WestConn graduate awarded Fulbright scholarship
By Robin DeMerell

Ashley Hyde ’09

When Ashley Hyde ’09 traveled to Cape Verde, Africa, she saw an opportunity to help others.

While on the trip, sponsored by the Humanitarian Travel Club, Hyde took part in assisting with medical aid, tutoring students and helping deportees reintegrate into society. “That trip really spurred my interest. There are an increasing number of people being deported and sent back to their homes,” Hyde says. “They are sent back with no support. Housing and employment are a problem. And there is a huge cultural issue, a stigma, with being a deportee. No one in the community wants to help them.”

That interest in helping people abroad earned Hyde a Fulbright scholarship. Presently, she’s in Jamaica for a year to conduct research on alternative methods of integration for deportees. After her study is completed, she will earn a Master of Science in public health or international relations from the University of West Indies, which will advise and oversee her project.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright program is the largest United States international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide. There were approximately 6,000 grants awarded in 2008 to U.S. students, teachers, professionals, and scholars to study, teach, lecture and conduct research in more than 155 countries and to their foreign counterparts to engage in similar academic activities in the U.S.

The 22-year-old Southbury resident learned about the Fulbright last year from Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Chris Kukk, who suggested to Hyde that she apply for the scholarship. Hyde has a B.S. in Anthropology with a minor in international studies. As an undergraduate, she received an award for Academic Excellence in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences and an Associate Honors Degree.

As part of her research, Hyde will speak with deportees about their experiences, why they were deported and the problems they encountered. By collecting this information, she hopes not only to help them secure housing and employment, but hopes to open doors to the community and garner the support the deportees need to succeed in their native land.

“She will take full advantage of this opportunity academically, professionally and personally,” says Kukk, who has no doubt Hyde will effect positive change for the people she reaches out to. “Ashley is very culturally sensitive and that will help her to find options that will fit their cultural way of living. She’s the type of person who, when obstacles are put in her path, she figures a way around them.”

Hyde is the latest WestConn graduate to receive a Fulbright; 2009 graduate Stephen Price was awarded a Fulbright last year to study music in France.

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