Students Achieve National Honors

Marist's “tendency to go global” results in highly-competitive awards 

This year, Marist College saw numerous students being awarded prestigious honors, ranging from two Fulbright winners, two Goldwater scholars, and more.

Darriel McBride ’17 was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to serve as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in South Africa.

After being the first Marist student to study abroad in Western Samoa and having done homestays in Fiji, Samoa, and American Samoa, McBride stated that she was “inspired” to continue her passion for cultural exchange. She said that Fulbright was the “one opportunity” that she had anticipated applying for since her freshman year at Marist.

“My interest in the South Africa program, in particular, stems from a very personal place,” she said. “I was intrigued by the country’s rich history and current efforts towards social change and education equity. I applied for the Fulbright there to explore my African ancestry while learning more about the unique South African identity in comparison to my own. I wanted to pursue an opportunity that would enable me to make an impact on the lives of my students and the individuals I meet along the way, while expanding and reshaping my world view.”

Samantha Monroe ’17 was awarded the same grant to teach English in Malaysia, and she and McBride made a total of 23 Marist students to receive a Fulbright.  

Pat Taylor, the Graduate School and Fellowship Advisor, said that it’s “not a science” predicting the percentage of how many Marist students will be chosen, but all of the students are “very motivated.” She credits Marist’s high Fulbright numbers to the institution’s “tendency to go global.”

“A majority of these applicants have studied abroad,” Taylor explained. “but some see it as their only way to go abroad.”

This year, there were 12 applicants. She described her role as “orienting them towards the overall mission of Fulbright and how it can meet their goals.” This consists of numerous meetings and editing the applicants’ personal statements. On average, each student has 12 to 17 drafts of their essay, because like Taylor said, “their application has to shine.”

Fulbright was not the only prestigious honor awarded to Marist students this year, though. Alec Lee ’18 and Carolyn Turcotte ’18 were both selected as Goldwater scholars.

Taylor describes Goldwater as “the premiere recognition of undergraduates in STEM fields and show promise in pursuing these fields.” If selected, the students receive $7500 for their junior year and $7500 for their senior year. Out of 1,286 students who were nominated, only 240 scholars were chosen.

With a less than 19% selection rate, Taylor finds it comparable to the global statistics for Fulbright. However, the two grants differ. For Goldwater, the student must summarize their research, personal responsibility, and what additional studies they plan to pursue.

Prior to 2017, only four Marist students were awarded the Goldwater scholarship.

“All of these students who apply have a certain spark,” Taylor said. “When they see how they fit with the opportunity, they are on fire.”

Meanwhile, Elio Velazquez ’18 was named a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Intern for the summer of 2017. “Elio’s a remarkable student,” Taylor said. “That man’s a house on fire. He and I worked 1-on-1 to see policy priorities for the Hispanic population.” As a result, Velazquez’s short essays were about the challenges facing the Latino population, problems within leadership, and finding groups that share these priorities.

Brendon Boldt ’18 was awarded the DAAD Rise scholarship in Germany, which is a first for Marist. This means that he matched with Ph.D. students with similar students, or as Taylor describes it, “names you conjure with.”

As a double major in computer science and philosophy, Boldt has been able to bridge these interests together. Now, he may look at a Fulbright in the UK and the Marshall scholarship. “We’re not done,” Taylor said.


Written by Adriana Belmonte '17

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