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Maneesha Bhugwansing

College: Macaulay Honors College | Baruch College
Awards: Fulbright U.S. Student Program, 2017

Economics That Work for New Americans

For Maneesha Bhugwansing, winner of a 2017 Fulbright fellowship to study economics in the Netherlands, seeing the world as an interrelated whole and understanding that knowledge provides opportunity, both stem directly from family experience.

Before she was born, her parents and other family members came to the United States from Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America. Growing up in Richmond Hill, Queens, which has a thriving West Indian community, she repeatedly saw businesses open and fail because their owners didn't know how to keep up with licenses, inspections and other business issues. Yet, "around the corner, the public library might be offering a series on small-business skills that they probably weren't aware of," says Bhugwansing , who graduated from Macaulay Honors College at Baruch College  in 2014. "A lot of immigrants don't have access to what's available and have to give up their endeavors."

Since earning her B.B.A. in international business, Bhugwansing has worked to connect immigrants and the children of immigrants with graduate education as a program specialist with The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. She has handled the nuts and bolts of administering the rare and coveted $90,000 scholarships. She has helped "with their entire life cycle as fellows," including selection, bringing the winners on board, assuring their payments and running conferences.

As she worked with the Soros Fellowships, which is housed in a larger nonprofit with international departments, she realized that she wanted to learn about economic development.

With the Fulbright, she will earn a master's degree at Maastricht University focused on European economic politics as well as global innovation. "I hope to find work in economic development, and that can mean many different things. I hope to figure it out in the next year."

This won't be her first international university experience. She won a C.V. Starr Study Abroad Fellowship from Baruch's Weissman Center for International Business to study at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain, in her senior year. She also used her Macaulay Opportunity Fund to study in China during her junior year.