Imelda Marisol Rivas Diaz in front of a U of M signImelda Marisol Rivas Diaz says exploring new academic challenges and cultures led her to the Fulbright program. Photo credit: ​​Courtesy of Imelda Marisol Rivas Diaz

Promoting cultural and academic exchange

Fulbright students support CEHD’s international and diversity efforts

THE U.S. FULBRIGHT PROGRAM has promoted cultural and academic exchange through its various grants for over 75 years. The program provides awards to approximately 8,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals each year from the United States and 160 countries. Fulbright is unique in its binationalism and noted for its merit-based selection process and academic prestige.

CEHD recognizes the unique role of Fulbright students in contributing to our internationalization efforts and commitment to diversity. Through CEHD’s International Initiatives office, the college supports departments with Fulbright student recruitment and, once enrolled, these students have access to unique opportunities, such as the CEHD’s Fulbright Conference Award and Annual Fulbright Dean’s Lunch. Our commitment to welcome and support Fulbright students has positioned CEHD as the college with the highest number of sponsored students.

Devina Christianti is a Fulbright scholar from Indonesia and recently earned a master’s degree in educational psychology. “As someone who has grown a passion for education, I am always interested in how people learn and what we can do to make people love learning,” she says. “I am grateful for my Fulbright experience because it has given me an opportunity to broaden my perspectives, meet people from around the world, and learn from experts who share the same passion.”

She says that not only has she learned a tremendous amount from her instructors and colleagues in her program, but the chance to connect with other Fulbrighters and the CEHD international student community has been a valuable learning experience.

Devina Christianti graduating
Devina Christianti is all smiles after earning a master’s degree in educational psychology.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Devina Christianti

“Studying abroad has helped me develop empathy toward people across cultures and the challenges they have in implementing education,” she says. “Upon my return to Indonesia, I hope that the knowledge, life experience, and perspectives I gained during my time in the U.S. will help me to become more thoughtful in designing learning and producing more collaboration with educators and students to nurture the love of learning.”

For Imelda Marisol Rivas Diaz, her career goals were always oriented toward the field of teaching, more specifically teaching English as a foreign language in her home country of El Salvador. To achieve her goals, she enrolled in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) master’s program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. 

“My desire to explore new academic challenges, personal growth, new cultures, and live firsthand abroad experiences led me to apply to the Fulbright scholarship,” she says. “The Fulbright program is a lifetime opportunity.”

In addition to her studies, Rivas Diaz found ways to give back. She worked as a graduate teaching assistant in the Minnesota English Language Program in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. She also found ways to introduce others to her heritage as part of the Culture Corps at the U. “I was placed as a Spanish language and cultural consultant in the Department of Spanish,” she says. “During this great experience, I was able to share the wonderful culture of my country.”

Yulian Segura is a PhD student in culture and teaching in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “The reason that brought me to this program has to do with the fact that I am convinced of the power of education to positively change the lives of people, especially those historically marginalized, and I am a living example of this,” he says. “I am also aware of the challenges posed by the prevailing forms of power, not always visible but with explicit effects on the development of educational processes that have even led us to be accomplices of our own domination.”

Yulian Segura sitting in a chair
Yulian Segura is at home in his U of M attire. Photo credit: Courtesy of Yulian Segura.

Receiving a Fulbright has greatly aided Segura in the pursuit of his dream. “Fulbright is an example, in every sense of the word, of what people can achieve when they work together for the common good,” he says. “I have looked to Fulbright as an ally in my efforts to generate positive change through education in historically marginalized sectors.”

Juan Jose Palos is enrolled in the MEd in physical activity (PA) and health program in the School of Kinesiology. Before receiving his Fulbright, he had already finished his undergraduate studies at the Autonomous University of Madrid and was working as a personal trainer for people with disabilities and health problems. Additionally, he was doing research on the promotion of PA and health through new technologies. 

“My professional career is based on fitness, wellness, and coaching,” he says. “I’m in the process of becoming an international life coach who helps people achieve their health and wellness goals through a holistic and personalized approach based on scientific evidence.”

Jose Palos’ dream is to create a more active and healthier world. He wants to bring people closer together through the countless benefits that come with taking care of the body and mind. “Without a doubt, the Fulbright, the University of Minnesota, and CEHD are helping me achieve this dream,” he says. 

Juan Jose Palos next to a Minnesota Welcomes You sign
Juan Jose Palos accepts Minnesota’s welcome. Photo credit: Courtesy of Juan Jose Palos

The months that Jose Palos have been at CEHD have been the most intense, exciting, stimulating, and enriching of his entire life, he says. “I’m amazed at how much I’ve grown in this time, how well I’ve adapted to this new lifestyle, and how efficiently I’ve managed to solve all the problems and challenges that have come my way,” he says. 

Jose Palos says he feels very lucky to be a part of the Fulbright family. “The Fulbright Program’s mission is to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship,” he says. “And that is precisely what we Fulbright scholars do; we transmit our knowledge and our culture while we learn, experience, and meet new people during our stay abroad.”