University of St. Thomas senior Laura Hankins has earned the distinguished honor of being named a grantee from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
“When I found out I had received the award, I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude, thanking God for the opportunity I had been given,” Hankins said. “As I was still shaking with excitement, I quickly emailed my German professor Dr. Wagner to tell her the news and thank her for her endless support. This was a moment I will never forget!”
Hankins, who is majoring in neuroscience and minoring in German, received the Fulbright-Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Award for Research in Science and Technology. She will do research full time in Austria during the 2023-24 academic year.
“Laura immediately impressed me when we met in fall 2019 with her intercultural and linguistic skills, academic curiosity, and personal maturity, as well as her ability to connect her two fields of study to conduct meaningful research. She is committed, conscientious and interested; I haven’t found a topic she wouldn’t be able to connect with and deliver amazing products because of hard work, dedication and love for research,” Associate Professor of German Susanne Wagner said. “She is a successful German Club president who can effectively communicate with diverse student groups, faculty and community members. She sees her role as one of community interaction, another of her strengths through which she demonstrates leadership, compassion, conscientious citizenship and pedagogical aptitude.”
Hankins is the 22nd St. Thomas student to be named a Fulbright Student since the program’s founding in 1946. Her selection also reflects a notable increase in recognition of St. Thomas students by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program; St. Thomas has now had at least one student selected in each of the last four competition years.
“I am so proud of Laura for earning this award. She is driven and a hard worker. Most importantly, she truly embodies all that the Fulbright program seeks to foster: academic excellence, a deep appreciation and respect for other cultures and individuals, and a serving, unifying spirit,” Chemistry Associate Professor Lisa Prevette said. “Laura has found a lab at Universität Wien’s Faculty Center for Nanostructure Research in Austria that perfectly complements her research background in polymers and drug delivery. Next year, she will combine her chemical knowledge, excellent communication skills and love of Germanic culture and heritage to bridge scientific communities and work to solve modern problems. I can’t wait to see what Laura accomplishes in her new role.”
In addition to Hankins, St. Thomas community members Alli Preece ’21 and Adalí Flores-Mendoza ’23 were selected as semifinalists for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program this year.
Last year, St. Thomas students Emma Monson ’22 and Carisa Florendo ’22 received Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards. St. Thomas supports and provides the guidance to interested students.
Current students and alumni interested in applying for Fulbright are encouraged to learn more by visiting OneStThomas.