Tess grew up “near Philly”—also known as the New Jersey suburbs. Prior to her Fulbright scholarship, she graduated summa cum laude and in the top 1% of her class year (Matthew Leydt Society) from Rutgers University’s Honors Program, majoring in political science and literature. During her junior year, she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and received that year’s David A. Morse Scholarship for a “strong sense of public service, superior leadership potential, and outstanding communication skills.” Her first exchange program was a scholarship-funded, creative-writing conference in Rome, Italy with Jhumpa Lahiri; then, she attended a grande école, Sciences Po Paris, for a year. Tess wrote her top-ranking honors thesis on religion, multiculturalism, and national identity in France and the United States. Furthermore, Tess participated in three government internships, contributed to the daily university newspaper as a writer/editor, and assisted on politics research projects.
Most recently, Tess completed her Fulbright grant, serving as a secondary-school teacher and grassroots ambassador in a rural, conservative Malaysian state. In addition to extracurricular ESL programming, she crafted English-language curricula and led courses centered on poetry, critical thinking, and comparative politics (especially issues analogous to those affecting Malaysia). While a student, she worked as a Peer Instructor (teaching new research assistants how to conduct, report, and present research) and as an academic writing tutor (aiding undergraduates and graduate students).
In her spare time, Tess likes to pet dogs, create unnecessarily elaborate baked goods, eat her way around the world, and write.