Researching ground water in Panama, improving trumpet skills in Switzerland and learning Japanese in Japan. That’s what three current or former Oklahoma State University students will be doing next school year after recently being named Fulbright or Boren Scholars.
“Oklahoma State's remarkable international legacy includes a track record of students taking their expertise and creativity around the world,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “We congratulate these latest scholars and wish them all the best as they represent OSU and our nation.”
Adrian Saenz, 25, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2016 and a master’s in biosystems engineering last December. He works for the Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha, Nebraska, and plans to research groundwater while living in Panama City, Panama.
“This award is my opportunity to conduct research abroad, to nurture mutual understanding and build networks, and to represent my community while inspiring others to follow their dreams,” said Saenz, who grew up in Oklahoma City but whose family comes from Mexico. “The project I am going to be working on is focused on building a network of groundwater wells in the country’s driest region with the goal of creating a robust model that will provide real-time information on the water resources of that area. A secondary focus is the feasibility of well monitoring networks like this for applications in other areas of the country — ultimately serving as a tool for better water resource management in Panama.”
Noah Mennenga, 22, of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, will graduate this spring with a bachelor’s in music performance with trumpet focus.
The nationally and internationally seasoned performer is OSU’s other Fulbright Scholar. He was awarded a research grant to study under two mentors in Lucerne, Switzerland, where he will focus on preparing for international competitions.
“I’m excited to learn about the culture both in music and outside of music,” Mennenga said. “It will be so different than my four years at OSU, which have been super formative both musically and academically through all my teachers and ensembles.”
The yearlong Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is an international educational exchange program aimed at creating mutual understanding for participants from more than 150 countries. Participants are eligible to teach English, attend graduate school, conduct research or work on a scholarly project.
Boren Scholarships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provides funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. As an initiative of the National Security Education Program, Boren Scholars are obligated to work for the federal government for one year after completing the program.
OSU geography professor Dr. Dale Lightfoot is the adviser for the Fulbright and Boren programs.
“The reason I do both of these in tandem is because both Fulbright and Boren are channeled through the Institute for International Education office in New York City,” Lightfoot said. “More than 30 OSU students have been named Fulbright Scholars in the past 15 years, and Jeremy is our first Boren Scholar in at least 13 years.”
Jeremy Hicks, 24, an OSU sophomore from Owasso, Oklahoma, who is pursuing a degree in agriculture education with a minor in Japanese, is excited for the opportunity to be fully immersed in the Japanese culture.
“I was in disbelief when I found out,” he said.
Hicks will be taking courses at Shinsu University in Matsumoto, Japan.
“I hope to improve my communication abilities,” he said.
Upon returning home, Hicks, who is a sergeant in the Oklahoma Army National Guard, plans to continue his military service and become an FFA instructor as well.
“I would like to traverse back and forth (between the U.S. and Japan) and integrate each other’s technology and knowledge to better teach students,” Hicks said.
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