Record Number of Mason Students, Alumni Win 2008 Fulbrights

Posted: August 25, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Rosa Glenn with Kyrgyz family
Rosa “Rosella” Glenn, a global affairs alumna who is studying for a master’s in public and international affairs, will soon travel to Tajikistan on a Fulbright Student Award to work with USAID and other nongovernmental organizations in the region. She posed with a Kyrgyz family, above, on a previous trip.
Photo courtesy of Rosa Glenn

By Nick Walker

This year, 1,450 Americans — six of whom are Mason students or alumni — will travel abroad through the U.S. Fulbright Student Award.

The number of Mason scholars winning the Fulbright award continues to increase. One Mason scholar was selected in 2006, and three in 2007.

Joe Bruss
Joe Bruss
Photo courtesy of Joe Bruss

One of the winners is Joe Bruss, BA Geography ’02, who also holds a master’s degree in international law from University of Reading, England.

Bruss has left for the Netherlands on his Fulbright award to consider Amsterdam as a model for equitable development and green urbanism. This is Bruss’ third trip to Amsterdam.

“In the U.S., there’s a lot of concern over the gentrification of cities — especially in the rebuilding of New Orleans, which has such a similar geographic landscape as Amsterdam,” says Bruss, who currently works at the Environmental Protection Agency in land revitalization. “Equitable development is a tool that can benefit local communities.

“Amsterdam is one of the greenest and most humanistic cities where there is a very clear nexus between issues of social justice and environmental protection,” Bruss continues. “They keep a lot of history, and I’m looking to see how they address urban development and management.”

A second Mason graduate, Rosa “Rosella” Glenn, BA Global Affairs ’06, is working on a master’s in public and international affairs.

Next month, Glenn will travel to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, to work with USAID and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). She will also visit the provinces of Leninobod, Mukhtori and Khatlon.

“Many Tajik men are seeking work in Russia [because of] increased employment opportunities,” Glenn says. “The trouble is that some never return home [because they are] either building a new life in Russia with new wives, succumbing to death or becoming incarcerated. In any case, they leave their wives without income.”

Glenn, who is currently residing in Germany with her husband, a U.S. Army colonel, and two sons, expects to live in Heidelberg, where her husband is stationed, for the next three years.

Upon her return from Tajikistan, Glenn intends to continue her education while working for the U.S. government in Germany. She eventually plans to earn a PhD in political science and become an expert in Central Asian affairs.

Nicole Goodrich
Nicole Goodrich
Photo by Evan Cantwell

Another Fulbright winner is Nicole Goodrich, a current PhD student in Mason’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR). She will travel to Sierra Leone to perform field research for her dissertation and volunteer work for two NGOs. Leaving in early September, she expects to be there through next June.

“I’ll be looking at gender violence during the civil war there and trying to determine predictors of the use of sexual violence in a civil-political war context. I hope to interview male and female survivors of the war — both perpetrators and survivors of sexual violence — and listen to their commonalities.”

Goodrich will also be volunteering for NGOs in the cities of Freetown and Bo, where there is a lack of medical care for women who have genital injuries resulting from childbirth or sexual violence.

“I’ll also travel around the community; try to build relationships and trust. I know there will be days that will be challenging, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Goodrich has master’s degrees in international peace and conflict resolution and in social science education. She previously taught public school in Atlanta’s inner city.

Idil Izmirli
Idil Izmirli
Photo courtesy of Idil Izmirli

In January, Idil Izmirli will be traveling to Crimea, Ukraine, on her Fulbright scholarship. In addition to winning the scholarship, which she applied for independently, Izmirli is also the recipient of the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Award for 2008-09.

Izmirli, MA Sociology ’99, is currently working on a PhD through ICAR.

In Ukraine, she will be closely watching the ongoing Russian conflict with Georgia in addition to attending to her regional research on the peninsula.

“With the recent Russian attack, the Ukraine is in danger too,” Izmirli says. “I’ll be investigating the dynamics of the conflict, especially in Crimea, which differs from the overall Ukraine.”

Over the past five years, Izmirli has conducted research and taught courses in Crimea. In 2005-06, Izmirli was awarded the International Research and Exchange Board Individual Advanced Research Opportunities Grant.

In addition to teaching, Izmirli has collaborated with Crimean local and regional NGOs to lead workshops on media, culture and immigration in the Ukraine. Some of her work is featured in the book “Migration, Homeland and Belonging in Eurasia” by Cynthia J. Buckley and Blair Ruble.

Lena Mualla
Lena Mualla
Photo by Evan Cantwell

Lena Mualla, another Fulbright recipient, graduated in May with a BA in Government and International Politics.

Recently, Mualla left for Surabaya, the second-largest city in Indonesia, to teach English as a second language (ESL).

“I wanted to be an English teaching assistant in Indonesia,” says Mualla. “I got placed in a high school and will be teaching 10th grade.”

Mualla’s interest in teaching came during her time at Mason.

“I became really interested while I was a peer tutor at the Writing Center,” Mualla says. “The following year, I got a business fellowship to work with a professor here, and following that I worked in the adult ESL center.”

Upon her return from her Fulbright trip, Mualla plans to attend law school.

Afra Saeed Ahmad
Afra Saeed Ahmad
Photo by Evan Cantwell

Yet another Mason alum who received the Fulbright scholarship is Afra Saeed Ahmad, who graduated in May with a degree in psychology and a minor in Islamic studies.

Ahmad will be leaving for Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates(UAE), to conduct research.

“I’m trying to understand the attitudes Muslims have toward seeking psychological help,” Ahmad says. “To deal with psychological issues, often people would rather go to a religious leader and pray instead of being seen by a psychologist. Is that a stigma, or a cultural difference? I’ll be looking at this during the 10 months in UAE.”

Last summer, Ahmad began corresponding with Fatima Al-Darmaki, a professor in Al-Ain who is already working on similar research and will serve as Ahmad’s mentor.

“Dr. Al-Darmarki was concerned the current analysis used western measures,” Ahmad says. The two will work together to find a better way to analyze the varying viewpoints of Muslims.

While at Mason, Ahmad was president of Psi Chi, the psychology honor society, and president of the Psychology Student Diversity Affairs Committee. She also completed the psychology honors program.

When she returns from UAE, she plans to apply to the psychology PhD program at Mason.

Several of the students credit Deirdre Moloney, director of the Fellowships and Undergraduate Apprenticeship Program; Jeannie Brown Leonard, now director of the BIS program; and others in the office of Student Academic Affairs in helping with their applications.

For more information on applying for Fulbright scholarships and other postgraduate fellowships, contact Moloney at 703-993-2917 or

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