When Stephanie Bello was a sophomore at Queens, she took a class on global citizenship. She entered the class a business and communications major and left with a passion for international studies. "That class opened my eyes to prevalent global issues," she says. Three years later, she's a prestigious Fulbright Scholar. The Fulbright Program was created in 1945 to promote international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science.
Bello applied to a Fulbright program in Medellin, Colombia to teach English at Universidad Católica del Norte.
"I can relate to the students' battles and challenges. I was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to Charlotte when I was in fourth grade. I had to learn English."
- Stephanie Bello '12
She'll be working with the internally displaced, which primarily consists of the marginalized indigenous and afro-Colombian population.
Her concern for helping others developed during her years at Queens. She made her first trip to South America through Queens' short-term study abroad program. Later, she was exposed to the challenges of a developing country through a Queens mission trip to a Haitian village in the Dominican Republic. Michele Shaul was Bello's Spanish professor and worked with her on an intensive Latino studies research project. "Stephanie is a self-directed young woman with a passion for service, advocacy and human rights. She has sought out experiences that will aid her in the pursuit of a public service career. Most students do not have such a clear sense of purpose."
Applying for the Fulbright was a team effort, fueled by the support of the Queens community. Former classmate Talina Velazquez '12 proofread her application. Maggie Commins, assistant professor of political science and international studies, and John Downey, dean of students, provided references. Most notably, her husband Jarred Bean '11, whom she met at Queens, gave her the confidence and encouragement to apply. "I had to get past my own self judgment. My husband helped. He's very supportive."
She leaves for South America in July, first spending a week in orientation in Bogota, then heading to Medellin for her 10-month assignment. And afterwards? She plans to attend graduate school. "I want to influence international policy in developing countries. I want to empower youth through education so they can prosper in their lives and influence the community around them."