Fourth Smith School Fulbright Recipient to Research in Armenia
Fulbright recipient and Smith alumna Kara Marston ’07 is venturing back to her
roots to study the status of women in Armenia. Marston, who is half Armenian and
nearly fluent in the language, is one of four 2011-12 Fulbright recipients at the
Robert H. Smith School of Business. She will spend September to July abroad.
“I’ve always been really tied to my roots,” Marston said of her decision to apply
for a Fulbright scholarship to Armenia. “I went in 2007 and volunteered with a media
company, and again in 2009 to volunteer again.”
Marston’s project focuses on assessing the results of the country’s 2004-2010
“National Action Plan on Improving the Status of Women and Enhancing Their Role
in Society.” She will explore the effectiveness of the plan with a special focus
on media and the representation of women. She will also examine how the action plan
was developed, how the media has portrayed women since the start of the plan and
whether the media has fostered a growing awareness of women’s issues since its implementation.
Marston came up with her proposal after she interned in the State’s Attorney’s
Office and learned a lot about domestic violence: “There are no laws against domestic
violence in Armenia and there is a pretty significant women’s rights interest in
the country right now.”
As for the media aspect of her proposal, Marston said she has always had an interest
in the media, remembering a documentary she made when she was 12 years old about
an earthquake in Armenia, for which she won an award. She currently works for National
Geographic as a digital marketing manager of advertising and sales.
“Kara’s proposal builds both on her education in the Smith School and her four
years of experience working for global media companies in the United States, including
Discovery Communications, Fox Networks, and National Geographic, as well as a leading
media organization in Armenia, Bars Media,” Francis DuVinage, the director at the
National Scholarships Office and Maryland Center for Undergraduate Research, wrote
in an e-mail.
When evaluating the action plan, Marston will see how the plan has enhanced women’s
roles in Armenian society: “I’ll be conducting an analysis to understand how the
action plan was developed and how the media portrayal of women has changed since
the plan came about. I’ll be interviewing journalists and seeing how their reporting
has changed since the start of the plan. I’ll also be researching whether there
is more reporting of women’s issues.”
With this project, Marston says her business degree will help tremendously.
“While the program is focused on women and the media, I hope I can expand it
and look at microfinance, entrepreneurship and other similar areas and how women
Jessica Bauer, Writer and Editor, Office of Marketing Communications