Eight Holy Cross Students, Recent Alumni Receive Distinguished Scholarships

The highly-competitive Fulbright and Knight-Hennessy scholarships showcase the talent of Holy Cross students

College of the Holy Cross students and alumni have earned an impressive array of scholarships this year from prestigious organizations, including the Knight-Hennessy Scholar Program and the Fulbright Program.

These honors are testimony to the astonishing intellectual curiosity of Holy Cross students, the transformative power of faculty mentorships, and in many cases, the world-expanding view of taking part in a study abroad program.

Find some highlights from this year's winners below.

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Knight-Hennessy Scholar Program

The Knight-Hennessy Scholar Program was founded in 2016 to support and fund graduate students at Stanford University. Every year, high-achieving students from around the world receive full funding to pursue any graduate degree at Stanford, including the D.M.A., J.D., M.A., M.B.A., M.D., M.F.A., M.S., and Ph.D. programs, as well as joint- and dual-degrees. Knight-Hennessy Scholars is the largest fully endowed scholars program in the world.

Chris Puntasecca ’19 was among the 67 Knight-Hennessy scholars named this year, receiving an award that will fund his M.D. at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Excluding the leadership training component, which includes extensive summer travel to Brazil, the award is worth approximately $450,000.

Chris Puntasecca '19

Chris Puntasecca '19, from Wayne, New Jersey, will spend the next four years at the Stanford University School of Medicine. A chemistry and classics double major at the College, Puntasecca also served as the captain of the track and field team.

"Receiving this scholarship will give me the chance to pursue a career in medicine without having to make decisions based strictly on financial constraints. I plan to pursue research in global health while in medical school, and I think the Knight-Hennessy program will provide me unique opportunities to do so."

Puntasecca is most looking forward to engaging with the other scholars, who come from very diverse backgrounds.

"Meeting the other recipients who come from around the world and are involved in different academic programs, I hope to establish connections and develop a broader perspective that will help me to effect change in my field down the road."

Fulbright Scholarships

Seven students and recent alumni have been awarded Fulbright grants to teach around the world during the 2019-2020 academic year. Since 2005, Holy Cross students have received 102 Fulbrights, placing the College consistently among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars at the undergraduate level.

This year’s recipients are headed to Taiwan, Belarus, Germany, India and Ecuador.

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and established in 1946, is widely recognized as the most prestigious international exchange program in the world. The highly competitive grants are awarded on the basis of academic merit and professional promise.

Each year approximately 1,900 grants are awarded through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which offers opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching in more than 140 countries worldwide.

This year’s recipients are:

William Griffin '19

William Griffin '19, from Cheshire, Connecticut, will spend the next year in Germany. There, he will serve as an English teaching assistant in North Rhine Westphalia. A German and international studies double major at the College, Griffin studied abroad in Germany during his junior year.

"At Holy Cross, I took various courses in European politics and international relations and, of course, German. Those courses were the ones that really got me into international relations. As a teaching assistant, I hope to lead discussions about complex social and political issues that affect both German and American societies."

When he returns from his Fulbright, Griffin hopes to join the foreign service and serve in the State Department.

Claire MacMillan '19

Claire MacMillan '19, a chemistry major with a minor in German from Ridgefield, Connecticut, will also call Germany her home for the next year, where she will teach English in Bavaria.

"I've studied German since sixth grade, and I'm excited that the Fulbright will give me the opportunity to go back to Germany and round out my career of studying German. I plan to apply to medical school after the Fulbright, and I hope to incorporate teaching into my medical career, so I am looking forward to teaching in Germany."

Elisaveta Mavrodieva '19

Elisaveta "Lisa" Mavrodieva '19, from Gainesville, Florida, is spending the next year in Vitebsk, Belarus, teaching English at the Vitebsk State University. An anthropology and studio art double major, Mavrodieva was born in Russia and spent the summer of 2018 in Volgograd conducting ethnographic field research.

"My College Honors thesis and summer research revolved around studying post-socialism. This piqued my interest in traveling to other post-socialist countries and learning about culture and the experiences of people there. Belarus was also the birthplace of many wonderful artists, such as Marc Chagall, who was born in Vitebsk, the city where I will be staying!"

Kristina Washer '17

Kristina Washer'17, of Bedford, Massachusetts, will call the Galápagos Islands home for the next year. While at Holy Cross, Washer, a biology major, spent nearly three years in the lab studying the theoretical anatomy of the dodo bird, and traveled to the Turks and Caicos Islands and Mauritius to study birds. Since graduation, Washer has been doing biological field work for wildlife research projects across the United States.

"I saw Fulbright as an opportunity to pursue field work abroad. I chose the Galapagos because of my interest in studying wildlife in one of the most biodiverse and biologically unique areas of the world. For my project, I will be helping to monitor populations of penguins, albatrosses, and cormorants across the Galapagos and will be working on the island of Santa Cruz to find the causes of increased numbers of car collisions with birds and find ways to mitigate the issue."

Amanda Wibben '19

Amanda Wibben '19, from Riverside, California, will spend the next year in Vellore, India teaching English to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. As a biology major with a minor in religious studies, Wibben was encouraged to explore India by Mathew Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies, who himself studied in the country for a number of years.

"While I'm in India, I plan to focus largely on promoting female empowerment. I hope to hold weekly meetings with women in the community to discuss and provide tools to address women's issues such as menstruation, mental health, educational access and workplace equality."

Once Wibben returns from India, she will be attending Harvard Divinity School to earn her master's degree in theology. After that, she plans to attend medical school in hopes of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

Gregory Wood '18

Gregory Wood '18, a political science and Asian studies double major with a minor in Chinese from Southborough, Massachusetts, is heading to Taiwan. There, he will work as an English teaching assistant in Changhua county in the center of the country.

"Before I started at Holy Cross, I knew I wanted to study politics. For my first semester on The Hill, I enrolled in a history course called “Perspectives On Asia” out of complete curiosity. During this course, I found myself fascinated with the history and culture of China and Taiwan. From that point on, until my last day as a Holy Cross student, I seized every opportunity to learn more about the politics, cultures, history and languages of East Asia."

Wood is looking forward to living and learning about life in a quiet Taiwan town — and he's equally as excited about the food.

"The eclectic snacks and small dishes found in Taiwan’s night markets are some of the defining items in Taiwanese cuisine. I am really looking forward to sharing amazing meals with wonderful people in Taiwan."

Michael Morigi '19 was awarded a Fublright to teach English in Bulgaria, but declined due to a job offer in Boston.