Tags Posts tagged with "fulbright"


Fulbright scholar and Southern alumna Daisha Brabham, '17, in London

Southern alumna Daisha Brabham ’17, a Fulbright scholar studying for a Master’s of Public History degree at Royal Holloway University of London, has been awarded the Barzun Prize for Youth Engagement, which grants $10,000 to a Fulbright grantee to develop a program that works with youth.

The award — the brainchild of Former U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun and his wife Brooke, with generous funding from them — is awarded annually to fund projects by American Fulbrighters to deliver local community projects while they study in the United Kingdom.

Former Ambassador Barzun said, “The indispensable US-UK bond isn’t a treaty between London to Washington, but is made of millions of caring and committed relationships across the ocean and across generations. Its staying power depends on these ‘sinews of peace’ as Churchill called them, not only on Number 10 or 1600 Pennsylvania.

“Fulbright has for decades helped build and nurture special relationships, one by one, which is why Brooke and I are so proud to support it in any way we can. These award winners take time out of their already busy academic pursuits to make new connections with the next generation, and for that we are so grateful.”

Brabham graduated from Southern in 2017 with a degree in history, and her passion for her discipline, along with her scholarship and creative activity, are taking her far. Her Fulbright project involves a play she wrote for an independent study in the Women’s Studies Program in her senior year. During her senior spring and the summer following, the play — Homegoing: A Herstory of the Black Woman — was performed on campus, and Brabham later reworked the script and produced it on campus again last spring. Homegoing reflects the history of black womanhood in America, beginning with the Yoruba tradition of West Africa and going on to travel with a number of different African American women, such as Venus Hottentot, Billie Holiday, and Mammie.

A scene from Brabham’s play, “Homegoing,” during its spring 2019 production on the SCSU campus

On learning she had received the Barzun Prize, Brabham remarked, “I’m actually speechless. . . . My play has operated on a budget of $200.00, thanks to the amazing community partners of New Haven! Imagine what this play can do with 10,000!”

In London, Brabham is incorporating voices from black Britain into the play as part of her Fulbright project. As a student at Royal Holloway, she has access to the National Archives, the London Records Office, and the Black Cultural Archives.

For her application for the Barzun Prize, Brabham was required to submit a three-minute video along with a written proposal to explain her project, which she calls the Homegoing Internship. The internship will be available to students in the UK during Brabham’s Fulbright year.

As part of this proposed internship, Brabham wrote in her proposal, “Students will embark on a two and a half month journey of developing and producing a two-hour production based on the history of black women. Each student will be assigned a department in which they will complete a total of two workshops run by a local community partner who will serve as an expert during their first month. The second month will involve students producing the play.”

She further explains that the internship’s objectives include: developing leadership skills such as organization, problem solving, communication, and innovation; gaining valuable experience on project management skills such as managing a set budget; gaining an appreciation for historical knowledge, specifically the history of black women; engaging in cross-cultural discussions surrounding the African diaspora and US-UK relations with a historical context; and understanding the importance and value of utilizing local community resources.

Daisha Brabham

Barzun was appointed by President Obama in 2013 as the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James in the United Kingdom. He served in this position for three years and during his time in the UK made it his mission to spend as much time as possible out of London speaking to young people. He engaged actively with the work of the Fulbright Commission, greeting the new American Fulbright Scholars on their arrival in the UK each year. On leaving, he and his wife wanted to give the US-UK Commission a gift that would speak to their time in the UK and create a lasting legacy.

Brabham is grateful not only to be a 2019 Barzun Prize winner but also for all the support she received while a student at Southern, and she credits the university for helping her move forward with her project. She says, “A special thanks to the beautiful, talented and inspiring students who inspired the internship and all the support we have had from The City of New Haven and Southern Connecticut State University!”





"I feel so blessed to have had the support of the SCSU community and the U.S. Department of State, who believed in me and my research from day one." -- Fulbright recipient and Southern graduate Alanna Wagher

A young Dutch girl adorns Alanna Wagher with the colors of the U.S. and the Netherlands, her Fulbright host country. Orange is the color of the Dutch royal family and a symbol of national pride in the Netherlands.

Alanna Wagher, ’16, M.S. ’18, is a gifted scholar. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in communications disorders — then excelled in Southern’s highly regarded graduate program in the same discipline. Still, she admits to being nervous about applying to the U.S. Fulbright Student Program. “There were people who had tons of opinions about the feasibility of me getting this grant, especially considering the notorious cut-throat competition,” says Wagher.

To be sure, “Fulbrighters” are a uniquely accomplished group. Thirty-seven have served as heads of state or government, 86 received Pulitzer Prizes, and 60 were Nobel Prize winners.

Wagher is now a member of the prestigious Fulbright alumni club, having spent the 2018-19 academic year in the Netherlands as a Fulbright scholar through the English Teaching Assistant Program. In addition to teaching, she collaborated with Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences on her research, which was inspired by her experience as a Southern student. Wagher minored in Spanish at Southern and used techniques from the world of speech-language therapy (her major) to correct her pronunciation. She wondered: would others studying a foreign language benefit from similar techniques?

Alanna Wagher, who holds two Southern degrees, presented her clinical findings at a United Nations educational conference in Amsterdam.

In the Netherlands, Wagher tested her theory, working with Dutch students who were studying English as a second language. The goals included evaluating the effectiveness of speech-language therapy techniques at 1) reducing foreign-accented speech and 2) improving students’ comfort and confidence as English speakers. The Dutch students perceived that speech-language techniques were beneficial in both areas. “The study [also] aimed to establish evidence-based standards for the evaluation and treatment of bilingual children with speech sound disorders,” notes Wagher, who presented her findings at a United Nations-sponsored educational conference in Amsterdam.

“I feel really blessed to have been able to research a topic that I hope will benefit bilingual children and adults,” she says. Of course, the benefits of the experience were highly personal as well. “Overall, I think one of the biggest takeaways of this experience has been the importance of believing in yourself, especially as a young woman,” says Wagher. Her advice to other would-be “Fulbrighters”: “I would definitely encourage more students to apply.”

Daisha Brabham

To meet Daisha Brabham is to be immediately swept up in her infectious enthusiasm for history. Brabham graduated from Southern in 2017 with a degree in history, and her passion for her discipline, along with her scholarship and creative activity, are taking her far. She has just been awarded a prestigious U.S. Fulbright – U.K. Partnership Award that will allow her to receive full funding to complete a Master’s of Public History degree at Royal Holloway University of London during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Brabham currently teaches U.S. history and an advanced placement course in human geography at the Engineering and Science University Magnet School, based at the University of New Haven. Previously, she taught for a year at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven.

Her Fulbright project will involve a play she wrote for an independent study in the Women’s Studies Program in her senior year. During her senior spring and the summer following, the play — Homegoing: A Herstory of the Black Woman — was performed on campus, but Brabham has reworked the script and says it is now “an entirely new play.” Homegoing reflects the history of Black womanhood in America, beginning with the Yoruba tradition of West Africa and going on to travel with a number of different African American women, such as Venus Hottentot, Billie Holiday, and Mammie.

Brabham says that originally, the play “was like a physical manifestation of my search for myself.” During her junior year, she studied at the University of Plymouth, U.K., where she became interested in researching the lives of women in Elizabethan England. But then, she says, she realized she was studying women who had already been studied extensively and she was “leaving out women who looked like me.”

She changed her focus to African American women and decided to write Homegoing, but as the play has evolved, it has come to be more about women in the African diaspora around the world. “I am drawing all of these narratives together about what it means to be black,” she says. She sees the play as a celebration of resistance and as bringing to the public “those stories we don’t talk about.”

The play features 10 actresses, the majority of whom are high school students from the Greater New Haven area. Brabham herself is also in the play. A teacher to her core, Brabham wants her students to learn the history of the women they are portraying in the play.

Being a teacher can be confining, she says, due to curriculum requirements, adding that she works in a school where more than half of the students are African American, and she “really wants African American people to know about their own history.” In the play, she uses traditional African modes of communication, such as song, dance, and movement.

Homegoing is now Brabham’s bridge to her future, as she’ll be incorporating voices from black Britain in the play as part of her Fulbright project. As a student at Royal Holloway, she will have access to the National Archives, the London Records Office, the Black Cultural Archives. She also plans to interview some of the women she meets.

“I’m a public historian,” Brabham says, explaining that public history is about bringing historical knowledge to the public in engaging ways, such as museums, exhibitions, documentaries, and theater. This means of presenting history is important, she says, because it makes history accessible. “It lets people learn about themselves,” she says.

Tricia Lin, who served as the faculty adviser/sponsor for Brabham’s senior independent study, wrote in her Fulbright recommendation for Brabham that her project “will be of tremendous contribution to the literature/scholarship on Black womanhood . . . The complex untold stories of Black women is . . . Daisha’s intellectual project—which is truly her calling.”

Darcy Kern, assistant professor of history, who was Brabham’s adviser at Southern, wrote in her letter of support for Brabham’s Fulbright application that Brabham was “the most enthusiastic student I have had at SCSU” and that Brabham “offers a unique, refreshing perspective on women’s history, in part because of her own background.”

Assistant Director of the Office of International Education Michael Schindel, the Fulbright Program Advisor, says that, “Those who have worked with Daisha know that she is incredibly persistent. She is receiving this award after her third attempt at applying for a Fulbright grant. There is only one slot for the U.K. Partnership Award to Royal Holloway University and it is highly competitive.”

Brabham credits the people she worked with at Southern over the years with helping her realize her goals. “The History Department really changed not only my view of the world but also of myself,” she says. “I received such loving, caring feedback, advice on life, etc. – they gave me great advice not only on how to be a historian but also on how to be a good human.”

And the Women’s Studies Program “taught me how to be a good person and not to give up and be persistent and keep going. The confidence they had in me helped me keep going,” she says.

Homegoing: A Herstory of the Black Woman will be presented twice on May 5, 2019: at 12 p.m. and at 6 p.m., in the Garner Recital Hall (Engleman C112). Tickets are $10 with an SCSU I.D. and $15 for general public. Purchase tickets online.

Sebastian Perumbilly, associate professor of marriage and family therapy, is taking his background in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction to India next fall in connection with his selection as a Fulbright Scholar.

Perumbilly, who has been teaching at Southern since 2012, was recently informed that he has been chosen as one of 470 recipients worldwide. He will be hosted by the Department of Psychology at Christ University in Bangalore, India, where he will conduct a qualitative, method-based research project on India’s substance addiction treatment programs.

He will focus on two aspects of those programs – how families can be involved in addiction treatment, and how yoga can be integrated into addiction treatment.

“I was thrilled to receive this most exciting news,” Perumbilly said. “I am excited to immerse myself in Indian academia and research institutions with an intent to collaborate with the best of contemporary India’s addiction researchers from the fields of psychology, social work and medicine. I believe that such an immersion experience will generate more exciting opportunities for educational and research collaboration between our two countries.

“Since the beginning of the new millennium, India’s universities and research-focused institutions have been making significant contributions globally in the fields of engineering, physics, mathematics and medicine,” he added. “Faculty exchanges and research collaborations between India and the U.S.-based academic and research institutions are also increasing. It is becoming clear that India’s clinical researchers and scholars are developing innovative clinical practices — with a multidisciplinary focus — in the fields of psychology, social work, psychiatry and medicine.”

Perumbilly said the Fulbright experience will help him to contribute further in the field of couple/marriage and family therapy, as well as benefit Southern with future study abroad programs for students and exchanges between faculty and administrators from both countries.

“I am grateful to all my SCSU faculty colleagues, students and the administration, especially the provost and president, for their support and encouragement,” he said.

In addition to his work on substance addiction treatment, Perumbilly has conducted extensive research on “moral injury,” guilt feelings encountered by those in the military who were engaged in combat.

He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, as well as a clinical fellow and approved clinical supervisor of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. He has presented 34 peer-reviewed/refereed research projects at national and international conferences, including in India, Spain, Portugal, Scotland and Thailand.