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UM graduates win prestigious scholarship to study abroad

Three University of Montana graduates earned Fulbright Scholarships to study abroad this year.

The scholarship sends each student to one of the 140 countries in the world for further education.

Emma Simuns will study social work in Italy, Elizabeth Wrzesinski will work as an English teaching assistant in Taiwan, and Sophia Wilder will study coastal communities in Iceland.

100 UM students and alumni have been named for the award.

The University of Montana sent the following:

Three University of Montana graduates were given the opportunity to conduct research or teach abroad this year after receiving the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.

The Fulbright US Student Program sends each student to one of 140 countries around the world to further their education. Program participants pursue university study, research and teach English abroad, while expanding their perspectives through academic and personal advancement, as well as through intercultural dialogue. More than 100 UM students and alumni have earned Fulbright awards in 50 different countries around the world.

“The UM graduates selected this year all had a strong commitment to their field. They have made a difference on campus or in the Missoula community,” said Kylla Benes, director of the UM Office of External Scholarships and Fellowships. “UM’s emphasis on experiential learning, combined with world-class education, sets our candidates apart from prestigious fellowships such as the Fulbright.”

Emma Simuns of Missoula will study social work in Italy as a Fulbright scholar. Simuns, who completed her master’s degree in social work this spring, will work with social impact organizations to research the impact of programs in southern Italy while she enrolls in the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Catania. When Simuns returns, she plans to share her findings through presentations at Missoula Works, a local social enterprise organization, and through the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund, a national social enterprise accelerator program.

Elizabeth Wrzesinski of Bozeman will work as an English teaching assistant in Taiwan with support from her Fulbright Scholarship. Wrzesinski, who graduated this spring with a media arts degree in digital filmmaking, will gain professional experience that will support her goal of becoming a professional filmmaker. The experience of teaching in Taiwan is also personal for Wrzesinski, who was adopted from China and is eager to reconnect with her heritage. Wrzesinski plans to leverage her Fulbright experience to create screenplays and films that feature diverse stories from people from different backgrounds.

Sophia Wilder of Lolo earned her Fulbright Scholarship to study coastal communities and regional development in Iceland. Wilder, who earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies this spring, declined the Fulbright Prize and will pursue a Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz. During her time at UM, Wilder earned a WA Franke College of Forestry and Conservation Scholarship and Franke Sustainability Fellowship. She also received an Experiential Learning Scholarship three semesters in a row.

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