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Four SPS Alumni and Students Traveling the World with Fulbright Awards

Representing the graduate programs in Bioethics, Strategic Communication, Sustainability Management, and Nonprofit Management, four extraordinary SPS students and alumni are traveling the world with Fulbright awards sending them to the United Kingdom, Rome, Bulgaria, and the Arctic Circle.

Roman Baca, Nonprofit Management

Slated to graduate in 2018, Nonprofit Management student Roman Baca is a Marine, dancer, and choreographer who started a dance company named Exit12, which tells veterans’ stories using both narrative and dance.

Baca’s career as an artist and a veteran has been intertwined in fascinating ways. He started as a professional dancer, and went from there to the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was deployed to Iraq. “When I returned from Iraq, I turned back to art to heal and communicate an experience that wasn’t accurately portrayed in media,” he said at the recent Nonprofit Management Open House, where he was a featured student speaker. This experience was the impetus for starting Exit12.

Baca was awarded a 2017 Fulbright Scholarship to the United Kingdom, where he will pursue an M.A./MFA in Choreography at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire and create a military-themed ballet to Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. “I will also be studying the efforts that organizations in the U.K. are making to combine the military-experience with the performing arts,” says Baca. As for his future plans, “My goal is to concurrently grow Exit12 Dance Company, sharing veterans’ stories to heal the world, as well as to pursue a career in teaching at a university to inspire the pursuit and sharing of ideas.”

James Ninia, Bioethics

James Ninia graduated in summer 2017 from the Bioethics program. He double-majored in chemistry and philosophy in his undergraduate studies at Brown, and pursuing a Bioethics degree was “a way to have my cake and eat it too,” he says. After his Fulbright, he plans to attend medical school.

For his Fulbright Research Grant, Ninia, a dual citizen of both the U.S. and Italy, will work in a lab in Rome, Italy, where he proposed a project to study “the synergistic effects of two drugs on duchenne muscular dystrophy,” a rapidly progressive form of muscular dystrophy. He is also hoping to work with the ethics committee at the hospital associated with the lab, and to do work with Patent Project ONLUS, the Italian branch of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a patient advocacy organization for young men and families affected by duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Jesse Scinto, Strategic Communication

Jesse Scinto, who received his master’s degree in Strategic Communication in 2012, has been involved with the program as both a faculty member and in his current position as the Associate Director for Curriculum Development.

For Scinto, his Fulbright U.S. Scholar award is a result of his time in the Strategic Communication program. He credits an instructor, Shawn MacIntosh, for encouraging him to work towards a Fulbright.

As a Fulbright recipient, Scinto will be teaching at the American University in Bulgaria. Starting in January 2018, he will teach courses involving “communication for commerce and the common good,” including Executive Presence, a public speaking course for their executive MBA program. “I’m looking forward to helping Bulgarian students become leaders in communication. Their economy is struggling, and when we were there, we heard young people talking about leaving. If I can do something to help, I’d love to help.”

David Prieto, Sustainability Management

David Prieto, 2015 graduate of the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program, was awarded a Fulbright-National Science Foundation Arctic Research Grant, focused on interdisciplinary issues across the Arctic. The specialized grant is co-funded by the Fulbright Program and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

While at Columbia, Prieto completed an independent capstone project in the Republic of Palau, an island nation in Micronesia. He developed a report highlighting the economic benefits of marine conservation, and his research helped establish “what is currently the sixth largest marine protected area (MPA) in the world,” he says.

While based in Iceland for the grant, he will research the benefits of establishing an MPA over the Central Arctic Ocean, exploring the effects of natural resource development, shipping rights, and geopolitics.

He believes it is a crucial time for this research, noting: “Treaty negotiations to create marine protected areas beyond national jurisdiction have recently been initiated at the United Nations. The Central Arctic Ocean falls within that category. The question is not whether the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free, rather by the time that it is, what will be the implications for the sustainability of the economies that depend on it and what incentives exist to encourage countries to cooperate and protect the rapidly changing region.”