Linfield students, alumna earn Fulbright awards

Pioneer HallThree applicants from Linfield College – two seniors and a recent graduate – have been offered Fulbright grants to teach and research abroad. Carmen Hoffbeck ’19 of Portland; Aspen Brooks ’19 of Bothell, Washington; and Lizette Becerra ’18 of Seattle, Washington, have been selected for awards.




Carmen Hoffbeck ’19

Carmen Hoffbeck ’19Hoffbeck, a biology and math double major, will conduct research on the takahē, one of many endangered birds in New Zealand. Its small remaining population is being maintained primarily through conservation and relocation programs. Animals in these programs have been documented to have lower fertility, worse overall health and shorter life spans. She will study the gut microbes of captive birds in these programs and those in the wild to find discrepancies with the hopes of improving captivity programs.

Hoffbeck has long had an interest in the environment and conservation. While in New Zealand, she plans to volunteer with the Auckland Department of Conservation to help educate youth.

“I hope to pass on my respect for nature to children and young people in Auckland who may have few opportunities to participate in environmental activism and service,” she said.

Following her experience, Hoffbeck plans to pursue a higher degree in microbiology and ecology and ultimately continue conservation through a microbiology lens.


Aspen Brooks ’19

Aspen Brooks '19Brooks, who majors in international relations and Spanish, will teach English in the Canary Islands, off the coast of Spain. While there, she also hopes to work with refugee welcoming and resettlement organizations such as ACOBE, a nonprofit based in Madrid. As the daughter of an immigrant, she said the cause is important to her.

“There is a significant need in Spain for extra hands to assist the recent influx of refugees,” Brooks said. “I’d like to work alongside local activists and with refugees from different cultures, increasing my cultural awareness.”

Brooks is no stranger to Spain. As a Linfield Spanish major, she has studied abroad twice, spending semesters in Sevilla and Alicante. Following her Fulbright experience, she plans to obtain a master’s degree and pursue a career in global politics, promoting multilingual education. Her work with students now will be crucial to her goal.

“It is essential for those in education policy to have classroom experience first to provide perspective of how policy directly impacts students,” she added.


Lizette Becerra ’18

Lizette Becerra ’18Becerra, who earned a degree in Latin American studies with a minor in biology, will teach English in Mexico. She hopes to deepen her understanding of the country and discover its diversity of communities and culture.

“I aim to continue my passion in student empowerment,” said Becerra, who studied at the Universidad San Francisco De Quito as a Linfield student. “I am flexible in teaching styles, with the goal of using activities I utilized while leading Spanish conversation groups at Linfield to practice the language orally and accommodate my students’ needs.”

While in Mexico, Becerra plans to volunteer with non-profit organizations such as Casa Materna and Compañeros En Salud that promote and offer public health to rural marginalized groups. She also plans to organize a bilingual book club for students in which classic books will be read and a contrast can be made across both languages.

Following the Fulbright experience, Becerra plans to obtain a master’s degree to become a physician’s assistant.  She also hopes to intern with Compañeros En Salud to have one-on-one experience with patients in rural communities.

Linfield College is among the top American colleges and universities that produced the most Fulbright U.S. students in 2017-2018, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 380,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. More than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and early career professionals in more than 100 different fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English and conduct research annually in 140 countries throughout the world.