Six Lafayette students have been awarded Fulbright grant in past five years.
Lafayette senior Shara Gregory of Collegeville, Pa., and recent graduate Tarik Ghanim ’03 of Amman, Jordan, have received Fulbright grants this spring for post-graduate studies.
Gregory has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for post-graduate study in Germany, while Ghanim’s Fulbright Student Award will fund graduate studies in electrical and computer engineering in the United States.
Michael Lestingi ’04 also received a Fulbright this year to study the privatization of Russia’s railroads.
Six Lafayette students have received Fulbright grants in the past five years. Previous winners are Jessica Coakley ’03 (international affairs /economics & business; Germany); Sarah Glacel ’01 (international affairs/Russian & East European studies; Russia), and Sarah Eremus ’00 (Spanish/Japanese Studies; Japan).
Spearheaded by Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright, the Fulbright Program was established by Congress in 1946 to demonstrate U.S. commitment to democratic values worldwide. The program aims to increase mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchange, strengthen U.S. ties with other nations, and promote international cooperation.
Ghanim graduated magna cum laude last May, earning a B.S. in electrical & computer engineering, and will receive a B.A. in international studies this May. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most respected undergraduate honors organization, Ghanim’s career goal is to develop cutting-edge ideas in the field of communications and computer networks and use them in entrepreneurial or consulting capacities.
A double major in international affairs and German, Gregory is completing a year-long senior research project in pursuit of honors in international affairs under the guidance of Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, associate professor of German in the department of foreign languages and literatures.
As the European Union prepares to expand its membership this spring Gregory is exploring a dark chapter of modern history. She’s examining how the Czechslovak government implemented 143 laws known as the Benes Decrees in 1945-46. Issued by President Edvard Benes, the decrees led to the expulsion of 2.5 million Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II. The ethnic Germans lost their citizenship and property, without compensation, and were expelled, unless they could prove they had been loyal to Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation.
Gregory presented her research at the 18th annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research, hosted April 15-17 by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. More than 40 Lafayette students were invited to present their research at the conference.
The Benes Decrees have been the subject of recent debate, with some, particularly in Austria and Germany, arguing that the Czech Republic should not be allowed in the European Union unless the decrees are annulled.
Having first learned of the Benes Decrees while studying in Vienna for a semester, Gregory says she is fascinated about how little mention appears in history books of the forced migration of more than 2,000,000 people.
“Were not the Czech Republic about to join the EU, I’m not sure the whole business would be of concern, but in order to ratify the treaties, the Benes Decrees had to be dealt with,” Gregory says. “They’re a lingering wound from the past.”
Lamb-Faffelberger explains that tensions between the German minority and native Czechs stretch back for centuries and were used by Hitler during World War II to exploit past prejudices for his own political ends.
“Shara is doing a fantastic job. It’s an impressive piece of scholarship that she is producing,” she says. “Her thesis diligently shows how there is a collective guilt on both sides. You have the Germans who have a collective shame for the horrors of World War II, and you have contemporary Czechs who feel guilty for forcing millions of people out of their only known home.”
“Her thesis is also showing how we can learn from history, how the wrongs of the past can sometimes be undone. She is also learning that when it comes to global politics, the world is not black and white, it is gray. Both sides here share in guilt for sins of the past. This is a very complex topic, and Shara is showing mastery over its nuances,” Lamb-Faffelberger continues.
“Professor Lamb-Faffelberger has helped me take a broad perspective on human rights everywhere,” Gregory says.
“Throughout my language studies, she has always been there,” she continues. “She wants her students to succeed. She’s there for her students any time – her office door is always open. She’s helped provide me with the analytical skills to tackle this project, to try and see both sides of very complicated issues.”
Close relationships with professors “make a Lafayette education so worthwhile,” Gregory says. “They open up resources to you, such as being able to interview an ambassador of human rights and having a representative from the Austrian government talk with me. That came about because my professor had those inside contacts. Professors at Lafayette have access to a world of resources.”
Gregory was invited last spring, as a junior, to join Phi Beta Kappa, which fosters and recognizes excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. She is the 2004 recipient of Lafayette’s Rexroth Prize in German/Outstanding Senior Award. In 2002 she received the Rexroth Language Studies Award in German.
Secretary of German Society, she is also a member of Ultimate Frisbee Club.
“In selecting my undergraduate institution,” says Ghanim, “Lafayette College was attractive because of its strong engineering program, coupled with its liberal arts atmosphere, where a multiplicity of other disciplines including international studies could be incorporated into the educational experience. While completing my engineering courses, I also took courses in politics, government, and math, and developed a specific interest in French.”
Ghanim gained intensive research experience at Lafayette through an EXCEL Scholars project in which he designed virtual computer circuits with power supplies in varying voltages for communications devices. In Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, students assist faculty with research while earning a stipend. The program has helped make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate in EXCEL each year go on to publish papers in scholarly journals and/or present their research at conferences.
“With its intellectually intense atmosphere, Lafayette College provided me with the challenge to attack real-world questions using the areas of expertise that I developed in my academic training,” he says. “Over my four years at Lafayette, I was involved in a place of multiculturalism, pluralism and individualism – all of which are important parts of life’s endeavors�My Lafayette experience was enriching and rewarding in all aspects and has prepared me for any upcoming challenges that life has to offer. ”
Ghanim was invited to join the Tau Beta Pi national engineering honor society and is a lifetime member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He served as president of Lafayette’s Muslim Students Association and was a member of International Affairs Club, International Students Association, and Asian Cultural Association. He was a computer science tutor and a Computing Services employee with responsibilities in hardware and software troubleshooting. He spent a summer helping to maintain the computer network for Royal Jordanian Airline at Queen Alia Airport in Jordan.
Ghanim says his interest in communication systems and networks was advanced at Lafayette by courses such as Network Analysis, Digital Signal Processing, and Communication Systems.
“Armed with signal analysis techniques, the level of my understanding vastly increased,” he says. “Communication systems started to make sense; the ins and outs, the reasons for and behind communications all came together.”
In graduate school, Ghanim will pursue interests introduced by hands-on, design-oriented courses in Lafayette’s electrical and computer engineering curriculum. One course that particularly engaged him was Senior Design Project, which involved design and implementation of both Token Ring and Ethernet computer networks.
“My group was able to write the assembly code needed to successfully implement the Token Ring and Ethernet protocols,” he says. “Termination of transmission lines was studied in detail as well to make sure that the reliability of the signal was not compromised in the applied network. The success of the design was proven with the highest efficiencies and the lowest delays possible throughout the nodes of the network. The opportunity to work on this design project provided a deeper understanding of the internal processes of the transfer of data.”
He built on that knowledge in a second design project that called for implementing a wireless transceiver communication system.
“This project vastly increased my knowledge and interest in communication systems, their proper design, and the workings of such systems,” he notes.
Engineering project such as these and an enriching liberal arts program made Lafayette the right fit for Ghanim.
“I needed an excellent education; both technical in the engineering field and comprehensive in the various disciplines offered,” he explains. “I did not want to be a mere programmer who codes C++ better than he speaks English, I wanted to study sciences, history, and politics. I needed to be well rounded and well educated in all fields of life to be as complete a person as my efforts and dedication would make me. I needed to be in touch with the latest developments in the ever-changing world of technology and computers. I need computer labs, resources, books, connections, and more resources. This continuous, never yielding, passion for knowledge is what I sought – and still seek.”
Ghanim says that his years at Lafayette and other experiences have enlightened him about global needs and those of Jordan in particular. Although relatively prosperous, the nation lacks engineering jobs that go beyond merely technical projects, he notes.
“My vision lies, after hopefully finishing my masters, in establishing an engineering consulting company that will lay the groundwork for engineering firms in Jordan. This in turn will provide job opportunities and inaugurate more into the market as the sector grows and starts attracting foreign investment into Jordan. It is then that I will be able to finally distinguish myself as someone who has benefited humanity and enriched his society.”
Ghanim’s graduate school placement will be determined by the America-Mideast Educational and Training Services, Inc., a nonprofit organization that strengthens mutual understanding and cooperation between Americans and the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa. AMIDEAST administers the Fulbright Program for students from the Middle East and North Africa through a cooperative agreement with the United States State Department.