Cal State Long Beach Graduate Student Receives Fulbright Grant to Conduct Research in Trinidad, Tobago
Jennifer Guzzo, a graduate student in percussion performance at California State University, Long Beach, has received a U.S. Student Fulbright grant to conduct research during the 2006-07 academic year in Trinidad and Tobago, where she will investigate "The Women's Role in the Steel Pan Movement."
Guzzo will leave for her year-long study trip in September and will return to Cal State Long Beach in fall 2007 to complete her master's degree.
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 experience another culture, to contribute research to their field of study, and to develop leadership skills and their careers.
Each year, some 4,500 U.S. students apply for approximately 1,000 fellowships 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.
"Having the Fulbright grant support my research in Trinidad is one of the most important contributions to my professional career," said Guzzo, who is also studying to earn a multiple subject teaching credential at CSULB. "Just knowing that I will be able to research and contribute to knowledge in steel pan gives me a feeling of peace.
"The urge to preserve what has not been documented, before generations pass on (those people that have been a part of the steel pan's development) is overwhelming," she added, "and now I can truly dedicate the time that I have wanted to give for so long. Thank you, Fulbright!"
Guzzo, who holds a B.S. in biochemistry and chemistry and a B.M. in percussion performance from Cal State Long Beach, was first exposed to steel pan music at CSULB in 1998, and her love for the genre stemmed from those experiences. She began researching and learning more about the instrument in 2000.
"I had found something that succeeded in always lighting up my life with the tone of the instruments, the rhythms played on them, and the energy behind them," Guzzo explained. "In the world, there probably aren't too many people who have steel pan as their passion in life. Because of this, I feel that my ambition will drive me to document and research the art since its beginnings in the late 1930s. The only place to do this is in its birth country, Trinidad and Tobago, where steel pan is the national instrument."
In 2005, during a two-month trip to Trinidad and Tobago, Guzzo participated in the international steel band Panorama Competition, playing the tenor (melody) pan with the band that won the competition. She noticed how few females from Trinidad were playing that particular instrument among the competitors. This simple observation piqued her curiosity and from there began her search for answers.
Through her research, Guzzo hopes to bring insight and understanding about steel pan's social and musical contexts.
"Because steel pan is a young art form, its infectious nature and beauty as an instrument has not been exploited," she noted. "I want to share broadened perspectives, appreciation, discoveries and understanding within this art with all people."
Guzzo also said that with the research obtained under her Fulbright grant, she hopes to lay the foundation for her dissertation while pursuing a doctoral degree in ethnomusicology.
The U.S. Congress created the Fulbright Program in 1946, immediately after World War II, to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges. Senator J. William Fulbright, sponsor of the legislation, saw it as a step toward building an alternative to armed conflict.
Today, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's premier scholarship program. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the primary source of funding for the program is through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the Department of State. Since the Fulbright Program's inception, more than 250,000 participants have been chosen for their leadership potential.
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