Two recent Westmont graduates have received prestigious Fulbright Scholarships to teach overseas for nearly a year, and another young alumna has earned a foreign affairs fellowship. Hugh Grant-Chapman ’18, a political science graduate, will teach in Taiwan, while biology graduate Alexa Mogck ’18 will work in Malaysia. Both are part of programs that place grantees in schools overseas to supplement local English language instruction and to provide a native speaker in classrooms. Alumna Sophia Meulenberg ’15, who earned a degree in political science and won the Faculty Scholarship Award for the highest cumulative GPA, is one of 30 selected as a Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow.
Grant-Chapman will live on the island of Kinmen, which is about 100 miles away from the main island of Taiwan but is still under Taiwanese jurisdiction. The island, which has a population of about 120,000, has a long military history. “My responsibilities including leading English classes to elementary students at a local school and helping design activities and curriculum,” he says. “I’ll also engage in community activities and may do some independent research on my own.” He will be in Taiwan from Aug. 1 through July.
“I’m most excited about simply being in another town and country again,” he says. “Other than my two semesters studying abroad through Westmont, I’ve lived in Santa Barbara my whole life. I’m excited to immerse myself in a culture and community different than that of Santa Barbara, California, and the U.S.
“The island I will live on is small and close-knit, and communites are apparently strong. I look forward to improving my Mandarin-speaking abilities and getting to use them on an everyday basis. Additionally, Kinmen’s military history and proximity to the mainland Chinese city of Xiamen will afford many opportunities to explore my surroundings.”
Mogck will teach English in Malaysia, running some extra-curricular camps and/or clubs, and getting involved with the local community in whatever way she can. Her 10-month program begins January 1, 2019. “I’m definitely most excited about starting my professional career in one of the most diverse regions of the world, where there is vast human and biological diversity,” she says. “I’m excited to be a part of the community, getting to know the students, the local organisms, and the rich history surrounding me.
“As a biology major and anthropology minor, I am incredibly stoked to learn, grow and experience completely new things while also drawing on the tools that Westmont has given me.”
Meulenberg will receive two years of financial support for graduate school, as well as mentoring and professional development to prepare for a career in the foreign service. She will complete a domestic internship at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., and an overseas internship at a U.S. embassy before working for the State Department upon graduation. Sophia will attend Georgetown University in the fall to complete her master’s degree in foreign service. She served with the Peace Corps in Senegal for the past two years.