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Lehigh earns prestigious academic honors

Three Lehigh students and a university alumna have been recognized for their academic achievements, with two being named Fulbright teaching fellows and two receiving Goldwater scholarships.

Fulbright fellowships were awarded to Deborah Ou-Yang ’08 and Chelsea Stone ’06, while Andrew Mastbaum ’09 and Jared Maxson ’09 were named Goldwater Scholars in recognition of their undergraduate research in physics.

Ou-Yang will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and Asian studies. Her fellowship will fund a stay in South Korea, where she will teach English to elementary school students. Stone, who graduated with a degree in English and international relations, teaches high school language arts in Miami through the Teach for America program. As a Fulbright fellow, she will teach English in Madrid, Spain.

“It is truly an honor to receive this award,” Ou-Yang said. “I look forward to having the experience of living in South Korea for a year, not only learning about the Korean customs, but also sharing my culture and language with Korean students.”

“I am honored to receive a Fulbright grant and promise to make the most of the amazing adventure that lies ahead of me,” added Stone. “This award means so much to me because I want to master Spanish as a native commands the language, and I want to play an active role in teaching and observing pedagogical practices in Spain.”

Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program is the leading international educational exchange program. Its selections are based on the academic achievements and leadership potential of applicants, who must complete a written explanation describing the projects they would carry out if awarded the grant and write an essay about themselves and their goals.

The program is named for former U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, who believed international education was central to the promotion of “mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries of the world.”

Mastbaum will earn a bachelor’s degree in physics this May and return to Lehigh in the fall for another year of undergraduate study, most likely for a second bachelor’s degree in astrophysics.

He plans to obtain master’s and doctoral degrees and conduct research in physics at either a public or private laboratory or a university.

“It’s quite impressive that Lehigh had two winners, and in the same department,” said Mastbaum, who was with Maxson in the quantum mechanics class they are taking this semester when the winners were announced. “While the immediate benefits are quite nice, in the longer run, having won a Goldwater might help open doors to graduate school and beyond, which I certainly appreciate.”

“An unbelievable honor”

Similarly, after graduating, Maxson will move on to graduate school for a Ph.D. in physics. He plans on a career teaching physics at the university level and conducting research.

“For me, this award is really an unbelievable honor,” Maxson said. “The caliber of research of other Goldwater Scholars is remarkable, and merely to be placed in the same group as them is a joy. Furthermore, this award was intended to encourage aspiring scientists, and for me it has been just that, a great encouragement, a great motivator to keep nurturing my passion for physics research.”

The Goldwater Program was established in 1986 in order to alleviate the shortage of highly qualified scientific researchers by recognizing students who have outstanding potential in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. It is the premier undergraduate award of its kind and offsets the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year for each recipient. The program honors former U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater.

“This is marvelous news,” said Ian Duffy, professor of history and director of the Office of Fellowship Advising. “The awards are extremely competitive, and to win them is a great honor. All four students presented applications that were impeccable and deserve a lot of credit. I hope that this success will encourage other Lehigh students to get in touch with me in order to discuss the possibility of applying for these and similar awards in the future.”

--Tom Durso

Posted on Wednesday, April 30, 2008

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