ATLANTA – Mercer University College of Professional Advancement faculty members Dr. Jacqueline Stephen and Dr. Zipangani Vokhiwa recently received Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program awards to Azerbaijan and Malawi, respectively, from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
Dr. Stephen, assistant professor of instructional design and director of the Office of Distance Learning, will use the award to design, develop and teach courses centered on instructional design and training and development. In addition to teaching, she will facilitate faculty and student professional development programs in the form of workshops, webinars and seminars.
“I am grateful to be selected for this exciting opportunity to serve as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar and honored to have the chance to represent Mercer University in Azerbaijan,” said Dr. Stephen. “I look forward to being fully immersed in the culture, sharing my knowledge and skills with colleagues and students at my host institution and, in return, bringing back the knowledge that I will gain to further enrich the learning experience of my students at Mercer.”
Dr. Stephen has more than 18 years of national and international experience in higher education. Her research has examined factors associated with persistence of undergraduate online students, with much of her research focusing on self-regulated learning, self-directed learning, online learning self-efficacy and high-impact practices for online teaching.
She has written and presented nationally and internationally on topics such as undergraduate and graduate online learner persistence, effective practices for online educators, and virtual peer mentoring for racial and ethnic minority women in STEM. She received the American Educational Research Association’s 2021 Distinguished Research Paper Award on Mentorship and Mentoring Practices, facilitated leadership workshops as part of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Leadership Development Program and was a plenary speaker and workshop facilitator at the 2019 inaugural Kosovo Leadership Foundation in Pristina, Kosovo.
She earned her Ed.D. in instruction and curricular leadership with a concentration in instructional design and technology from the University of Memphis, as well as her M.S. in instructional technology and B.S. in elementary education, both from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
Earlier this academic year, Dr. Stephen was appointed by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and World Learning to the Fulbright Specialist Roster, making her eligible to be matched with projects designed by host institutions across the globe for a tenure of four years. She was selected for her expertise in instructional and curriculum design.
Dr. Vokhiwa, professor of science, will use the award to conduct research, teach undergraduate and graduate students, mentor junior faculty and assist in faculty, curriculum and program development at Malawi University of Science and Technology, which has recently launched nine new master’s and three new doctoral degrees. He will also assist the institution in developing and establishing a STEM center with a robust STEM Education and Innovation Lab (SEI Lab) that will be used for research by students and faculty.
“Being selected for the Fulbright U.S. Scholar award to teach, carry out research and help establish a STEM center at the Malawi University of Science and Technology is an enormous honor,” said Dr. Vokhiwa. “After two years of remote learning, now having the opportunity to further the Fulbright Scholar Program’s goals of developing international understanding, open communication and long-term cooperative relationships is an incredible privilege. I am excited and proud to represent Mercer University and its commitment to international research and service by furthering STEM initiatives around the globe with this Fulbright Scholar award.”
Dr. Vokhiwa’s research has focused on sustainable watershed management, ecological monitoring, ecosystem approach and STEM initiatives.
He completed a three-year study in agriculture at the University of Malawi and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal sciences at Colorado State University. He worked as a livestock officer for the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Malawi from 1975-1992. He served as deputy director of environmental affairs in Malawi and was a member of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. After retiring from government service in Malawi, he joined the faculty at Kennesaw State University before coming to Mercer in 2007.
He served as principal investigator for a Fulbright Hays Group Projects Abroad grant awarded to Mercer by the U.S. Department of Education in 2012. He led a team of 10 teachers and two administrators from Metro Atlanta on a four-week trip to Malawi to collect data for a research project, titled “The Interaction of Environment and Culture in Malawi.” He also led students on three Mercer On Mission trips to Malawi in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Dr. Vokhiwa currently serves as president of the Environmental Education Alliance (EEA) Board of Directors and previously served as president of the Fulbright Association’s Georgia Chapter in 2017 and 2018. He is also a member of Mercer’s Fulbright Selection Committee, which works with students applying for Fulbright Awards for various projects around the world.
As Fulbright Scholars, Dr. Stephen and Dr. Vokhiwa will share knowledge and foster meaningful connections across communities in the United States and their host countries. Fulbrighters engage in cutting-edge research and expand their professional networks, often continuing research collaborations started abroad and laying the groundwork for forging future partnerships between institutions. Upon returning to their home countries, institutions, labs and classrooms, they share their stories and often become active supporters of international exchange, inviting foreign scholars to campus and encouraging colleagues and students to go abroad.
“I congratulate Dr. Stephen and Dr. Vokhiwa on their selection for the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, and I am confident that they will perfectly reflect the overarching spirit and fulfill the goals envisioned by Sen. Fulbright to ‘build mutual understanding and a more peaceful world,’” said Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean of the College of Professional Advancement.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, counter misunderstandings and help people and nations work together toward common goals.
Awards are contingent on a number of factors, including obtaining a secured placement at an institution in the host country, official research clearance from the host country, satisfactory medical clearance and a visa, if required.
Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 400,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and find solutions to shared international concerns. These include 61 Nobel Laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize winners, 76 MacArthur Fellows and thousands of leaders across the private, public and nonprofit sectors.
The program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.
About the College of Professional Advancement
Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement is committed to serving post-traditional learners. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary experiences that integrate theory and practice. In addition to providing general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer, the College of Professional Advancement offers degree programs in areas including technology, public safety, public and human services, leadership and administration, health care and liberal arts. Programs are offered on Mercer’s campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as Regional Academic Centers in Douglas County and Henry County, and online. To learn more, visit professionaladvancement.mercer.edu.