Bridget Burns '13
International Studies major | Durham, N.H.
As a sophomore, Bridget Burns ’13 spent five months studying abroad in the Gambia, West Africa, with Associate Professor of History Catherine Cymone Fourshey. As a result of that experience—and with the gentle nudging of her mentor—she applied for and was awarded a prestigious Fulbright award in April 2013, along with fellow international studies major Holly Belkot '13.
“While in the Gambia Bridget got very involved in the community,” said Fourshey, who also serves as Susquehanna’s faculty coordinator for postgraduate advising and director of the international studies program. “Bridget bonded with several members of her neighborhood, establishing connections that will be lasting.”
“I immersed myself in a new lifestyle, which allowed me to develop meaningful relationships within our local neighborhood and the university community,” explained Burns. “That experience influenced my worldview tremendously.”
Burns, who is from Durham, N.H., went on to work with a community of Somali Bantu immigrants living in Lewiston, Maine, the following year. There she taught English, assisted with job training skills and developed a women’s empowerment program.
“I am really interested, both personally and academically, in thinking about how democratic nations can create social and political change that creates opportunity for traditionally marginalized citizenry to thrive educationally and economically,” Burns said.
“I am incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to explore my interests in political and social change while at Susquehanna,” she added. “Without Dr. Fourshey’s support and guidance, I probably wouldn’t have spent a semester in West Africa.”
Nor would she have applied for the prestigious award.
“I hadn’t considered applying for a Fulbright grant until Dr. Fourshey approached me about it over the summer of 2012,” she said. “After a lot of brainstorming and consideration, and with support from other faculty, I proposed a project to go to Mauritius, an African country in the Indian Ocean.”
She was awarded the Fulbright grant and, after earning her degree in international studies at Susquehanna, she will spend 10 months in the small East African island nation working in partnership with Crysalid, a rehabilitative center that provides grassroots advocacy and job training for marginalized women in recovery.
“I’ll be working with a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that does grassroots advocacy work and rehabilitation for some of the most marginalized women in the country,” she said. “Working with a small but energized and very active NGO appealed to me as an opportunity to learn about how social and political change develops in a functional democracy.
“I hope that I can continue to learn about and question the social, political and economical institutions that I participate in as an American and as a citizen of the world.”
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