Four URI students, alumni selected for prestigious Fulbright Scholarships

Annabelle Leahy

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 24, 2023 – Four University of Rhode Island students and alumni have been selected to receive Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Recipients are provided the opportunity to conduct research, study, and teach English overseas.

Annabelle Leahy ’23, who will earn a joint graduate degree in marine affairs and oceanography from URI in May, will travel to the European Union through the Fulbright Schuman Program to study EU affairs and policy at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. She will analyze the implementation of offshore wind initiatives, marine spatial planning tools, and other European environmental policies to understand how the U.S. might develop the industry in a way that contributes to emissions reductions, coexists with other marine industries, and minimizes harm to ecosystems in coastal communities. She is from Bethesda, Maryland.

Heather DiFazio

Heather DiFazio ’23 will conduct research at the University of Bern, Switzerland, relating to the development of an artificial intelligence module for a surgical intraoperative diagnostic device that can differentiate between tumors and healthy tissue. The AI module would generate a patient-specific profile, allowing surgeons to perform with greater precision and improved outcomes. DiFazio’s work will enable her to participate in the development of medical devices as well as the surgical outcomes, through a partnership with the Bern University Hospital. DeFazio is a graduating senior in URI’s International Engineering Program, majoring in biomedical engineering and German. She is from Cranston, Rhode Island. 

Timothy Berard

Timothy Berard ’20 will attend the University of Sussex in England to pursue a master’s degree in migration studies where he will focus on issues of identity, LGBTQ+ rights, and asylum policies. Berard plans to pursue a law degree in immigration law or human rights in the future, to support LGBTQ+ refugees. A native of Hope Valley, Rhode Island, Berard started his college journey at the Community College of Rhode Island, transferring to URI, where he was a Gilman Scholar, a Rangel Scholar, a Demers Fellow and a finalist for the Marshall Scholarship, as well as the Rangel Fellowship.

Nathaniel Sandoval ’21, from Providence, earned a bachelor’s in political science from URI as part of the Talent Development program, after beginning his college career at CCRI. A first generation college student, Sandoval was named a Gilman Scholar at URI, and went on to be selected as a Gilman Program Alumni Ambassador. He will serve as an English teaching assistant in Panama, where he will be placed in a regional city or rural public school.  In addition to aiding students in increased English proficiency, he will serve as a citizen-ambassador in the community, sharing his understanding and first-hand experience of U.S. culture by organizing and executing educational, cultural, and social activities, both within the classroom and in extracurricular programs. 

Nathaniel Sandoval

“URI is educating top-notch students who, along with academic success, demonstrate leadership and a true passion for their respective fields of interest. Each grantee possesses both the skills and the desire to make a meaningful impact, and we are enormously proud of their achievements,” said Kathleen D. Maher, director of URI’s Office of National Fellowships & Academic Opportunities.

About the Fulbright student program
The Fulbright program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Fulbright U.S. students are graduating seniors, alumni, or graduate students representing various areas of study, selected for their leadership potential, academic and/or professional achievement, and a commitment to service. Notable national Fulbright alumni include 62 Nobel Prize laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize recipients, 78 MacArthur Fellows, and 41 who have served as a head of state or government. URI has had 30 Fulbright student scholars since 2011.

To apply for a Fulbright
Rising URI seniors, recent graduates, and graduate students interested in applying for the next round of scholarships are encouraged to visit URI’s Office of National Fellowships website for more information.