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Making History: Anna Kozan ’24 Awarded Fulbright to India

Anna smiles while wearing a yellow nursing graduation stole and holding her stethoscope around her neck.

Anna Kozan ’24, who will graduate in May with degrees in nursing and Spanish language studies, is the winner of the Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Award for 2024-2025. Anna is the first student in Ramapo College history to be a Fulbright Student for the open study/research grant, and the first Fulbright Student to study in India. She is also the recipient of the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Spark Program and will study this summer in Tbilisi, Georgia before heading to India.

Anna Kozan

Hometown: Lincoln Park, NJ

Award: Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Grant

Award Type: Open Study/Research

What does your research in India entail?

I have a passion for eliminating language barriers in healthcare, and I know that there is a lack of sufficient research on this topic worldwide. I chose India to study because of its linguistic diversity and richness. India has two official languages, Hindi and English. However, less than half of the population is proficient in either or both of these languages. India also has 22 national languages listed on the constitution, as well as hundreds more colloquial languages spoken throughout the country. Through my research, I want to uncover whether language barriers exist in healthcare in the country, and how they are being addressed (or not) in the nation. I would then hope to determine if this linguistic diversity creates a barrier for patients to access healthcare.  I also seek to inquire if there is a difference in care outcomes for patients who speak a different language than their provider as opposed to patients who speak the same language as their care team. Finally, I will brainstorm community-based tools that could be implemented both in India and in the US to help bridge the gap of intercultural patient-provider communication.

What drew you to this field of study?

Anna Kozan smiles while wearing a purple nursing honor society graduation stole and holding her honor society certificate.

I was drawn to this field of study due to my passion for eliminating language barriers in the healthcare system. I truly attribute my discovery of this passion to Ramapo College. I came to Ramapo unsure of where my path would lead me. I was going to be a Nursing major with a Spanish minor, and I did not envision much past that. Due to the mentorship of Dr. Natalia Santamaria-Laorden, I was able to complete a double major in Spanish. For my Spanish capstone project, I investigated the ways that patients who speak different languages than their providers often receive subpar care. This shattered my heart. As I advanced into junior year of college, I began my clinical rotations at a variety of NJ hospitals. I then saw this phenomenon in action–patients’ needs being inadvertently ignored, and their words misunderstood. These situations could clearly lead to less than ideal health outcomes, not to mention the loneliness and isolation these patients experience. I was assured by these experiences that this field of study was my calling.

How will your Fulbright experience enrich your life and future career?

I think these immersive experiences will first and foremost broaden my global perspective. I think it is critical as a future public health nurse to be able to see and understand health as not only physical, but social, emotional, and cultural. I learned in my undergraduate studies the importance of allowing patients to speak and be understood in their native tongue. This expression allows patients to adequately relay their unique narratives, which are fundamental to being holistically treated by their providers. Thus, through these global experiences I will be able to approach my patients from a place of cultural curiosity and respect. I hope to speak to as many patients as possible in their mother tongue to create a connection with them that is curative and transformative, rather than being merely transactional. 

What advice do you have for future students interested in applying for a Fulbright?

Go for it! As you prepare to apply, make sure you choose a program or project that is authentic to who you are and your unique passions. With a heart and mind to make the world a better place for humankind, do your research, seek advice, and do not let anything stop you. 

Whom would you like to thank for their investment in your Fulbright journey?

Anna playfully extends her stethoscope to the camera while laughing and wearing her yellow graduation stole.

First and foremost, I would like to thank God. My faith is what inspires me to work at everything with all my heart and persevere to improve the lives of others. My mom is also my biggest supporter, and I owe everything to her. Dr. Dean Chen was the one who first met with me and informed me about the Fulbright Scholarship. Dr. Rebecca Root, director of prestigious scholarships and fellowships, was there for me at every step of my application. Dr. Julia Fitzgerald, who taught me how to design a research project. Itziar Muñoz Aldama, director of the CIDE program where I studied abroad at the University of Deusto, for writing me a recommendation. Dr. Kokila Kota, who inspired me to choose Bengaluru, India for my research. She also wrote me a letter of recommendation and has been a huge mentor to me throughout my time at Ramapo, igniting my passion for public health. Dr. Lorraine Santangelo, who worked extensively with me on my project as well as wrote me a letter of recommendation. She has also been an inspirational leader in nursing for me, reinforcing the importance of holistic nursing care in her classes, which helped me to design with compassion the heart of my project. I also am grateful for Dr. Satarupa Dasgupta, who gave me invaluable advice both on Indian culture and linguistics, as well as on how to write a successful research project. I thank all of the Nursing and Spanish faculty. Finally, I am grateful to every professor (which were many) who encouraged me, proofread, shared their expertise, and more. It takes a village. 

Ramapo College will host Fulbright Day from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17 in ASB 523. Learn more about the Fulbright Scholarship and hear about the experiences of previous Fulbright recipients.

Explore Funding Opportunities Open to RCNJ Students

Anna joins the following Ramapo alumni in being called a Fulbright Student:

  • Nora Dougherty ’12 (International Studies)
  • Christina Dwyer ’19 (Literature)
  •  Jonathan Lancaster ’16 ’21 (B.A. in History, M.A. in Educational Leadership)

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 primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments, host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide.