April 12, 2019

Three Catholic University students have been awarded Fulbright grants to fund research overseas, including two undergraduate students and one doctoral candidate. Seniors Claire Christensen and Cara Duffy have been awarded English Teaching Assistantships while Jon Paul Heyne, a doctoral candidate in History, will be continuing his dissertation research in Jerusalem.

Doctoral Candidate Jon Paul Heyne reading a book“Winning three Fulbright grants in a single year is an unprecedented achievement for Catholic University,” said Jennifer Paxton, clinical assistant professor of history and director of the Honors Program. “It is a sign that our commitment to a rigorous exploration of the liberal arts with a focus on research is paying off, for both our undergraduates and our graduate students. It is also a testament to the quality of mentorship at Catholic.”

Christensen, a politics major from Lakeville, Minn., with minors in Hispanic studies and Islamic world studies, will be working in a primary school in the northern region of Spain called La Rioja.

“As a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, my role is to support English language teachers and provide native language skills,” Christensen said. “The goal of the project is to help students see themselves reflected in the literature and gain excitement for learning English, which will help to facilitate cross-cultural exploration in the future.”

Duffy, from Massapequa Park, N.Y., is also a politics major, with minors in Hispanic Studies and philosophy. She will be teaching English and working on an afterschool program for girls in Mexico.

“I am most looking forward to getting to know our neighbors to the south,” she said. “There are often misconceptions about Mexico that we see in the media. With so much discussion about the border, we often forget that there are people on the other side of it. These prior judgments create missed opportunities to learn and grow with our neighbors in the south.” Duffy said she plans to attend law school after her trip in order to study immigration law and advocate for beneficial immigration reform.

The fellowships will enable doctoral candidate Jon Paul Heyne to continue research for his dissertation, “The Franciscans of the Holy Land: Religion and Politics of the Mediterranean in the Age of Queen Sancia,” under the supervision of History Professor Katherine L. Jansen.

“I am extremely grateful to God for the opportunity these fellowships will give me to delve more deeply into the lives of my historical subjects,” Heyne said. “I would like to thank all of my professors and fellow graduate students for their incredible guidance and support throughout the past several years. These awards are theirs far more than they are mine.”

“These students were successful due to a combination of their own talent and hard work and the sound advice they received from faculty and advisers throughout the application process,” said Paxton. “The whole University has reason to be proud.”

The Fulbright Scholar Program, administered by the Institute of International Education and the U.S. Department of State, is an international educational exchange program designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

— Andrew Morgan, B.A. 2019, Marketing and Communications Intern. For more information, contact communications@cua.edu.