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Senior Environmental Studies Major Wins Fulbright Award

Wednesday, Apr. 22, 2009

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 22 — Santa Clara University senior Elizabeth Tellman has won a Fulbright U.S. Student Award that will take her back to El Salvador to study alternative coffee markets for farmers facing “food insecurity."

Tellman, a double major in environmental studies and individual studies with an emphasis on sustainable globalization, plans to use the fellowship to continue work she began using a Hackworth grant at Santa Clara University. With fellow student Alexandra Dunne, she explored whether Salvadoran organic coffee farmers are better off with established or alternative trade networks to sell their coffee.

She plans to continue that analysis as a Fulbright scholar for 10 months starting in August, measuring the various trade options by their impact on the farmers’ “food insecurity,” or whether they can grow or buy enough food for themselves and their families. The Fulbright program will pay for airfare, lodging, research, and living expenses.

An energetic and mature 22-year-old from Indianapolis, Tellman is eager to tackle complex development issues. She moves deftly in conversation from topics like the history and impact of Salvadoran land reform to the debt levels of organic coffee farmers after the 2001 coffee crisis. She has been awarded numerous honors at SCU, using each of them to continue her research on globalization. She is considering going to graduate school in agricultural or environmental policy after the fellowship ends.

In addition to her Hackworth work last summer, she spent six weeks in El Salvador in 2007 as a Catholic Relief Services intern, helping that agency analyze various agricultural development projects. She spent the spring of last year in Thailand, studying globalization and development projects funded by the World Bank. And as a junior, she spent a semester at the Casa de la Solidaridad, Santa Clara’s social justice immersion program among poor Salvadorans.

Tellman grew up well acquainted with El Salvador, having traveled there as a high schooler with her father, a dentist who trekked to the country annually to spend a week working in a clinic. Her mother, a yoga teacher, sells Salvadoran artwork in the U.S. on behalf of the artisans, and both parents started an El Salvador–based nonprofit foundation benefiting Salvadoran youth.

It was in El Salvador, in fact, that Tellman first learned about Santa Clara University and its long-established relationships in the country.

“I am forever indebted to this wonderful institution that supports holistic education and has always encouraged me to dream big,’’ Tellman said. She added that her research “will be an essential component in a deep understanding of the real impacts of alternative trade models in a world suffering from a worsening food crisis.”

On campus, she’s a member of the Santa Clara Community Action Program, and was selected as one of three Hackworth Fellows this year through the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. She hosts multiple events each quarter to increase awareness in the areas of sustainability, labor rights, and cultural values surrounding food. “When you eat, you are making ethical decisions, which affect millions around the world,” she says.

“From the first day I met her, Beth has been one of the most amazing students, really living her passion,” said Professor Leslie Gray, Tellman’s adviser in environmental studies. “From the day she arrived here, she’s been involved in social justice, including being a leader in the effort to bring fair trade coffee to SCU. She is such a well-rounded person, and she embodies the social justice values of Santa Clara.”


About the Fulbright Program

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” The Fulbright Program has provided almost 300,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential—with the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. The program awarded approximately 6,000 grants in 2008, at a cost of more than $275.4 million, to U.S. students, teachers, professionals, and scholars to study, teach, lecture, and conduct research in more than 155 countries, and to their foreign counterparts to engage in similar activities in the United States. For more information see


About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its 8,758 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see


Media Relations contact: Deborah Lohse, SCU Media Relations Assistant Director, 408-554-5121 or






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