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Research 'can influence millions'
College of Ed boasts Fulbright student record
Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012
By Julie Titone, College of Education
Standing, l-r: Antonio Valdivia, Rachael Barouch Gilbert, Rachida Labbas; sitting,
Claudine Anderson, Hafize Sahin.
Claudine Anderson, Hafize Sahin.
WSU draws Fulbright students
from around the world
There are 39 graduate students enrolled at Washington State University thanks to the Fulbright Program for Foreign Students. They come from 27 countries (see map). Colombia is the best-represented, with five students.
The 39 apparently is a record number, said Rob Cassleman, international scholar adviser.
"This is an academic as well as a cultural exchange,” he said. "It is definitely a cooperative effort, with a substantial commitment on the part of our Graduate School. In most cases, the Graduate School provides tuition waivers while the student is on the Fulbright grant. Fulbright typically pays for living expenses, health insurance and travel.”
The students are pursuing master’s and doctorate degrees in a variety of academic disciplines. All but two, as noted on the list below, are on WSU’s Pullman campus. They are:
Jackeline Abad Torres, Ecuador, electrical engineering; Gassan Abess, Sierra Leone, criminology; Dana Hasan Salah Aldweik, Jordan/Israel, pharmacy; Dario Alvarez Miranda, Paraguay, computer science; Carlos Andres Alvarez Vasco, Colombia, chemical engineering; Claudine Odette Anderson, Jamaica, counseling psychology; Anindhita, Indonesia, mathematics;
Rachel Barouch Gilbert, Dominican Republic, educational psychology; Javier Benavides Montano, Colombia, veterinary science; Lilian Carrillo Rodriguez, Colombia, economics; Luis Federico Casassa, Argentina, food science;
Nomatter Chingadu, Zimbabwe, plant pathology; Maria Fedorova, Russia, history; Lyliana Gayoso Gomez, Paraguay, economics; Javier David Guerrero Sedeño, Colombia, electrical engineering; Danny Humphreys, Costa Rica, plant pathology; Sara Humphreys, New Zealand, chemistry; Fainmarinat Inabuy, Indonesia, molecular plant science; Rachida Labbas, Algeria, teaching and learning; Kamkaeo Maneerot, Thailand, literature; Sifiso Mhlaba, South Africa, agricultural economics; Thumbiko Mkandawire, Malawi, crop sciences;
Muhammad Raihan Sharif, Bangladesh, American studies; Lwiindi Mudenda, Zambia, veterinary science; Peter Mugisha, Rwanda, food science; Phineas Nsabimana, Rwanda, food science; Manuel Palaez Samaniego, Ecuador, electrical engineering; Indeira Persaud, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, sociology; Paola Pesantez Cabrera, Ecuador, computer science (WSU Tri-Cities); Bilijana Petrova, Macedonia, food science; Yessenia Liliana Picha Torres, Peru, veterinary science; Hafize Sahin, Turkey, educational psychology; Tri Komala Sari, Indonesia, immunology; Jerome, Sebadduka, Uganda, earth and environmental sciences; Gaunette Sinclair-Maragh, Jamaica, business administration;
Filip Stankovikj, Macedonia, biology and agricultural engineering; Wafa Tarazi, Israel/Palestine, health policy and administration (WSU Spokane); Daniel Toro Gonzalez, Colombia, economics; Juan Antonio Valdivia Vazquez, Mexico, educational psychology.
See an earlier article and video about Fulbright scholars and students at WSU here. (The story reports 40 Fulbright students, rather than 39. One dropped out during the first semester)
PULLMAN, Wash. - The Fulbright Program for Foreign Students, funded by the U.S. State Department, is sponsoring 39 graduate students at Washington State University this year. That’s likely a record number, university officials say.
Five of them are at the College of Education – apparently the most Fulbright students any WSU college has enrolled at once.
Associate Professor Brian French is delighted by the diverse perspectives they bring to the college. He’s even happier about the potential impact of their work.
"These young investigators are building an education research agenda that can influence millions of people,” he said.
French directs the Learning & Performance Research Center, where Ph.D. students Antonio Valdivia of Mexico and Hafize Sahin of Turkey work as research assistants. The other Fulbright students in education programs are Claudine Anderson of Jamaica, Rachida Labbas of Algeria and Rachel Barouch Gilbert of the Dominican Republic.
Valdivia and Sahin chose WSU because it’s a good place to study psychometrics, a field mostly involved with creating and validating questionnaires, tests and personality assessments.
Valdivia is in his third year at WSU. His main research interest is examining the validity of assessments administered internationally - for example, U.S. graduate school admission tests.
"In another project at the center, we’re assessing critical thinking tests - using data from Korea, China, Turkey and the United States - to see if critical thinking is measured similarly across cultures,” he said. "Personally, I’m also working with Mexican universities to adapt emotional intelligence tests to the Spanish language.”
Sahin is a first-year Ph.D. student. Before coming to WSU, she was a test specialist and guidance counselor at a research center in Istanbul.
"I had a chance to work with children from different cultural backgrounds and realized that the tests we used weren’t best for all of them,” she said.
She wants to work for an international organization. Under terms of the Fulbright, she’ll return to Turkey for at least two years after earning her degree.
Learning along with faculty
Sahin praised the College of Education faculty’s level of engagement, a sentiment echoed by the other students. "I feel very involved with what my professor is doing,” she said. "That’s a really good feeling.”
Barouch Gilbert, a master’s degree student, said she feels her adviser, Assistant Professor Olusola Adesope, is learning alongside her.
"At first I called him ‘Dr. Adesope,’” she said. "Now, it’s ‘Sola.’”
Barouch Gilbert is in the educational psychology program. She’s looking at ways to help teachers like those who taught her in the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean country where bilingual schools are common.
"I’ve noticed that teachers in bilingual schools seemed stressed and burned out. There’s a lot of turnover,” she said. "I’m researching what motivates teachers to stay or to leave.”
It’s important research, said Adesope. "Considering the high turnover of teachers in many countries, this is timely work that has huge implications.”
Studying resiliency, equity
Anderson, a doctoral student in counseling psychology, is focusing on emotional strength.
"What I find interesting is that most people who are exposed to violence typically recover,” she said.
When the Kingston native arrived in Pullman last semester, she was excited to discover a faculty expert in resiliency, Associate Professor Lali McCubbin.
A self-described overachiever, Anderson plans to continue her career of university teaching, counseling and community interaction. She likes the education faculty’s emphasis "on perfecting your craft. We’re more guided than told what to do.”
Labbas, a veteran high school and college English-language instructor, started the Ph.D. program in language, literacy and technology in fall 2011. She is looking for ways to bridge the gap between Algerian classroom teachers and university educators.
Since coming to WSU, she said, "I’ve started to ask questions not only about research, but about myself. The Fulbright has changed my life.”
The benefit is mutual, said Assistant Professor David Cassels Johnson: "Rachida’s insight into the very complicated sociolinguistic situation in Algeria is unique to our program and benefits all of us who are interested in issues of language diversity and educational equity.”
It’s not Istanbul
The Fulbright students report that their immersion into life in rural Eastern Washington has involved both culture shock and nice surprises.
The lack of big-city distractions makes Pullman a good place to study, Sahin said. She noted that the city of 30,000 could hardly be more different than Istanbul, a Middle East megalopolis of 18 million: "I could write pages, articles about this!”
Added Barouch Gilbert: "Everyone’s nice here. It’s clean, it’s decent, it’s safe. These are things that are awesome about Pullman. The only thing I consider a drawback is it doesn’t have a beach.”
Despite the lack of sand and waves, she recommended the WSU College of Education to her brother. Abraham Barouch Gilbert is now an educational psychology doctoral student.
Valdivia likes the fact that people in Pullman are proud of the university and make students feel supported.
He recalled flying into the city for the first time. It was night and he was taken aback when the pilot said to prepare for landing – and there weren’t any lights below.
"For the first two or three months, this seemed like an isolated place,” said the Monterrey native. "But after living here for two years, when I go to see family in Mexico, there’s a point when I want to go back home to Pullman.”
For more information, see:
Fulbright Program for Foreign Students