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Portland's Natalie Hemphill wins Fulbright to Spain

June 14, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore.--- Graduated University of Portland cross country and track standout Natalie Hemphill has received a prestigious Fulbright grant to work and study in Spain, raising the University's total number to a school record 10 for the 2011-12 academic year. Hemphill is the second Portland student-athlete to have been selected for a Fulbright grant, joining women's soccer star Jessica Tsao who will be studying in the United Kingdom.

With 10 for 2011-12, the University has now doubled its number of accepted Fulbright scholars from 2010-11, when UP ranked first nationally among "master's institutions" in a listing of top producers of Fulbright awards for U.S. students by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The University of Portland has been a leader among its peer institutions in producing Fulbright scholars for several years, ranking first nationally in 2010-11 and 2007-08 and second nationally in 2006-07, 2008-09 and 2009-10. Since 2001, students from the University of Portland have earned 34 Fulbright grants.

Hemphill graduated in May 2011 with degrees in Spanish and life science and minors in psychology and health and physical education. She was also a member of the University's cross country and track teams, where she was a first-team All-West Coast Conference runner in cross country and has the school record for steeplechase in track.

Hemphill is the first student in the history of the University to win a Fulbright to Spain, among the most competitive countries in the world for Fulbright applicants. She has been selected for an English teaching assistantship (ETA).

Of the University's record 10 Fulbright awards from its Class of 2011, two are for graduate studies in the United Kingdom, five are for English teaching assistantships in Germany, one is for a research position in Germany, one is for an English teaching assistantship in Spain, and one is to study and combat human trafficking in Cambodia.

The United Kingdom is among the most prestigious and competitive of the Fulbright student programs. Only 35 open Fulbright grants to the United Kingdom are awarded annually from more than 700 applicants nationwide, and two were given to University of Portland graduates.

"For more than a century the University of Portland has been utterly devoted to superb teaching as a primary way of helping young people find and hone their incredible creative talents," said University President Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., "and we are very pleased to see our own students now bringing their talents worldwide through the Fulbright program. We really do think of our graduates as agents of hope and creativity in the world, and this is a particularly refreshing and influential way to bring the University's mission into play internationally."

The recipients of the graduate studies positions in the United Kingdom are: Sean Frederick of Colorado Springs, Colo., University valedictorian and double major in mechanical engineering and Spanish; and Jessica Tsao of Portland, Ore., a four-year starter on the women's soccer team and a biology major who is a two-time Academic All-American, the 2010 West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and the 2010-11 West Coast Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year.

The recipients of the German teaching grants are: Nicholas Balthrop of Eugene, Ore., a double major in political science and German studies; Lisa McMahan of La Grande, Ore., a double major in English and German studies; Annemarie Medrzycki of Tacoma, Wash., a double major in history and German studies; Jeni Mussio of Eugene, Ore., a German studies major; and Erika O'Sullivan of Juneau, Alaska, a political science major.

The recipient of the German research grant is Natalie Higgins of Portland, Ore., a mechanical engineering major; the recipient of the Spanish teaching grant is Natalie Hemphill of Ashland, Ore., a double major in Spanish and life science and member of the University's cross country and track teams; and the recipient of the grant to study and combat human trafficking in Cambodia is Brianna Hodge of Altadena, Calif., a double major in social work and sociology.

"These students worked very hard on their applications and are richly deserving of the honor," said John Orr, Assistant to the Provost for Fellowships and Grants. "They will represent UP and the United States extremely well in their year abroad."

The United States Fulbright program began in 1946 after World War II to "assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic and peaceful relations between the United States and other countries of the world" through the exchange of students, scholars and professionals. The program operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.

-Courtesy of UP Athletics