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Best friends earn Fulbright grants

jillan casey and julia ward on patio with trees in background; one photo smiling and then the other a blooper

Jillian Casey and Julia Ward, Political Science majors at Elizabethtown College, received Fulbright award notifications for the 2013-2014 school year. Ward, of Coatesville, Pa., will go to Namibia to study gender quotas in cooperation with the Legal Assistance Centre’s Gender Research and Advocacy Project in Windhoek. Casey, of Mountain Top, Pa., will travel to the United Kingdom, a perennially competitive country for Fulbrights, to study international relations as part of a master’s degree program at Aberystwyth University in Wales. She was one of 49 winners from 700 applicants to receive a grant for the UK.

The Fulbright Program, established in 1946 and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the flagship international educational exchange program. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between people in the United States and those in other countries. The Fulbright Program, which awards approximately 7,500 new grants annually, has provided almost 300,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential—with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Approximately 294,000 “Fulbrighters”—111,000 from the United States and 183,000 from other countries—have participated in the Program since its inception. Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

Julia Ward, who will graduate from Elizabethtown College next month with a double major in political science and political philosophy and legal studies, attended the University of The Gambia in West Africa for a semester, studying political science and anthropology. While there, she volunteered for Alliance for Democracy in Africa and as a teacher at the Sheikh Mass Kah Senior Islamic Secondary School. Ward has been a travel correspondent with Reach The World Organization and a presenter at the United States Embassy in The Gambia, the Southern Political Science Association 84th Annual Meeting and the Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Social Research Conference at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa.

She was an intern with the Department of Public Welfare, Department of General Services and the Office of the Attorney General in state government and has been a student research assistant at Elizabethtown.

Ward is a member of Elizabethtown College Honors Program, Pi Sigma Alpha political science honor society, Alpha Lambda Delta first-year honor society and has been a resident assistant in the College’s Office of Residence Life. She also has been a Study Abroad mentor and has served on committees for the College’s Diversity Committee in the Office of Residence Life; the American Cancer Society, Central Chester County Division; and was a Relay for Life, Colleges Against Cancer, committee chair. At Elizabethtown, Ward took part in Mock Trial and Pre-Law Club.

Past awards include Points of Distinction at Elizabethtown College, a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, the James A. Finnegan Foundation Fellowship, a Leader on the Horizon Award, a Dorothy Forney Scholarship, a Presidential Scholarship and the Rotary Club of Coatesville Scholarship.

Ward noted that she always wears a bracelet she bought in The Gambia because it reminds her of her Gambian family—her sisters and mothers—who epitomize strength in the face of tough social adversity and who challenged the gender norms of their culture. Their values, among others, motivated her to pursue a joint master’s and law degree to study international law, with an intended focus on gender relations and human/political rights. The Fulbright grant will provide her with the ideal background necessary to achieve those goals.

Jillian Casey, a political science major with minors in international studies and economics plans to graduate from Elizabethtown in May. Like Ward, she attended the University of The Gambia, where she taught at Sheikh Mass Kah Senior Secondary School and volunteered for Alliance For Democracy in Africa. She has presented at the Southern Political Science Association 84th Annual Meeting and at the Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Social Research Conference. Casey was an intern at PennSERVE and for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. At Elizabethtown she has been a research assistant in Political Science, a student assistant in the Chaplain’s and Admissions offices, a tutor and a Study Abroad mentor. She attended the Foundation For Economic Education “Applying Liberty” Conference, the University Presidential Inaugural Conference and the National Young Leaders Conference.

Casey is secretary of Omicron Delta Epsilon, an international economics honor society, and is a member of the Elizabethtown College Varsity Cross Country, Indoor/Outdoor Track and Field Team, which she serves as captain. She has been a Student Athlete Mentor (SAM) to Cross Country and Indoor/Outdoor Track Team and is past vice president. Casey was an All-Academic in the Middle Atlantic Conference in cross country, indoor/outdoor track and field.

She also has served as president of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, was a student representative to Honors Council, for which she was past fundraising chair, and volunteers with St. Jude’s Parish, the American Cancer Society Relay For Life and Katelyn John Memorial 5K.

Memberships include the Omicron Delta Epsilon, International Economics Honor Society,Pi Sigma Alpha, the Association of College Honor Societies and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society. Casey has earned the Distinguished Service Award at Elizabethtown College, the Presidential Scholarship, the National Merit Scholarship, two Distinguished Student Awards, a Walter B. Shaw Symbol of Service Scholarship Award, the Tom Bowersox Memorial Scholarship and is a James A. Finnegan Foundation Fellow.

Of her teaching experiences in both the United States and The Gambia Casey noted that her experiences with gender research in the U.S. made her passionate about women’s education in sub-Saharan Africa and analyzing how macroeconomic development policies are affecting these opportunities for women. She wants to fight for economic and development policy reform through work with international NGOs or the United States Trade Representative’s office. She hopes her life work will lead her to the ultimate goal of advocating for women in sub-Saharan Africa; to help break down barriers so other women can be afforded some of the opportunities she has been given.

Posted 4/23/2013

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