Texas Tech University

Two Fulbright Scholars Selected for 2017-2018 Cycle

Fulbright Award Winners

Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo, Ph.D. and Ivette Noriega selected for the Fulbright Scholar Program.

The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board has selected doctoral student Ivette Noriega and Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo, Ph. D., as Fulbright Scholars for the 2017-2018 term. Ivettte will travel to the nation of Colombia to complete her Fulbright commission. Dr. Trejos-Castillo will travel to Brazil.

Dr. Trejos-Castillo received two Associate of Fine Arts degrees from Castella Arts Conservatory in Costa Rica before she moved to the Untied States to complete two Bachelor of Science degrees in Psychology and English Rhetorical and Technical Business Communications from Iowa State University. After Iowa, Dr. Trejos-Castillo journeyed to Auburn University for a Master of Science degree in Rural Sociology. Dr. Trejos-Castillo then received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family studies from Auburn University.

Dr. Trejos-Castillo serves in the College of Human Sciences as an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS). She says her area of concentration focuses on the individual characteristics and contextual factors that play into the causes of risk taking. Much of Dr. Trejos-Castillo's research focuses on minorities, immigrants, and international at-risk populations.

When asked what her award details, Dr. Trejos-Castillo said that project aims to generate new knowledge on the socio-emotional challenges and strengths of abused and neglected youth in Brazil.

"Applying for a Fulbright Scholar Award has been a long-term goal for me after previously being a Fulbright Student Fellow. This Fulbright award has been years in the making establishing connections with colleagues in Brazil and developing the collaborative project for this award."

As a former Fulbright Student Fellow, Dr. Trejos-Castillo says she understood how rigorous the selection process was going to be, for both herself and Ivette. As a fellow award winner and mentor to Ivette, Dr. Trejos-Castillo says she is very excited for the doors that this award will open for Ivette.

"Ivette possess excellent academic and professional qualifications for the award that are evident not only on her outstanding application packet but also in her curriculum vitae. She also has a strong commitment to serving at risk and underserved youth and she is a great match for the project she will be working with in Medellin, Colombia, with youth exposed to war violence and traumatization."

Ivette is working toward completing her Ph.D. in HDFS. Ivette has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Sciences degree in HDFS from Texas Tech University.

Ivette is involved with several on-campus organizations such as Engineers Without Borders, where she volunteers as a translator and community liaison to help bring clean water to communities in Panama. In addition, Ivette serves as the president of the HDFS Graduate Student Association.

Ivette says that she was a senior undergraduate student at Texas Tech when she first learned of the Fulbright opportunities through a presentation about the program by Tanja Karp, Ph.D.

After leaving Dr. Karp's presentation, Ivette started to think about what kind of project she could do to help her community in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which had been affected by drug cartel violence for years. Shortly after listening to the Fulbright presentation, Ivette traveled to Seville, Spain, for a study abroad experience where she met a Colombian journalist.

"He was from Medellin, Colombia, a city who had been affected by a similar type of violence during the 90s. I remember he candidly explained all the different intervention programs and treatments for the Colombian people, especially those displaced or hurt by the violence. That was the first time I made the parallels between my city and Medellin being a model of hope. This is what made me consider Colombia as a host country for Fulbright."

In preparation for her Fulbright award application, Ivette jumped straight in to begin her HDFS coursework. Before long, Ivette applied for the 2014-2015 cycle with no luck; her application was not accepted.

"The next three years I focused on improving my application. I gained a lot of hands-on experience working in research with Dr. Yoojin Chae, completed my master's thesis, finished all my required coursework, and passed my qualifying exams. I continued applying to other types of international funding during this time but I always had Fulbright in the back of my mind."

Ivette says that Dr. Trejos-Castillo tremendously helped her develop application materials. Ivette credits Dr. Trejos-Castillo for serving as a steadfast mentor during this process. Ivette mentions that Dr. Tanja Karp also encouraged her to never give up.

With this application, Ivette's strong support system and added experience helped bring success. Ivette's application was approved for the 2017-2018 cycle in Colombia.

"I have never been to South America; I am excited to learn more about Colombian culture. I've met students from Colombia at Texas Tech and they have all been incredible and warm people. I am also looking forward to the professional relationships I will make with Colombian faculty and students there."

Congratulations, Dr. Trejos-Castillo and Ivette.