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Fulbright winner studies European ethnic issues


Jude Antonyappan, an associate professor of Social Work, just returned from Germany and Belgium, courtesy of a Fulbright scholarship.
Sacramento State’s Jude Antonyappan just returned from Germany and Belgium, courtesy of a Fulbright scholarship. The associate professor of Social Work and 13 other American professors were briefed on ethnicity and national identity issues in the context of immigration, employment and educational opportunities for those who wish to migrate to Germany, particularly for professional education and for employment in the high-skilled sectors.

“I feel honored to have been chosen since there were more than 220 scholars who applied to the program,” Antonyappan says.

The two-week summer session was very intense, she says, commencing at 9 a.m. and concluding as late as 8 p.m. Sessions included meeting and holding discussions with elected members of the European Union, government officials, academics, community leaders and members of the ethnic communities. Citing it as a great experience, she relished the emphasis on cultural similarities.

The professor has traveled widely and has accumulated an extensive international background, including proficiency in several languages. “Germany and Belgium still look to the United States as a model when it comes to integrating its immigrant populations,” she says, “despite the recent tensions during tough economic times.”

Germany is especially eager to augment relations with the United States, Antonyappan says, because it is in need of highly educated emigrants who specialize in science, math and technology. She believes this could become a bonanza for students to study abroad. Her daughter completed a master’s degree at the London School of Economics with an emphasis on international relations.

Born and educated in India, Antonyappan taught at the university level there until coming to UC Berkeley to earn her doctorate in Social Welfare. She has taught at Sacramento State for 12 years. “I love teaching here,” she says, “because so many students are first-generation learners.” She respects the challenges faced by first-generation learners since neither of her parents had college degrees.

Antonyappan’s passion for social work stems from personal experience. She grew up in a society that was socially and economically stratified along several levels. Even though her family was financially well off, she rebelled against that system as a college student. The discrimination against those from different social classes motivated her to specialize in social work where she could help people help themselves.

The professor’s passion for her subject is reflected in student evaluations that consistently give her high marks. She’s very proud of Sac State’s Division of Social Work, which graduates about 350 students annually.

– Alan Miller

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