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A Banner Fulbright Award Year: Four Winners and One Alternate

Dunn, DuBois, Mebust, Panara

2017-18 student/alumni Fulbright winnersGENESEO, N.Y. – Two Geneseo seniors, a graduate student and an alumna have been awarded highly competitive U.S. Fulbright Scholarships for 2017-18 to participate in the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program. Another student was selected as an alternate. It’s the largest Geneseo Fulbright class in history, surpassing the three winning and one alternate award in 2015.

Receiving the awards are senior Natalie DuBois from East Aurora, N.Y., who will serve in Germany; senior Erik Mebust from Cooperstown, N.Y., who will serve in Vietnam; School of Education graduate student Kelli Panara, who will serve in the Netherlands; and alumna Kate Dunn ’15, from Katonah, N.Y., who will serve in Malaysia. Dunn’s Fulbright is the fourth for Geneseo to Malaysia. Selected as an alternate for service in Spain is senior Kiaya Rose Dilsner-Lopez from Oceanside, N.Y.

ETA Fulbrighters serve in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to the local English teachers while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. 

“These awards reflect the value Geneseo students place on international experiences as part of the educations,” said Michael Mills, Geneseo’s director of national fellowships and scholarships. “In many ways, the Fulbright is the ultimate Gap Year program as hundreds of young enthusiastic Americans go on cultural exchange programs to countries all over the world to spend a year teaching English, doing research projects of their own design, or going to graduate school. Geneseo's personable and talented students make outstanding candidates for the U.S. Student Program, which involves immersion in a community where they learn about the people, customs, and languages, all the while representing their country.”

DuBois is studying mathematics and psychology at Geneseo. She has served for three years as a teaching assistant, research assistant and tutor in several academic departments on campus including mathematics, psychology and sociology.

“I am greatly interested in the Diversity Program in Germany,” said Dubois. “My interest in minority populations and refugee support programs developed as a result of my work in inner city schools and a refugee support center. The German program description is directly related to my experiences and interest in serving disadvantaged populations.”

DuBois’ future plans include attending graduate school in social psychology, where she will continue her research in minority health disparities as well as improving her teaching skills.

Mebust is studying English literature and economics and his active role at Geneseo is coupled by numerous accolades. Among other recognitions, he is in the Edgar Fellows honors program and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He has had numerous study abroad experiences, including visits to several European countries and China.

“I am excited to use my passion for the English language, honed during my study of English and American literature as well as my time studying in London, to improve understanding between my country and people in another part of the world,” said Mebust. “I will be especially pleased to teach in underserved areas and discover similarities between Vietnamese regional identity and my own. Environmental policy is a very international field, and a deep understanding of political and economic systems and how they affect the environment is necessary. I hope to pursue work in this field, and the chance to improve as a communicator and grow in my understanding of Vietnamese culture, language, and institutions is irreplaceable.”

After his Fulbright experience, Mebust plans to pursue graduate study in public policy or political economy.

Panara ’16 is currently completing a master’s degree at Geneseo in reading and literacy. She received her bachelor’s degree last year at Geneseo in childhood/special education and has been serving this year as a graduate assistant in the Ella Cline Shear School of Education.

“As an ETA, I hope to promote in the students an excitement about exploration, being open minded and creating,” said Panara. “Additionally, I will have a chance to learn a new language and use my educational experience as a reading and literacy specialist to help bring the English language to life through an authentic approach to instruction that emphasizes the power of language in developing relationships and understanding of new concepts and ideas. Learning is a product of experience. The purpose of education is to prepare students for the world outside. The best way to teach a desire for experience is by pursuing it.”

Panara said she hopes to bring new approaches to education with her when returning to the United States, allowing her to develop new interests in support of her students.

Dunn received her bachelor’s degree at Geneseo in 2015 in communication and environmental studies. She currently works as an editorial assistant for the Empire State Development Corporation and has written for numerous environmental/conservation organizations. She had a study abroad experience in the Netherlands in 2014 and is now looking forward to her experience in Malaysia.

“I want to employ my love for education in new fields, support intellectual freedom and foster a deeper understanding of our planet through relationship-building and connectivity, as I have done at home,” said Dunn. “Drawing from my personal travels abroad and endless love for my home country, I aspire to be a representative of the United States and cultural ambassador, facilitating global conservation and group activities that lead to positive social change.”

Kiaya Rose Dilsner LopezAs an alternate for service in Spain, Dilsner-Lopez would be in line to serve if additional opportunities become available. She is studying English literature and Spanish at Geneseo and is both a Presidential Scholar and in the Edgar Fellows Honors Program.

Fulbright winners meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. The program is open to graduating seniors and recent bachelor's degree recipients.

Fulbright U.S. Student awards are among the most competitive grants or scholarships in the country, conferred through the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program, designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries. The program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The awards are granted only to students who have completed their undergraduate degrees. The U.S. Student Program is designed to give recent B.S./B.A. graduates, master's and doctoral candidates, and young professionals, artists and musicians opportunities for personal development and international experience.

In all, 18 Geneseo students or alumni have won Fulbright awards since 1985. More than 360,000 Fulbrighters from the United States and other countries have participated in the Program since its inception in 1946. The Fulbright Program awards approximately 3,500 US Student grants annually. Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

For more information about applying to the Fulbright Scholarship Program, contact Dr. Michael Mills, Director of National Fellowship and Scholarships ( The deadline for applications for the 2018-2019 Fulbright competition is early October 2017, with an on-campus deadline of mid-September. A Fulbright and other post-baccalaureate fellowships workshop is scheduled for April 20th at 2:30 pm in Milne Library, room 104.

Photos: 2017-18 student/alumna Fulbright winners (clockwise from top left): Kate Dunn '15, Natalie DuBois, Kelli Panara '16 and Eric Mebust. Also pictured above is Kiaya Rose Dilsner-Lopez, Fulbright alternate for service in Spain.

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