Five Rice University students/alumni win Fulbrights


B.J. Almond

HOUSTON – (April 27, 2012) – Five current or former Rice University students have received Fulbright Scholarships to study and work abroad in the coming year. The Fulbright Scholarship program is sponsored by the U.S. State Department and allows seniors, recent graduates and graduate students to study, teach and conduct research in a foreign country.

Fulbright scholars are chosen for both their academic merit and their ambassadorial potential.

Rice senior Francesca Schley, from New York, will teach English in Brazil after graduating with a major in history and a minor in poverty, justice and human capabilities. Schley has served as student director for the Rice Women’s Resource Center for the past year, and she has volunteered with a number of organizations on and off campus, including Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

Schley studied Brazilian language and culture at Rice and served as an intern at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy during her sophomore and junior years. She is working on her certification as a Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages through Rice’s Department of Linguistics. Following her Fulbright year, she hopes to enroll in a graduate program geared toward development practice, with a focus on education.

History graduate student Amanda Moehnke, from Katy, Texas, will spend her Fulbright year in Brazil conducting research for her comparative dissertation on the symbolic body in New York City and Rio de Janeiro. Moehnke plans to return to Rice to complete her dissertation and finish her doctoral degree after the fellowship; she also hopes to teach a course at Rice on Brazilian women’s history and gender in Latin American history.

Moehnke said the mentorship of her dissertation adviser, Alida Metcalf, Rice’s Harris Masterson Jr. Professor of History, was invaluable in applying for and preparing for her Fulbright year. Moehnke said she hopes to become a university professor and encourage the development of Latin American history programs.

Former Rice volleyball standout and alumna Tracey Lam said her Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in South Korea will allow her to pursue a dual passion for teaching and language learning. Lam, from San Francisco, was Conference USA’s Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2010 and 2011 and Rice’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year in 2010. She said she also hopes to engage her host community by playing and teaching volleyball to students.

As a Rice student, Lam double majored in economics and Asian studies and captained the volleyball team as a two-time All-America performer. She also worked with the Houston Asian American Archive, was a peer academic adviser and volunteered for tutoring programs, such as the ESL Conversation Partner Program. Lam taught Japanese tutorials with Rice’s Center for the Study of Languages and has studied Chinese, both Mandarin and Cantonese, for nine years, Japanese for 10, Spanish for five and, most recently, Korean for one year.

Alumnus Payton Odom, from McKinney, Texas, will study and conduct international business in Mexico as a Fulbright Binational Business Scholar. Odom, who earned degrees in mathematical economic analysis and political science, helped found the Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees and was a Baker Institute Summer Scholar while at Rice. He has also worked as an evaluations analyst with the Inter-American Foundation in Washington, D.C., and as a consultant with Deloitte. After graduating from Rice, he completed a fellowship in leadership and culture at the Trinity Forum Academy in Washington, and he currently works as a research analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Odom said the Fulbright scholarship offers him a unique opportunity to combine classroom learning, cultural immersion and business experience in Mexico. He said he looks forward to trying out new industries and responsibilities in Mexico and to perfecting his Spanish before returning to the U.S. to attend graduate school in business.

Alumnus Jasdeep Mangat, who is currently finishing his third year of medical school at Baylor College of Medicine, is taking a year off to study medical anthropology in India with his Fulbright grant. He is interested in the experiences and treatment of people with mental illness at the All India Pingalwara Charitable Society, a home for the destitute in Amritsar, Punjab. He plans to examine different variables, from socio-cultural influences to health care access to linguistics, and how each one affects the way individuals experience specific mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and depression.

Mangat, from San Antonio has a B.S. in biochemistry and cell biology from Rice. His parents emigrated from Punjab, and he said the Fulbright Scholarship will allow him to immerse himself in the culture and live in the state his family once called home.

For more information about Fulbright scholarships, visit


Photos for download:

Francesca Schley

Tracey Lam

Payton Odom

Jasdeep Mangat

A photo of Amanda Moehnke was not available.

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its “unconventional wisdom.” With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.