Marist's Newest Fulbright Winners

Seniors will head overseas to teach and study through prestigious national scholarship program

POUGHKEEPSIE– Two Marist College seniors have been awarded Fulbright scholarships to study and teach overseas for nine months.

Heather Ayvazian, a digital media major, with a minor in photography, from Franklin, MA, will travel to Malaysia in January to teach English to middle or high schools students. Philip Lopez will use his Fulbright starting in August to teach English in Vietnam, the country where he spent the spring semester of his junior year. Lopez is a dual major in business administration with an emphasis on emerging economies and political science/public affairs. He is minoring in global studies. Heather Ayvazian

The Fulbright is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those 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 155 countries.

The grant provides for plane tickets, housing, and a stipend. Heather and Philip are the 10th and 11th Marist students or graduate to receive the highly competitive Fulbright since 2003-04. This year, they were among 9,424 applicants for 1,824 awards.

Heather is already an experienced traveler and teacher; in summer 2011 she volunteered in Ghana for three weeks, teaching children through the organization Ghana ACT (Alliance for Community Transformations). She spent a semester of her junior year studying and volunteering as an English teacher in Florence, Italy, through Marist Abroad. This summer, after graduating from Marist, she will return to Ghana for five weeks.Philip Lopez

Ultimately, Heather hopes to put her digital media skills and passion for teaching and travel to work for a nonprofit with an international focus. She looks forward to traveling to Asia for the first time as a Fulbright scholar.

Philip will fulfill his wish to return to Vietnam, where, during his junior year, he took classes on the language, economy, culture, politics, and environment of the country through Loyola University College at Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities. He also taught English at the university. When not in class, Philip volunteered with a nongovernmental organization, Helping Hand Saigon, where he led English classes for young children. He spent his spring break visiting Cambodia and later traveled to Bali, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, and Nepal.

Lopez was originally inspired to travel by his family. His father taught English in Japan, and his sister did biological research in Ghana. His long-term goal is to work for a multinational company, non-governmental organization, or U.S. government agency in a position involving global travel.