UC students awarded prestigious global fellowships

University of Cincinnati students awarded nationally competitive awards

In the 2023-2024 academic year, students from the University of Cincinnati received a great variety of nationally competitive awards.

Through these scholarship and fellowship programs, the winners are recognized for outstanding intellectual and personal successes and are offered access to exclusive academic and professional development opportunities.

Announced this spring, the awardees are

  • Solomon Carr, Critical Language Scholarship, Arabic
  • Truman Hutchinson, Japan Exchange and Teaching
  • Evan Lindenberg, Boren Scholar
  • Max Kemats, U.K. Summer Institutes, Scotland
  • Carrie Vennefron, Fulbright ETA, South Korea

In the fall, Lance Entsuah received the Schwarzman Scholarship and Trinity Shaya received the Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship. Olivia Haines and Joyce Zheng placed as Fulbright alternates and Sam Dell placed as a Boren alternate.

“We in NCA consider it a privilege to work with such talented, accomplished and thoughtful students—and we are thrilled to see them receive these awards and gain access to the transformational opportunities they provide,” said Dr. Jenny Hyest, director of UC’s office of Nationally Competitive Awards (NCA).

UC students are distinguishing themselves at the highest levels on a global stage.

Dr. Jenny Hyest, director of UC’s office of Nationally Competitive Awards

Hyest noted that she was particularly proud of UC’s representation in a diverse slate of awards.

“One thing that is striking to me is the particularly wide range of awards our students received this year, ranging from the Schwarzman Scholarship to the Fulbright U.K. Summer Institutes program,” said Hyest. “Plus, we had three alternates, a recipient of the McCall MacBain Finalist Scholarship for graduate study at McGill University in Canada, and another 15 finalists for various awards.”

“UC students are distinguishing themselves at the highest levels on a global stage.”  

NCA supports UC undergraduates, graduate students and recent alumni in applying for major external fellowships, coordinating UC’s nomination processes for awards and guiding applicants through the rigorous processes in the world of prestigious fellowships.

“I hope that other UC students who read about what their peers have accomplished will realize that these awards could be within their reach, too,” Hyest said. “I hope it encourages them to take the step of reaching out to NCA to explore options for themselves.”

Solomon Carr, Critical Language Scholarship

Headshot of UC student Solomon Carr.

Solomon Carr, Arabic language and culture major at UC, will study Arabic in Amman, Jordan | Photo provided

After graduating high school in rural northern Ohio, Solomon Carr didn’t immediately enter academia and worked a few blue-collar jobs. Growing up, he loved to read “One Thousand and One Nights” among other works of classical literature and mythology. Through his teen years, Carr was captivated by social media depictions of Arabic calligraphy and spoken Arabic tutorials online.

After completing an associate degree program, Carr transferred to UC to pursue a bachelor's degree in Arabic language and culture.

“It was a combination of interests, because I would read stories of antiquity and I was living in a community that placed a good deal of significance on this language. It seemed like a very ancient yet alive type of language,” Carr said.

The Critical Language Scholarship will give him the opportunity to travel internationally for the first time and further pursue his studies in Amman, Jordan. The CLS program promotes rapid language gains and essential intercultural fluency.

Carr will spend his three-month experience practicing Arabic, but he is most excited to immerse himself in the culture. He hopes to use his experience to one day be a translator and perhaps pursue more education beyond a bachelor's degree.

“I hope that [the experience] will help in whatever capacity to increase communication and understanding between our very different cultures,” Carr said. 

Truman Hutchinson, Japan Exchange and Teaching Program

Headshot of UC student Truman Hutchinson

Truman Hutchinson, a history major with a minor in Asian studies at UC, will travel to Japan as an assistant language teacher | Photo provided

High school passions led Truman Hutchinson straight into his major, history, at UC. But after taking a variety of coursework, he started to focus on the history of Japan and picked up a minor in Asian studies. During his junior year at UC, Hutchinson studied abroad for a semester at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, strengthening his interests and providing him with practical experience.

“That was one of the best things I could have done while going to UC,” he said. Hutchinson went to the country with no prior knowledge of the Japanese language. “When I went there, I learned [Japanese] so much quicker, I met so many people and I had a great foundation.”

Hutchinson did his capstone project on the Japanese education system in the early 1900s. His project pushed him to apply for the Japan Exchange and Teaching program, (JET) as a path to get back to Japan and continue his studies.

The JET program sends participants from all over the globe to work in schools, boards of education and government offices throughout Japan. JET is the only teaching exchange program managed by the Japanese government, offering a unique cultural exchange opportunity to meet people from all around the world, living and working in Japan.

As a recipient of the JET award, Hutchinson will travel back to Japan as an assistant language teacher. He thinks that it would be interesting to learn about the history of the specific town he will be living in.

“One of the things that I want to do is either write a scholarly article or even a short book about some specific aspect of where I’m staying, whether it’s about a single person’s life, or a small shrine or small festival that they have,” he said.

He hopes to continue working in Japan after the JET program to help bridge cross-cultural differences. 

Evan Lindenberg, Boren Scholar 

Headshot of UC student Evan Lindenberg

Evan Lindenberg, a mathematics major at UC, will study Arabic in Amman, Jordan | Photo provided

This spring’s Boren Scholar Evan Lindenberg traced his interests in other cultures to his experiences with the US military.

Lindenberg is a mathematics major at UC, and outside of school, he is actively involved in UC’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Through the ROTC, he participated in a scholarship program called Project GO, which offered critical language study overseas, including Arabic, Russian and Chinese. Lindenberg chose Arabic and was able to study the language in Jordan.

“I found this passion for language, and I was super intrigued to go back to the Middle East and continue my learning,” he said. “I started looking for opportunities and I found out about the Boren scholarship.”

With the help of some foreign service officer mentors, he tied his interests to his national service and created a winning application which detailed how he would use language in his profession.

“I saw that I received the scholarship, and I was ecstatic because this is a huge opportunity, this was something I’ve been thinking about doing for months on end,” Lindenberg said.

Lindenberg will travel to Amman, Jordan where he will develop valuable skills through learning Arabic in a rich culture overseas. After graduation, he hopes to be commissioned into the Air Force as a foreign service officer.

Max Kemats, Fulbright UK Summer Institute 

Headshot of UC student Max Kemats

Max Kemats, a second-year economics major with a minor in public health and a certificate in innovation and design thinking, will travel to Scotland | Photo by Kathleen Hornstra

Max Kemats is a second-year economics major with a minor in public health and a certificate in innovation and design thinking. It’s an interesting mix for a business major, but Kemats chose this degree path because it gave him the opportunity to explore a variety of fields and disciplines.  

Directly from high school, Kemats was one of the first students to be selected as a NEXT Innovation Scholar. This highly selective scholarship program immerses students in contextual collisions of disciplines, industries and cultures of innovation both inside and outside the university.

Throughout his two years at UC, Kemats has seen local drivers of innovation, but wanted to explore how innovation culture is nourished in other areas of the world. The Fulbright UK Summer Institute in Scotland was a perfect match, offering specific seminars on technology, innovation and creativity in the three-week program.

Kemats received his acceptance for the award on a plane, interestingly, coming back to the US after a global innovation conference in the Netherlands.

“It’s kind of surreal,” he said. “Six months ago, I would have never thought I’d be considered for something like this.”

The holistic approach of the Fulbright UK Summer Institutes, which will take him to the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Strathclyde, gives him another opportunity to see innovative cultures up close. Learn more about Kemats' journey at UC

Carrie Vennefron, Fulbright U.S. Student Program 

Headshot of UC student Carrie Vennefron

Carrie Vennefron, a recent graduate of UC's business analytics master’s program, will be an English Teaching Assistant in South Korea | Photo provided

A long-time lover of Korean culture and history, Carrie Vennefron will cap her multiple UC degrees with a stint as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in South Korea.

In 2020, Vennefron received her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering with a minor in chemistry and a pre-med certificate. Graduating into a pandemic caused her to get creative with her career path and look for unique opportunities.

Vennefron leveraged collegiate work as a teaching assistant for first-year engineering courses to move into software development for a company contracted with the US Department of Defense. She was simultaneously accepted into the business analytics master’s program at UC. But her experiences mentoring students ultimately sparked her curiosity in teaching, particularly on crossing cultural barriers.

“When I did some investigative research on becoming an English teacher in South Korea, blending those passions of being a mentor and also being interested in cultural exchange, there were a lot of different programs available to me,” she said.

Vennefron ultimately decided to apply to Fulbright, a program where she will take on the role of a cultural ambassador. As an awardee, she will help Korean students and faculty to see another side of the U.S. through her lessons, discussions, demeanor and shared experiences.

As an engineer, Vennefron sees the benefits of these multicultural competencies and comprehensive viewpoints.

“I really believe that diversity is a strength,” she said. “Not only diversity of thought, but diversity of upbringing, principles and values really do become relevant in the workplace, community and all aspects of life.” 

Discover what’s Next

The University of Cincinnati prepares students to make a real-world impact.

Find out more about experiential learning through study abroad opportunities and nationally competitive awards

Student interviews by Natalie Ochmann

Featured image at top: Reflection of UC's Arts and Sciences Hall. Credit/UC Creative + Brand

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