UNL Fulbright count up to 6; journalism students to Slovakia, Brazil

Released on 05/05/2010, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., May 5th, 2010 —
Karalynn Brown
Karalynn Brown
Jesse Starita
Jesse Starita

Two more University of Nebraska-Lincoln students have been named prestigious Fulbright scholars -- among as many as eight at UNL this spring.

Karalynn Brown of Omaha, a news-editorial and English major who will graduate in August, and Jesse Starita of Lincoln, a 2006 broadcasting graduate, applied in October 2009 and heard the announcement in late March.

Brown's teaching assistantship grant will take her across the globe to Trencin, a city in northeast Slovakia beginning in September, and Starita will spend nine months in Campo Grande in Moto Grosso do Sul, Brazil, beginning in March.

Brown will spend about two-thirds of her time teaching English to high school-age students and the rest researching the Roma ethnic group, often referred to as Gypsies. She said she decided she wanted to further her study of central and Eastern Europe after traveling to Estonia during the spring of 2009.

"I studied human rights and the transition from Soviet systems to democracy," Brown said. "I really loved it." She was fascinated with the contrasts in the former Soviet Union to the new western outlook. There was a lot of nostalgia for the old system but a sense of looking forward, as well, she said.

"That's when I became convinced I was going to apply for a Fulbright," Brown said. When she's not teaching English, she will work with one of the organizations involved in the Decade of Roma Inclusion, an initiative that aims to integrate the Roma population into society and increase participation in socio-economic welfare, she said.

While in Estonia the first time, Brown began thinking about education systems and the purpose they can serve to assimilate ethnic minorities into society. This is the core of her research proposal.

Brown's future is still undecided, but this trip will help her clarify, she said.

"It is also why I applied for a teaching assistantship and not a full grant," Brown said. "I'm considering research and teaching at the university level. Also, I'm considering international journalism, so I think this will provide me with a better context for understanding ethnic conflict in the rest of the world -- something we have a grasp on in America, but not on the same level as the rest of the world."

Starita will research the development and production of sugarcane ethanol. Starita's research will also involve establishing a communication channel for Nebraskans and Brazilians interested in ethanol production.

"I feel comfortable with communication and broadcasting, so I want to give people who are interested a chance to form an online community to share," Starita said. The online community will be in blog format. Starita said anybody will have the opportunity to make posts and participate in a running commentary.

Starita became interested in applying for a Fulbright grant after the journalism job market slowed.

"It is still tough for community-oriented radio, which has been my focus post-graduation," he said. "I wanted a chance to work around the community-radio experience and wanted to work in a more exotic location." He originally traveled with the Partners of the Americas program to Brazil in the end of 2008. This experience left an impression and fueled his desire to return for research.

Starita focused on similarities between Nebraska and Mato Grosso do Sul in research for his Fulbright proposal. Both are large ethanol producers, trying to find the best source for alternative fuel.

"Because the states have similarities, they have similar ways to tackle the problem," he said. "Part of what I want to do is investigate 'where is the best source of ethanol?'"

Starita explained that the three main sources for biofuel are corn, sugarcane and next-generation, a hybrid of materials that sometimes include algae. He said right now people have such a "righteous way of communicating" the latest research in alternative fuels, so he wants to make these issues more approachable to the average person. Starita said he would like to do something with clean energy combined with a media model after he returns from Brazil. His blog will make the research fun and interesting.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and founded in 1946, the Fulbright program provides funding for students, scholars, teachers and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. The flagship international educational program sponsored by the U.S. government, the program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries.

WRITER: Jessica Simpson, College of Journalism and Mass Communications