University of Bridgeport Welcomes Six Fulbright Scholars to its Graduate Programs

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International students won esteemed Fulbright grants to complete studies at the Connecticut university

“We are proud to welcome them to the UB community, which has a long-standing tradition of celebrating the expertise and talents that students bring to us from more than 80 countries and 40 U.S. states.” -Neil Albert Salonen, President, UB

The University of Bridgeport (UB) has announced that six international students who have been awarded Fulbright Scholar grants to study in the United States have enrolled at the school to earn graduate degrees.

The six scholars were awarded the prestigious grants under the Fulbright Foreign Student Program, which is part of the Fulbright Program. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided grants to over 325,400 students, teachers, artists, scientists, and other professionals to study, conduct research, and teach internationally.

The students, who will participate in academic graduate programs ranging from business management to engineering, are expected to graduate between 2018 and 2020.

“These students represent some of the best and brightest from around the world,” said Neil Albert Salonen, University of Bridgeport President. “We are proud to welcome them to the UB community, which has a long-standing tradition of celebrating the expertise and talents that students bring to us from more than 80 countries and 40 U.S. states.”

Meet the Fulbright Scholars who are studying at UB:

  • Samantha Grand Pierre (Haiti): A former banker, Grand Pierre is earning an MBA with a concentration in International Business from UB’s Ernest C. Trefz School of Business. She previously graduated from the University of Notre Dame d’Haiti with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. Upon graduation from UB in 2018, Grand Pierre, 28, will return to Haiti where she says she hopes to recruit private investment to her native country.
  • Mohammad Yahya Nafi (Afghanistan): A former banker who is earning an MBA in Finance, Nafi, 26, said he asked the Fulbright Program to place him at UB because of its diversity. Upon graduation in 2018, Nafi will return to Afghanistan where he hopes to work within the Ministry of Finance establishing rural co-operative banking systems. “There is not a single bank in my village, and there’s a need for them,” he said. Nafi previously earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Goa University in India.
  • Seifallah Mejri (Tunisia): Already a dynamic presence on campus, Mejri recently won the Best Venture Enterprise Award at the CT Business Plan Competition for Clean Phosphates, a venture he is launching at UB’s Student Entrepreneur Center. The company will extract kaolin, used in the production of pharmaceuticals and other products, from phosphate waste. Mejri, 26, is earning a master’s degree in Technology Management. He previously earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the National Higher School of Engineers of Tunis.
  • Felipe Zapata-Roldan (Colombia): On track to earn a PhD in Technology Management from UB in 2020, Zapata-Roldan, 34, will resume his duties as a professor at the School of Architecture and Design at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana. He asked the Fulbright program to place him at UB because it is one of only a few U.S. universities that offers a PhD Program in Technology Management. His area of research explores the intersection between innovation, design, and technical management. “Design is a three-step process,” he said. “The third phase is implementing solutions; that requires a lot of technologies.” Zapata-Roldan earned a bachelor’s in Physics Engineering and a master’s in Engineering Management from National University of Colombia.
  • Doha Sabbagh (Lebanon): A former bank executive who has bachelor’s degrees in both Chemistry and Finance, Sabbagh, 28, is earning a Master of Science in Global Development and Peace at UB’s College of Public and International Affairs (CPIA). The degree, she said, will help her to direct her career toward the United Nations or another Beirut-based NGO (non-governmental organization), where she would like to focus on economic development. She said she asked the Fulbright Program to place her at CPIA because she was impressed with the international expertise of its faculty and the school’s unorthodox and unique approach to teaching economic development and politics.
  • Lamia Ben Halim (Libya): Before coming to UB in 2015, Halim co-founded and served as program coordinator of National Awareness Movement, a Tripoli-based NGO that organizes human rights-awareness campaigns. Among its most celebrated events is the four-day Tripoli Human Rights Film Festival sponsored by Amnesty International’s Movies that Matter Foundation. Halim is earning a Master of Science in Technology Management, focusing on Project and Program Management. She will graduate in May 2017 to resume work at National Awareness Movement as it works to help Libyan society.

To learn more about the University of Bridgeport’s graduate programs, visit

About University of Bridgeport
The University of Bridgeport offers career-oriented undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees and award-winning academic programs in a culturally diverse learning environment that prepares graduates for leadership in an increasingly interconnected world. There are 400 full- and part-time faculty members, including Fulbright Scholars, National Science Foundation Fellows, Ford Fellows, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellows, American Council for Learned Societies Scholars, and Phi Beta Kappa Scholars. The University is independent and non-sectarian. For more information, please visit

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Leslie Geary
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