Success & Impact

2021 Fulbright Semifinalists Announced, Plus Catching up with 2020 Fellowship Winners

by Erin O'Boyle

Christina Photiades sitting on a water fountain in front of a building in Spain.

Christina Photiades '20, winner of the English Teaching Assistantship in Spain

Keys to the Article
  • Eight Saint Joseph’s students were named Fulbright semifinalists for 2021.
  • Christina Photiades ’20 won the 2020 Fulbright scholarship to Spain. Despite setbacks, she was able to start her teaching assistantship earlier this year.
  • Alexander Manduca ’22 won the 2020 DAAD-RISE STEM Fellowship to conduct research in Germany. His trip was canceled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, but he was able to complete research back in Philadelphia. He'll have his work published this year.
  • Devin Yingling ’22 was awarded the 2020 St. Andrews Fellowship to Scotland, where she would have spent her junior year abroad. After the pandemic hit, she was able to postpone her fellowship for her postgraduate studies.

Saint Joseph’s University is excited to announce the Fulbright semifinalists for 2021. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides funding for outstanding college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals and artists to teach English, conduct research or study abroad for one academic year. Mark Reynolds, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and director of the Office of Fellowships, says, “this year saw a record number of applicants, over 17,000 apply for the award nationwide,” making this year a particularly competitive one. The following eight St. Joseph’s students have been selected as Fulbright semifinalists:

  • Amanda Adinolfi ’19, International Relations - English Teaching Assistant, Bulgaria
  • Claire Berger ’21, Chemistry - English Teaching Assistant, Vietnam
  • Carly Calhoun ’21, English and International Relations - English Teaching Assistant, Malaysia
  • Claire Fitzgerald ’21, Spanish and Communications - International Education Master’s in Digital Media, Spain
  • Maddelyn Guerke ’21, Spanish and International Relations - English Teaching Assistant, Mexico
  • Veronika Nemeth ’21, Spanish and Education - English Teaching Assistant, Spain
  • Carly Netting ’21, Linguistics and Education - English Teaching Assistant, The Netherlands
  • Sophie Page ’21, Political Science - English Teaching Assistant, Slovak Republic

Winners will be announced between March and June.

As we celebrate the Fulbright semifinalists, we also checked in with the 2020 winners of three prestigious fellowships. Although their awards were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been able to make alternate arrangements, including delaying their program start dates and taking on exciting research opportunities here in Philadelphia.

Christina Photiades ’20

English and Secondary Education double-major, Spanish minor
Fulbright Program: English Teaching Assistantship, Asturias, Spain

Recent alumnus Christina Photiades always knew she wanted to be a teacher. However, it wasn’t until she came to St. Joe’s, where she had “incredible Spanish professors,” that she decided to pursue Spanish as a minor. During her time on Hawk Hill, she also took on leadership opportunities as executive treasurer for Kappa Delta Pi, an international honors society, and she served as an RA on campus for three years. In her junior year, she was nominated for the Fulbright scholarship by Sunita Sharma, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of teacher education, and submitted her application just in time for the October deadline. 

Photiades learned she had won the English Teaching Assistantship for Spain in April 2020, but she soon received word that the program would be shortened (and then delayed) because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally in the fall, Photiades learned that she’d be able to start her program in January 2021. 

After receiving the negative COVID-19 test required for entry to Spain and spending two weeks in quarantine in Asturias, Photiades began her Fulbright journey, teaching at a school in a small Spanish town. “I help the English teachers and lead English classes,” she explains. “I also assist in classes that aren’t English, but are taught in English. For example, a science class may be taught to the kids in English, so I’m there to assist the teachers and help explain things to the children.” 

Her neighbors and colleagues have been very patient and welcoming, and encourage her to use Spanish even when she feels unsure about her proficiency. “They all tell me they’re so happy I’m here, but they’re sorry I’m here now,” she says, referring to the timing of the pandemic.

Photiades will be in Spain until June 2021 and she hopes to teach in a city school when she returns to the U.S.

Alexander Manduca ’22

Physics major
DAAD-RISE STEM Fellowship, Germany

Alexander Manduca was drawn to St. Joe’s for the small physics department. He knew he would receive a personalized education from dedicated professors who would help him pursue his passion in astrophysics. He was even able to partake in research at the University of Pennsylvania in the experimental cosmology lab, where they study the early universe.

During his sophomore year, he applied to the DAAD-RISE STEM fellowship. The fellowship would allow the winning student to spend a summer researching in a lab in Germany. Manduca was excited about the opportunity and was accepted to a laboratory at the University of Bonn, where he would work on the ATLAS Experiment. 

“It’s part of the Large Hadron Collider – the world’s most powerful particle accelerator,” he explains. “It’s a large complex machine, the largest in the world. We would accelerate the particles, make the particles fly at each other really fast, make them bump into each other and explode, and then we learn the mysteries of the universe.”

Manduca found out he won the fellowship in March 2020. Although he was excited, he had an inkling he would not be able to go. “When I found out I won, COVID was raging in Italy,” he says. “I figured by summer, it wouldn’t be a surprise if [the fellowship] was canceled.”

When he officially learned of the cancellation, he admits he was disappointed, but the disappointment was short-lived. He was able to continue his research at UPenn, and continued on his own project that he’d been working on for two years, which pertains to the development of star cameras to be used for telescope attitude determination. He also had all his lab equipment from UPenn shipped to his apartment so he could work remotely. Two of his projects will be published soon, and Manduca has intentions to apply for future fellowships.

“I applied to the Goldwater scholarship, which is the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in math, science and engineering,” he says. He also applied for the Boren Award, both through the Office of Fellowships. The results of both will be announced in the coming months. Ultimately, he would like to earn his Ph.D. in astronautical engineering with the goal of building spacecrafts.

*On Mar. 26, Manduca won the Goldwater STEM research scholarship. He is the first physics major and the 10th St. Joe's student to win this national undergraduate research award since it started in the mid 1980s.

Devin Yingling ’22

Political Science major, English minor
St. Andrews Fellowship: University of Glasgow

Devin Yingling started writing for The Hawk student newspaper during her freshman year. She wrote columns, met people on the staff, and is currently a news editor for the publication. She also works at the Writing Center, is a secretary for Hawk Hub and a general member of the Women’s Leadership Initiative.

Toward the end of her first semester of college, one of her instructors, Lisa Baglione, Ph.D., a political science professor, mentioned in an email to Yingling that she would like to nominate her for the St. Andrews Fellowship. Provided by the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia, this fellowship is designed to foster relations and understanding between the United States and Scotland through a year-long student exchange program.

After an interview process for which she was prepared by a faculty committee, Yingling was chosen as one of four Philadelphia students to receive the fellowship.

She chose to attend the University of Glasgow, one of the four university options in Scotland. Originally, the fellowship was for her entire junior year. However, because of COVID-19, the program had to change.

“We could take our junior year as a gap year, and the next year we could take our junior year abroad,” she explains. But that would have meant graduating a year later. “Or, we could do our senior year abroad, or a postgraduate year abroad.” Yingling says she’s really enjoying her time at St. Joe’s, so she ultimately decided that a postgraduate year abroad would be the best and  safest option.

Yingling is excited about the amazing postgraduate programs the University of Glasgow has to offer and wants to continue her political science and international relations studies. “A lot of the postgrad programs offer courses like global peacemaking and diplomacy, and global policy,” she says. “I want to do something along those lines.”

Students can learn more about fellowships opportunities by contacting Mark Reynolds at mreynold@sju.edu.