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San Diego State University

Office of International Programs

Reflections and Advice

Claudia Santana (ETA 2012-13, 2013-14 Colombia)

Claudia Santana is a two-time Fulbright winner.  She graduated from SDSU’s class of 2013 with a B.A. in Psychology.  She is an EOP alumni and a current Fulbright scholar.  In her first Fulbright experience she served as an English Teaching Assistant for ten months in Bogotá Colombia.  


Claudia states that “during this past year, I have learned many things about Colombian culture and about myself. I have traveled around the country and had the opportunity to expand my professional network with people from a variety of disciplines from all over the world. I am truly seeing the fruits of this program's goals to build and strengthen bridges between the US and the rest of the world. The cultural exchange makes this experience an amusing and enriching one in many respects.”


In Claudia’s second term she will serve as a Senior ETA.  Her duties will include assisting with program coordinator and organization of events that will benefit the incoming cohort of Fulbright ETAs.  She will also be a mentor to the next group of ETAs in addition to teaching at the Universidad Minuto de Dios in Bogotá.  She is very excited to embark on a new cycle of the Fulbright grant program in 2014-2015.  


Claudia welcomes prospective Fulbright applicants to contact her.  She is more than happy to answer any questions applicants may have about the program.  


Leah Bremmer (Research 2010-11 Ecuador) 

The Fulbright grant gave me the unparalleled opportunity to spend 10 months living, traveling, and working on my dissertation fieldwork in Ecuador.   My research broadly examines the socio-economic and ecological dimensions of emerging Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs in highland Andean grasslands (páramos).  Páramos are native high elevation grasslands found between 3200 m and the snowline across the South American Andes range from Venezuela to Peru. In addition to their high levels of endemic biodiversity, these grasslands are increasingly valued for the role that their soils play in regional water regulation and in carbon sequestration.  Accordingly, a new national-scale PES program, Socio Páramo, offers private and community landowners up to $30 per hectare to conserve their páramo.


My dissertation research, more specifically examines how Socio Páramo is affecting local land use and livelihoods in páramos throughout Ecuador and how promoted land-use changes affect the targeted ecosystem services of carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation. The social component of my fieldwork included traveling from the Colombian to the Peruvian border talking with participants in Socio Páramo and interviewing program representatives at the regional and national level. Participants shared stories of their struggles to obtain land tenure and to protect their páramos as a critical water resource, and also described how their land use practices and livelihoods had changed with participation in the program.  The ecological component of my research consisted of hiking around at 12,000 feet and conducting soil and vegetation surveys in three areas of Ecuador to understand how land use affects biodiversity and carbon storage in these highland grasslands.  Overall, my Fulbright experience was an amazing experience both professionally and personally as this program provides a unique experience to conduct research in a new culture while also forming life-long connections and friendships.


Linda Richardson (Research 2010-11 Spain)

Saludos desde España! I can't believe how quickly my year with the Fulbright program has gone by. Since September 2010, I have had the fortunate opportunity to study Flamenco dance in Sevilla, Spain.  My experiences as a Fulbrighter have been nothing short of amazing as I spend each day completely immersed in Flamenco and have access to the world's most prominent Flamenco instructors.  I have learned a great deal about this wonderful art form as well as the rich culture in Andalucía.


This spring, I had the opportunity to present my research topic, Flamenco: A Vital art form, at the European Fulbright conference in Berlin.  I also gave a public performance in Sevilla last month. This Summer I will conduct Flamenco dance workshops in California, Arizona and Colorado before going back to Spain to continue my studies.


I would advise the future Fulbright applicants to start conceptualizing and writing their proposals and personal statements as early as possible. I was able to write both documents fairly quickly but spent several weeks editing and fine tuning.  To all applicants in the creative arts, it would be to your advantage to submit the highest quality sample of your work. I invested a large amount of money for a professional quality video of my dancing and do not think I would have received the grant had I provided a home video or a lower quality video.


Jolie Colby (ETA 2010-2011 Indonesia)

I am writing you from my beautiful air conditioned office at the Islamic boarding school where I work. I just came home from a weekend in Jakarta for a national competition with the US Embassy. I took the winner from my region to compete. She didn't win but it was a great experience for her. She had never visited her country's capital. We stayed in a 5 star hotel and had dinner at the Ambassador's house, which included a cameo from Agnus Monica (Indonesia's Britney Spears). After the competition at "@America" we took the students bowling, and visited the national monument and mosque. It was a wonderful experience. I am always feeling overwhelmed and grateful for this Fulbright experience--this chance to really uncover the most fascinating aspects of cultural exchange. The ETAs are taken very good care of in Indonesia. I think it is because we work so hard at developing new programs in our area. Instead of doing personal research we get to make changes and help development. With two weeks left of my grant, I am happy to say I accomplished my goals of starting green programs in schools, and working with government officials to pass laws and recruit a team to clean the city. I feel like my students and community members are inspired and will now have a better relationship with the earth, English and the USA. I will go home with far more confidence and knowledge to make similar change happen in my home of California. This was one of the best things I have ever done.

Spring 2020 Information Sessions


Due to state orders, sessions and advising will be done online. Sign up to begin the online process.

SDSU Fulbright Advisers

Nancy Marlin Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology
Provost Emerita  


Edith Benkov Ph.D.

Professor of European Studies  

image of Dr E Benkov