Alma Chavez, a 2017 graduate of New Mexico State University (NMSU) received the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship to continue her studies in Forensic Anthropology at the University of Kent in the UK.
Chavez will travel to Kent on September 9 to study an area that has interested him since his childhood in Juárez, Mexico. Chavez was born in El Paso and attended high school there, but while living in Juárez she witnessed and knew families of femicide victims. According to Amnesty International, more than 370 women were killed in the towns of Juárez and Chihuahua, Mexico, between 1993 and 2005.
“Being the only girl and the youngest in my family, I was aware of the feminicides that were happening in Juárez,” said Chavez. “I looked at the news and had a friend who one day didn’t show up for school.
Chavez was inspired to pursue her studies in forensic anthropology in the hopes of someday bringing justice to victims who have not been identified.
“Since 1994, there have been 2,754 feminicides, but only 200 victims have been identified,” Chavez said. “Even though these murders are not as much in the news as they used to be, there are families still waiting for their loved ones to be identified.”
After earning his BA in Anthropology, Psychology, and Foreign Languages, Chavez discovered the Forensic Anthropology program at the University of Kent, which is one of the best in the world in this field. In Kent, Chavez will continue research and development in forensic anthropology, focusing on generating more precise identification methods to identify a diverse group of individuals, such as victims of femicide and undocumented cross-border commuters.
Chavez is so passionate about her field of study that she had planned to attend the University of Kent whether or not she got the Fulbright Scholarship. But with the help of her mentor, Andrea Orzoff, Associate Professor of History at NMSU and Director of the Office of National Fellowships and International Education at NMSU, she succeeded in her Fulbright application.
“Dr. Orzoff explained to me what the interview would look like and I felt pretty confident,” Chavez said. “Usually a lot of things that I feel confident don’t work out, but I learned pretty quickly that I was accepted. When I told my parents, I started to cry, my parents started to cry. It was a great relief. “
Orzoff said the Fulbright scholarship application process is very competitive, especially for a UK award.
“I think that says a lot about the kind of candidate Alma is, to be able to win a Fulbright at this level of competition,” Orzoff said. “She’s so smart, but also so kind and humble. She’s very typical of our New Mexico State Fulbright candidates.
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is supported by people in the United States and partner countries around the world. Since 1946, the Fulbright program has provided more than 400,000 participants from over 160 countries with the opportunity to study, teach and research, exchange ideas and help find solutions to international concerns. communes.
The main source of funding for the Fulbright program is an annual credit from the United States Congress to the Office of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, businesses, and foundations in foreign countries and the United States also provide direct and indirect support.
To learn more about how to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship or Faculty Award, contact Orzoff at [email protected]
Author: Adriana M. Chavez – New Mexico State University (NMSU)