UIC announces students, alumni offered Fulbright awards for 2021-2022

Four students and alumni from the University of Illinois Chicago are among a select group of U.S. citizens offered the opportunity to study, conduct research and teach abroad for the 2021-2022 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

For the 2021-22 competition, UIC had 10 semifinalists, with four of those chosen as finalists and two named alternates.

“To have 10 semifinalists, finalists and alternates is no small feat, and it shows how UIC students are on par with the best in the country. We are extremely proud of all of our applicants, especially after such a difficult year,” said Benn Williams, fellowships and awards coordinator in the Graduate College and Fulbright Program advisor for graduate students.

This year’s UIC-affiliated finalists are:

Dr. Greg Klazura, a 2018 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Medicine and current student in the master’s in public health program at UIC, was selected for a research program in Uganda that has been temporarily delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Should the program’s status change this fall, he will spend approximately six months in Uganda performing a quality improvement project and formal evaluation of the Pediatric Emergency Surgery Course and its impact on patient outcomes.

“In Uganda, there are seven pediatric surgeons. There should be roughly 200 given its pediatric population. As a way to address this unanswered burden of surgical disease, Ugandan and international faculty created and delivered the Pediatric Emergency Surgery Course,” he said. “The course aims to improve referral patterns to tertiary centers for complex pediatric surgical conditions and also improve surgical capacity in rural areas for pediatric surgical disease that do not require a referral.”

Klazura believes the Fulbright experience will benefit his ongoing research focused on improving access to surgical care in low resource settings and his professional interests in global, trauma and pediatric surgery.

“The Fulbright provides me a wonderful opportunity to form closer relationships with Ugandan health care providers, apply the lessons from the Global Medicine Program at UIC and my current master’s in public health program, network within the global health community, and learn from the incredible Fulbright network,” he said.

Klazura, a native of Rockford, Illinois, earned a bachelor’s degree in pre-professional studies from the University of Notre Dame.

Suvidya (Suvi) Pachigolla, a medical student at the UIC College of Medicine at Peoria, earned a nine-month Fulbright research position at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland, where she will research risk factors for developing a complication called radiation necrosis following radiation therapy for brain cancer in children.

During the 2020-2021 academic year, she held a mentored research training position at Washington University in St. Louis, where she earned a master’s in clinical investigation. Pachigolla, who received a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering from UIC in 2017, teamed with her mentor, Dr. Perry Grigsby, to build a deep learning model to correlate magnetic resonance imaging with treatment failure.

“Fulbright will help to further develop and apply the textbook knowledge of research I have gained thus far along my education journey. Additionally, I am looking forward to learning more about cancer therapy. Exposure to the Swiss health care system will also greatly broaden my understanding of delivery systems,” said Pachigolla, a native of Schaumburg, Illinois.

While scheduled to complete medical school in 2022, she plans to pursue specialty training in radiation oncology while also becoming an academic physician.

Nicoletta Rousseva, a UIC Ph.D. student in art history, will conduct nine months of research in Belgrade, Serbia, where she will expand her research on contemporary art in former Yugoslavia through institutional affiliations and archives at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade; the Museum of Yugoslavia; the National Museum of Serbia; and the University of Belgrade’s department of art history.

“For this project, I turn my focus to publications, works on paper, and paintings by Yugoslav avant-garde artists active in the 1920s and 1930s,” she said. “I’m thrilled to have so much time to conduct archival research at the country’s leading institutions.”

Rousseva, a native of Folsom, California, who received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art history at the University of California, Davis, says the Fulbright opportunity will allow her to complete her dissertation but also help to prepare her for a career teaching and researching at a public university.

“Nine months of research in Belgrade will deepen my understanding of modern and contemporary art in the region, and provide a unique opportunity to immerse myself in Serbian language, art and culture,” she said.

Coraima Yanez, a 2021 UIC master’s graduate in community health sciences with a concentration in global health, has accepted a Fulbright English teaching assistantship, or ETA, to teach in Calahorra, Spain. Her 10-month program is scheduled to begin in September and will be based at IES Valle del Cidacos, a secondary school in the country’s La Rioja region. 

“Being a native bilingual speaker myself, and a first-generation student, I look forward to making space for trust and growth and pushing my students’ learning beyond the confines of the classroom. I’m also looking forward to experiencing life in rural Spain, as I grew up in a rural town (Tribune) in western Kansas,” said Yanez.

Yanez, who received a bachelor’s degree in life sciences and a minor in Spanish from Kansas State University in 2019, plans to pursue a career in the global health sector. 

“Through Fulbright, I will not only be able to participate in cultural exchange and teach English in the ways that helped set me up to where I am today, but I will also have the opportunity to build relationships and engage in conversations that will continue to prepare me for a career in public service,” she said.        

Mirielle Nauman, a Ph.D. student in pharmacognosy; and Mona Zubi, a 2021 graduate in public policy and minor in Russian, were named alternates for the program.

UIC-affiliated applicants named Fulbright semifinalists based on recommendations by the program’s national screening committee include Joanna Dobrowolska, a Ph.D. student in history; Jazmin Juarez, a 2021 graduate in Latin American and Latino studies; Kamryn Martin-Giacalone, a 2021 graduate in biological sciences and political science; and Suhaib Qasim, a 2021 graduate in neuroscience. 

Fulbright advising at UIC is split between Kim Germain of the Office of External Fellowships, or OEF, and the Graduate College, where Williams teams with Lindsay Marshall in administering internal funding competitions and in providing comprehensive assistance to students and alumni of the Graduate College who seek outside fellowships and awards. OEF provides advising and assistance to current undergraduate and professional school students in finding and applying for a range of nationally and internationally competitive fellowships, scholarships, and grants.

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