April 29, 2008
Webster University Graduate Receives Prestigious Fulbright Award
Webster University alumna Tiffany Hacker has received a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Scholarship Award to study Buddhist mural painting in Laos. Hacker plans to begin her research by early next year.
Hacker’s interest in Theravadin Buddhism, the school of Buddhism that is predominant across most of Southeast Asia, began during her study abroad semester at Webster University’s Hua-Hin campus in Thailand in 2002. “Everything we studied in our textbooks came alive for us on this trip,” she said, “and I left with many more questions than answers.” Hacker credits Webster University professors Dr. Joseph Stimpfl and Dr. Christopher Parr for her increased interest in Buddhist traditions.
Hacker graduated from Webster in 2003, receiving degrees in religious studies and international studies, as well as a certificate in international human rights. Following graduation, Hacker continued to study Theravadin Buddhism while pursuing a master’s degree in the study of religions at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London followed by a master’s degree in Southeast Asian studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS). During her studies, Hacker learned the Thai and Lao languages.
Hacker is currently the senior teaching assistant for the Southeast Asian Studies Programme at NUS and is researching Buddhist mural paintings in Theravadin Southeast Asia. Hacker explains, “I do not read murals as a static object in an art museum, but as a living text. I believe this is the difference between my work and some others’ work on mural paintings in the past. I look beyond the wall by applying anthropological methods to my research to better understand this living tradition and the cultures the paintings reflect.” She hopes to pursue her doctorate in the near future, using her research from Laos.
Established in 1946 by Senator J. William Fulbright, the goal of the U.S. Student Fulbright Program is to promote mutual understanding among nations through a commitment to the free flow of ideas and people across national boundaries. In addition to providing students with the chance to study and conduct research abroad, Fulbright grants offer students the opportunity to promote mutual understanding through engagement in the community on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity and intellectual freedom. Each year approximately 1,200 fellowships are awarded in all fields of study. Grants are awarded through a merit-based competition and recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
Webster University (www.webster.edu) is an international, multi-campus university, headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. Founded in 1915 as a small private college, Webster now offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs through five schools and colleges in 108 domestic and international campus locations. The student population of more than 21,000 ranges in age from traditional college-age students to adult learners and represents 150 nationalities. The university is committed to excellence in teaching, to joining theory and practice, to small class sizes and to educating students to be lifelong learners, fully prepared to participate in an increasingly international society.