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'09 Alumna Wins Fulbright Fellowship for Research in Jamaica

April 30, 2010


Nicole JeanBaptiste

There's a well-worn expression that when one door closes, another opens. For Bronx mom Nicole JeanBaptiste, that adage turned out to be not just true but almost instantaneous.

When she opened the email she received on March 26, she wasn't sure what she would find. A Lehman graduate of the Class of 2009, she had applied to a highly competitive African Studies graduate program. But the email did not contain good news: she had been rejected. "I was disappointed," she recalls, "but, to be honest, I handled it better than I thought I would."

JeanBaptiste closed her computer and went to get the other kind of mail. Inside the mailbox was a package from the Institute of International Education, the organization that sponsors Fulbright Scholarships. "I could tell by the size of the envelope—it was large—that I got accepted." She immediately contacted her Lehman professors, like Prof. Anne Rice, who wrote letters of recommendation for her application.

The Bronx native's Fulbright Fellowship—one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world—will fund her research in the history of the African Diaspora at Jamaica's University of the West Indies, beginning in August. "I'm just really happy to have this opportunity," says JeanBaptiste. A graduate of the Macaulay Honors College at Lehman, she will research the history and development of Rastafarian craftsmanship.

"By winning this Fulbright, Nicole has shown how innovative and important her project is," says Prof. Rice of Lehman's African and African American Studies department. "She's a really bright, ambitious and determined student." JeanBaptiste plans to bring her two-year-old son along on her journey.