Kendall Robertson wears a black dress and smiles while standing in a hallway with brick columns and windows behind her.

Bucknellians Earn Scholarships to Advance as Global Citizens

May 30, 2023

by Shannon Sigafoos

After graduating from Bucknell, Kendall Robertson '23 received a Fulbright Scholarship to become an English instructor in Brussels, Belgium. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications

​Four Bucknellians have been accepted into the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which is widely recognized as the country's most prestigious international exchange experience. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright enables American graduate students the opportunity to study, conduct research or teach English abroad via an immersive cultural experience that expands their understanding of the world.

In addition, a Bucknell student has been named a Key Into Public Service Scholar by the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation's most prestigious academic honor society.

Fulbright Recipients

Bucknell's Fulbright recipients were chosen from approximately 10,000 applicants nationwide. They will serve as representatives of the U.S. Department of State in foreign countries during the 2023-24 academic year.

Julia Tokish '22

Portrait of Julia Tokish in her cap and gown

Fulbright Scholar Julia Tokish '22 plans to pursue a career in international human rights law. Photo by Christine Tokish

With their Fulbright grant, Tokish will attend the University of Leicester in England to pursue their master's in human rights and global ethics. Tokish, an international relations, Arabic & Arab world studies, and theatre & dance triple-major from Ramsey, N.J., plans to pursue a career in international human rights law with the goal of working in immigration and displacement.

At Bucknell, Tokish completed three major research projects. Under the mentorship of Professor Meenakshi Ponnuswami, English, and through a four-year Presidential Fellowship, Tokish identified and collected information on first- and second-generation immigrant playwrights of South Asian descent with the goal of creating a database and publishing an anthology of selected plays. Under the guidance of Professor Bryan Vandevender, theatre & dance, their second project involved research on the background context of the musical Fun Home. Finally, her third project, advised by Professor Martin Isleem, Arabic, was an honors thesis entitled Night of the Slaves: A Translation of Social Movements.

"I've always been very interested and engaged in issues of social justice and human rights," Tokish says. "After my first year at Bucknell, I interned at an organization called The Artistic Freedom Initiative, and my interest shifted to a much more personal understanding when I interacted with some of these artists and heard their stories."

Katrien Weemaes '21

Portrait of Katrien Weemaes

Katrien Weemaes '21 serves as an English teaching assistant in Indonesia. Photo by Lexie Corcoran ‘22

Weemaes, an economics and environmental studies double-major from Los Gatos, Calif., will step away from her current position as a government consultant with Deloitte Consulting to travel to Indonesia, where she will serve as an English teaching assistant. Weemaes says she believes her time in Indonesia will inform her ultimate career goal, which is to develop and implement policies and strategies to help communities contend with the consequences of climate change. Indonesia is considered a vulnerable, high-climate-risk country.

At Bucknell, Weemaes' myriad of academic and artistic interests (she also minored in dance and management) inspired her interest in Indonesia, where artistic expression, economic development, community resilience and sustainable innovation are at the forefront of daily life. "Many local communities in Indonesia have persisted through recurring natural disasters, yet grow stronger economically while maintaining rich cultural and artistic practices," she says.

Weemaes says she is grateful for the connections she formed at Bucknell, particularly with supportive faculty members. "They encouraged and challenged me to tackle a variety of academic and artistic endeavors," she says. "I'm extremely grateful for the everlasting connections I made at Bucknell."

Kendall Robertson '23

Kendall Robertson stands in a hallway with brick columns and window behind her.

Kendall Robertson '23 hopes to work in foreign service and contribute solutions to global issues. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications

Robertson will serve as an English teaching assistant in Belgium, a location that appealed to her for its position as a European hub and home to the headquarters of NATO and the EU. Her career goal is to work in foreign service and contribute solutions to global issues such as climate change, human trafficking and the refugee crisis. At Bucknell, the history and French & Francophone studies double-major from Westfield, N.J., focused on courses that amplified marginalized voices. She undertook a research project that entailed compiling an oral history of the Lewisburg Prison Project.

"Through my studies, course choices and research, my ultimate goal is to expand and encourage my and others' empathy," she says. "One of the biggest problems our world faces is the lack of education about others' history and struggles."

She also says Bucknell's interdisciplinary focus and global awareness helped prepare her for her international experience. "The Bucknell French Department provided me with many opportunities that helped foster my love for teaching languages," says Robertson, who studied abroad in France as part of the Bucknell en France program. "I served twice as a French 101 teaching assistant, and was given the opportunity to lead a pilot program teaching French to young children in Lewisburg. These experiences strengthened my skills, cultivated my passion for languages and qualified me for teaching English abroad."

Katharine Cognard-Black '22

Portrait of Katharine Cognard Black

Katharine Cognard-Black '22 is studying Shakespeare and creativity at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. Photo courtesy of Katharine Cognard-Black '22

Cognard-Black, a theatre & dance, English — creative writing, and French & Francophone studies triple-major from St. Mary's County, Md., will pursue a master's in Shakespeare and creativity at the University of Birmingham's Shakespeare Institute in England. Her intention is to continue her graduate training in directing and adaptation by pursuing a Ph.D. or MFA in directing or Shakespeare studies.

At Bucknell, Cognard-Black's research focused on directing, Shakespearian adaptation and devised theatre (when a performance comes together from a collaborative effort rather than a prewritten script). Her senior thesis project, Taming of the Shrew(s), an original adaptation of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, questions how and if Taming may be performed ethically in a post-MeToo era. Her adaptation was performed through the Prison Performing Arts (PPA) project in collaboration with actors from the Women's Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Missouri. "I was honored by the opportunity to collaborate with incarcerated populations through PPA, and as a result of that experience, I hope to continue working with similar programs," says Cognard-Black.

"Learning the techniques of acting, devising and directing under mentors, including Professor Anjalee Hutchinson and Professor Bryan Vandevender, was formative for my understanding and practice of theatre," she says. "Additionally, studying poetry and fiction under English professors Katie Hays and Robert Rosenberg strengthened my skills as a writer and editor."

Ariana Gambrell '23, a psychology and critical Black studies double-major, was named an alternate for the Fulbright-Frederick and Anna Douglass Award.

Phi Beta Kappa's Key Into Public Service Scholar

The Key Into Public Service scholarship recognizes students who have demonstrated interest in working in the public sector and possess a strong academic record in the arts, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences and social sciences. In addition to receiving a scholarship, scholars participate in a conference in Washington, D.C., that provides training, mentoring and networking and provides pathways to careers in government. Only 20 Key Into Public Service Scholars were selected from more than 900 applicants.

Sam Douds '25

Sam Douds wears a blue sweater and gray pants while smiling and standing on a campus pathway with cherry blossoms behind him

Political science and history double-major Sam Douds is one of 20 Key Into Public Service Scholars selected from more than 900 applicants. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications

Douds, a political science and history double-major, hopes to pursue a career as a Marine Corps judge advocate general or a foreign service officer in the U.S. State Department. At Bucknell, he is conducting research on the experiences of incarcerated people in Pennsylvania. "My mentors and support system at Bucknell are relentlessly dedicated to helping me try to make a difference," the Gettysburg, Pa. native says. "I'm looking forward to making the most of my academic career here at Bucknell and embracing my time in this wonderful community. I look forward to connecting with current and future leaders in D.C. and am excited to learn from them as I enhance my understanding and become an agent of change." ​