First-year Ph.D. student awarded Bonderman Travel Fellowship

Photo courtesy Danny Stofleth

Photo courtesy Danny Stofleth

UW Communication Ph.D. student Danny Stofleth was awarded a campus-wide Bonderman Travel Fellowship, which offers the opportunity to “engage in independent exploration and travel abroad.” He will be voyaging to at least Nepal, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, and Israel; and possibly to Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Laos as well.

“To be honest, I’m just looking forward to the challenge of navigating cultures and places I’ve never experienced before,” Stofleth said. “I think a certain type of maturity can grow out of that type of experience, and god knows I could use some of that.”

In order to foster independence, the program prohibits students from participating in a program or organization, conducting research or academic projects, and traveling with an organized group. Stofleth will of course oblige, but said his travels will relate to his area of study to some extent. His areas of interests are how neurological disorders affect communication, and how mindfulness practices (like meditation) affect communication patterns.

“Seeing as I’m interested in mindfulness practices, I’m planning on spending a few months living in Buddhist monasteries and in yoga programs to learn more about it all,” he said.

Stofleth received his B.A. in Political Science, International Studies, and Spanish at Indiana University; and got an M.A. in Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University. But he is always looking to try something new.

“I wanted to apply to the fellowship because it’s something completely different than I’ve ever done before,” he said. “The idea of it kind of scared me, which is one reason to do it. And, of course, I love traveling.”

He said one of his friends referenced it as being like Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket: something so crazy and amazing, it’s hard to believe it’s really true.

“I just feel incredibly lucky to be given this opportunity,” Stofleth said. “I hope that during it, and through the knowledge I gain from it, I can significantly pay forward to others.”