Student awarded Fulbright grant

Senior Christina Durano said it felt like a tidal wave of relief hit her Monday when she realized she could take off her necklace that read “Do Not Ask Me What I Am Doing After Graduation,” because she will receive an opportunity she only dreamed of – becoming a Fulbright Scholar.

Ronald Pitcock, a J. Vaughn and Evelyne H. Wilson Honors Fellow and director of prestigious scholarships, said the Fulbright Scholar Program was created in 1946 by the U.S. Congress and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars and professionals.

For Durano, it will mean she will be able to go abroad for nine to 10 months to conduct research, Pitcock said.

Durano said she will be going to the Philippines to study media as a means for social change. Durano said she considered applying to countries in several areas of the world, but eventually decided to apply to the Philippines because she wanted to discover her cultural roots and because she saw potential for her research project there.

She said she visited the Philippines in 2009 to visit family and for a missions trip. While she was there, Durano said, she took a side trip to the University of the Philippines at Diliman to meet the person she would be studying under.

“I really caught hold of the dream once I actually got there and realized what an incredible opportunity this would be, and I decided to pursue it with everything in me,” Durano said.

Durano said she will use the People Power Revolution, which occurred in 1986, as a case study for her research of media as a conduit for social change.

Ferdinand Marcos was legitimately elected president of the Philippines in the 1960s, Durano said. He declared martial law in 1972 during which he suppressed freedom of the press and freedom of speech. In 1986, people gathered in the streets to overthrow him, and many believe it would not have been possible to rally the people without the radio and televisions sources that were available, she said.

During her research, Durano plans to answer several research questions regarding the role of the media in the People Power Revolution and the overthrow of Marcos. Other questions she said she wants to answer include how did the government lost control of the media during martial law, would the result have played out the same way without the broadcast media and how do journalists today use media to promote social change.

Durano said she plans to meet with politicians, journalists and regular people to talk to them about medias’ role in social change.

In high school, Durano said she heard of the Fulbright award, but it did not cross her mind again until Pitcock, who she had as a professor for honors sophomore composition, brought it up to her and told her she would make a good candidate.

Pitcock said he contacted many students about applying for the Fulbright award but he knew from having Durano in class that she would make a good candidate.

“Having learned about her experiences, knowing her research interests and understanding how she viewed the world, those three things make her a very good candidate,” Pitcock said.

Durano’s sister, Amberle Durano, a freshman nursing major, said she also thought Durano was a perfect candidate.

“She has been pursuing her dreams of becoming a broadcast journalist ever since I can remember.And I think that the Fulbright really will enable her to use her journalism skills that she has been garnering all these years to really research something she is passionate about,” Amberle Durano said.

Durano said she will likely leave for the Philippines before the end of the year, although she is not sure exactly when yet. She still has to get medical clearance, research clearance and a visa, but she does not think any of this will be a problem.

Until she leaves, Durano said she will focus on starting her research and working on improving her language skills in Spanish and Tagalog, two of the other languages spoken in the Philippines along with English.