Joel Vargas ’14 wants to be a “filmmaker of conscience” who entertains his audience in an ethical and meaningful way. He has a great opportunity to further prepare for that through a Fulbright Scholarship to study in London.
He’s among five Lafayette graduates who have received the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to live, work, and study abroad, including Madeline Gambino ’14, Adam Gill ’14, Caitlin Lowery ’10, and Michael Pinkard ’14.
While pursuing a master’s degree in documentary filmmaking at the University of the Arts’ London College of Communication, Vargas also plans to work with community-based organizations in south London as a mentor for at-risk youth. He is excited to teach them the fundamentals of filmmaking and help them find their voices as storytellers to challenge social injustice.
“As a product of the margins, I have encountered many places, voices, and perspectives that have been neglected,” says Vargas, who graduated Saturday with an A.B. degree as a double major in film & media studies and international affairs. “I want to shed light on the stories at the periphery, to advocate for the marginalized through my filmmaking and art, and have my work act as a catalyst for positive social change.”
Vargas won a Beinecke Scholarship last year that will help fund his graduate education. He also received a Humanity in Action Fellowship to travel this summer to Warsaw, Poland, where he will study how minorities are portrayed in the media and how media can manipulate audiences. Awarded to 42 students from the United States, the highly competitive fellowship brings together international students and recent graduates to explore different national histories of discrimination and resistance to injustice, as well as examples of contemporary issues affecting minority groups.
Gambino, who graduated with majors in history and religious studies, will begin a master’s program in religion and society this fall at the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen, Scotland. She plans to use her Fulbright year to enhance her skills in anthropological and sociological methodology and theory as she continues to explore issues of immigration, religious identity, diaspora, and assimilation in immigrant communities.
Gambino, who plans to earn a Ph.D. in religious studies, completed a joint honors thesis on Easton’s Lebanese Maronite community in which she analyzed the way its members spoke about their community, church, and immigration experiences. She first began exploring oral histories of immigrant communities during a semester abroad in Morocco where she studied sub-Saharan African immigrants practicing Christianity in the capital city of Rabat.
Pinkard, who graduated this May with a B.S. in mathematics, will begin master’s degree studies in geometric analysis at the University of Tüebingen in Germany. Geometric analysis allows him to blend his love of math and physics while also studying how the world works.
Pinkard plans to stay in Germany to complete his master’s and Ph.D. degrees, but also hopes his future will include music. He was part of Lafayette’s Creative and Performing Arts (CaPA) Fellowship program for jazz and saxophone performance. Vargas (film) and Gambino (creative writing) also were CaPA Fellows.
Gill, who graduated this May with majors in history and economics, declined a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) award to South Korea in favor of traveling to Japan through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. Administered by the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations, JET promotes grassroots international exchange between Japan and other nations. Gill will begin work as an assistant language teacher in August.
An English and Spanish graduate, Lowery declined a Fulbright ETA award to Colombia after accepting a full-tuition Global Health Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in public health at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. She recently returned from a two-year Peace Corps assignment in Dimi, Georgia, where she taught English and supported women’s health and education initiatives.
For information on applying for scholarships and fellowships, contact Julia A. Goldberg, associate dean of the College, (610) 330-5521.