In a country where 16-year-olds are allowed to vote and the median age of the entire population is just 23.4 years, Nicaragua’s future is heavily shaped by young adults, says Eliza Collison, UCI international studies major. She’s interested in learning just how involved they are in elections, a topic she will be studying in depth in the Central American country, thanks to funding from a newly awarded Fulbright grant.

Beginning in fall, she will spend 10 months working in collaboration with the Ethics and Transparency Foundation, the Institute of History of Nicaragua and Central America at Central American University, and the Martin Luther King Institute at the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua to study the depth of young adult electoral involvement, factors which may impede it, and how these obstacles may be overcome.

Prior to travelling to Nicaragua, Collison will spend the summer interning with Innovations in Civic Participation in Washington, D.C. The non-governmental organization supports the development of youth civic policies across the globe, a topic that ties nicely with her Fulbright-funded research. After completing her research in spring 2015, she plans to pursue a graduate program in international affairs through the Peace Corps Masters Program and eventually, a career in the foreign service.
As a student at UCI, Collison has been an active member of Global Connect and the UCI Student Alumni Association, serving for the latter as the Vice President of Programs and Events. She studied abroad in Chile for the 2012-13 academic year and used her experience to pursue research through UCI’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program on the role of the Catholic church in integrating Peruvian immigrants in Chile. She has been part of the Campuswide Honors Program since her freshman year at UCI and she will be graduating in June with international studies, Latin, and campuswide honors.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, is the largest international exchange program in the U.S. The program annually funds 1,900 scholars pursuing research in 140 countries worldwide.

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