CSU students receive prestigious Fulbright Awards

2022 Fulbrights From CSU

Jenna Biedscheid (left), Keelan Kenny and Natalie Montecino have received grants from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Colorado State University is sending three of its own abroad as part of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the State Department’s flagship international exchange program.

Jenna Biedscheid, Keelan Kenny and Natalie Montecino each received a grant from the State Department and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards approximately 2,000 grants annually for select students to travel abroad to conduct research or teach English as a way to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Since 2015, 21 CSU students have been selected for the prestigious program.

Jenna Biedscheid

Jenna Biedscheid

College of Health and Human Sciences

Jenna Biedscheid, a recent graduate of the College of Health and Human Sciences, will be traveling to Nepal this summer to conduct research involving migrant workers. Biedscheid explained that some Nepali citizens serve as contractors to support U.S. military operations.

“My research will uncover the lived experiences of Nepali third-country nationals who have returned to Nepal from employment with American defense contractors,” said Biedscheid. “This research will shed light on their stories and expand public awareness of their experiences from their perspective.”

Biedscheid, who graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in social work, studied abroad in Nepal as a student and completed a virtual international internship placement through the School of Social Work, with the Law and Policy Forum for Social Justice based in Kathmandu.

Biedscheid, who is from Fort Collins, explained that being named a Fulbright is the pinnacle of her academic experiences at CSU, noting that she had worked several years to achieve the goal.

“It means a lot,” she said. “When I first went to Nepal in 2018, it was something that I wanted to work toward. It’s still unreal to have it actually come to fruition.”

After completing the Fulbright, Biedscheid, who plans to go to law school, said she wants to publish her research in a peer-reviewed journal and remain engaged in public discourse to further expand awareness of the topic.

“Congratulations to Jenna on this outstanding award. Through support from the Fulbright grant, her international research in Nepal will positively impact many lives. We’re so excited for Jenna to have this experience and look forward to hearing more about her innovative project.”

— Lise Youngblade, dean, College of Health and Human Sciences

Keelan Kenny

Keelan Kenny

College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
University Honors Program

Keelan Kenny, a senior in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is heading to the United Kingdom to study infectious diseases as part of a master’s degree program at the Royal Veterinary College in London.

Kenny explained the Fulbright will build upon her growing experiences in public health. She has held internships with the National Environmental Health Association and USDA-APHIS and has experience working with underserved communities such as the Navajo Nation.

Kenny, who is graduating in May with a degree in Biomedical Sciences and Environmental Public Health, said she originally had planned to attend veterinary school. However, her experiences at CSU led her toward the “One Health” paradigm, viewing health at its nexus of human, animal and environmental health.

“Your journey doesn’t have to be linear for your dreams to work out. I wish I could tell my younger self to embrace, instead of brace against, change,” said Kenny, who is from Salt Lake City. “Getting a Fulbright is quite an honor. It’s definitely a reflection of all of the support that I’ve gotten at CSU.”

Following her 10-month master’s program in London, Kenny said she plans to work for an underserved community’s local public health department and ultimately hopes to serve at the federal or international level informing health-centered policy that benefits those who have been previously excluded from the public health conversation.

“Keelan, congratulations on being named a Fulbright scholar – arguably the most prestigious and competitive student exchange program in the world. You join a long list of poets, artists, composers, authors, engineers and scientists. The list does of course go on, but what is common across all of these fields and disciplines are the students that truly are the next generation of leaders. You will have an incredible experience in the United Kingdom and will shine as an outstanding ambassador of our College and our University.”

— Colin Clay, interim dean, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Natalie Montecino

Natalie Montecino

College of Liberal Arts

Natalie Montecino’s passion for storytelling will take her to Japan to conduct an ethnographic study of town identity to reveal resiliency efforts that utilize tradition in Yakage and Maniwa, two rural towns in Okayama Prefecture.

Montecino, an undergraduate in the College of Liberal Arts, said she decided to undertake this investigation because while the entirety of Japan is struggling to navigate declining birth rates and an aging population, rural towns and villages are especially vulnerable to loss of vitality and eventual abandonment.

“Both Yakage and Maniwa have been successful in harnessing the power of local identity and tradition, developing into resiliency models for rural communities across Japan,” she said. “However, the extent to which these rural success stories have been shared on a larger scale is limited.”

After completing the Fulbright, she intends to enroll in graduate school to pursue a rural development graduate degree. “While maintaining a focus on Asia, I want to continue exploring how community identity relates to the environment and what that means for rural resilience efforts in countries like China or South Korea who are facing similar challenges to Japan,” she said.

“Natalie has demonstrated her abilities and initiative not only in the classroom but in her prep work for this Fulbright by writing stories for the College and throughout Colorado. Her work with ASCSU, her presentation at the International Symposium, and her efforts to seek out opportunities to learn and grow her skill set show her commitment to understanding and sharing the human experience. We are proud of Natalie’s contributions to the College and to the community, and we wish her the best as she pursues her research project in Japan.”

— Ben Withers, dean, College of Liberal Arts

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Since its inception, more than 390,000 people have participated in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Graduating CSU seniors, alumni and graduate students interested in applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program should contact Mary Swanson, program director of the Office for Scholarship and Fellowship Advising, at mary.swanson@colostate.edu.