Askarirad majored in psychology and minored in global affairs at the College of Liberal and Fine Arts and is also a graduate of Honors College and the Terry Scholar Program. She will participate in the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program. She took English as a second language lessons at the age of six, after her family moved from Iran to the United States. She hopes to pay it forward by giving back to Bulgarian students through teaching English.
“Having grown up in a multicultural environment like San Antonio, I feel passionate about understanding the backgrounds of other individuals. Speaking with those with diverse upbringings is key to learning more about the world around you,” Askarirad said. “As I gain a better understanding of the students’ culture, I want to educate them about my own — both Iranian and American — and the Texas traditions I’ve embraced.”
The first-generation student interned at the City of San Antonio Immigration Liaison Office and taught English as a Second Language through the Honors College program. After her year in Bulgaria, Askarirad plans to attend law school and pursue a career as a lawyer and immigration lawyer.
Castrillón-Costa is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Bicultural and Bilingual Studies at the College of Education and Human Development. He will travel to Saint Lucia to conduct a critical ethnography of language education policy in Saint Lucia schools. Her research focuses on educational language policies that necessitate the exclusive use of standard English as the language of instruction despite the fact that many students in Saint Lucia speak Kweyol, the native Creole language.
Castrillón-Costa will conduct her research in collaboration with the teacher training department of Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in Saint Lucia. He expects his work to inform educational policy and raise awareness of the need to study Caribbean creole languages for use in education.
Following her Fulbright research, Castrillón-Costa hopes to leverage her research to support educational practitioners and contribute to equitable educational environments.
“As a researcher, I will continue to investigate the presence of Caribbean Creoles and indigenous languages in educational contexts aimed at developing educational language policies that positively recognize minority language practices,” he said.
Varner is a doctoral student in the Earth and Planets department of the College of Sciences and works under the mentorship of Saugata Datta, director of the UTSA Institute for Water Research, Sustainability and Policy. Working with Dr. Datta and an international team of researchers, Varner had previously traveled to Bangladesh in January 2020. In India, Varner will conduct fieldwork on arsenic poisoning in drinking water, which affects approximately 300 million people worldwide. Arsenic is widespread in the Bengal Basin, which spans the border between India and Bangladesh.
“This research will help promote equitable and sustainable water practices in India and the United States,” he said. “Issues regarding water equity are global, and through my time in India, I hope to share my knowledge as a researcher so that the result will be a better collective understanding of our natural resources. in water.”
While the Fulbright Student Program offers a world of experiences for students, the application process itself also offers benefits, according to Andrew Chapmanadvisor for UTSA’s Fulbright program and associate dean of Honors College.
“We have had former applicants who did not receive scholarships but who, through the application process, developed research proposals for their future applications for graduate studies in the United States, which earned them an opportunity stock market,” Chapman said. “Here, the Fulbright app is a testing ground for new ideas and a foundational experiment in writing about future research.”