system is therefore more specialized. I could be placed in a gymnasium, a traditional high school focused on college preparation, or I could be placed in a school that specializes in agriculture, military education, nursing, business, arts and music, forestry, wine production — it’s a mixed bag that all sounds pretty fascinating!”

Unseth applied for the Czech program both because she is interested in teaching at the high school level and because the program is curated to be a blend of language acquisition, cultural education and community participation. “That’s a rather dry way to say that I get to connect with kids inside and outside of the classroom,” Unseth remarked. Another aspect of her job will be developing a community club or program. In Unseth’s case, she is planning to create something around her interests in literature or running.

“I am so proud of Muriel and so excited for her to experience this upcoming adventure in the Czech Republic,” said Laura Stevens, the chair of the Department of English Language and Literature. “As a scholar, a teacher and most of all as a person, Muriel fully merits this award. Fulbright Scholars serve at once in an academic and a diplomatic position, fostering international ties, and I know she will do a wonderful job representing the United States and TU abroad.”

Inspired to learn more

On a personal note, Unseth observed, “my primary field of research in my English MA has been modernist literature and the history of the 20th century, and the Czech Republic is right in the middle of European political and martial conflict, particularly WWII through the Cold War. I’m excited to learn more about their history and culture.”

As she looks back on her studies at TU, Unseth notes that the faculty of the Department of English Language and Literature has inspired her “by the quality of their scholarship, the tenacity of their commitment to humanities education and the kindness and encouragement that has characterized my six years here. I can’t say enough how much I have loved being a part of this community, and how much I admire and respect all the faculty who have made my time here so rewarding. All of my English professors are the coolest people I know.”

Fulbright is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program. As a grantee, Unseth will join the ranks of Fulbright alumni who have become heads of state, jusges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs and university presidents, as well as leading journalists, artists, scientists and teachers. These include 60 Nobel Laureates, 88 Pulitzer Prize winners, 75 MacArthur Fellows and thousands of leaders across the private, public and nonprofit sectors.

A graduate degree in English is an ideal stepping stone to a host of personal and professional opportunities. Discover your path today!