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UT Austin student named one of 30 recipients of Soros Fellowships for New Americans

Corinne Ulmann, a first-year candidate for the master of fine arts in painting degree at UT Austin, is one of 30 extraordinarily accomplished young people named as recipients of The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.

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AUSTIN, Texas—Corinne Ulmann, a first-year candidate for the master of fine arts in painting degree at UT Austin, is one of 30 extraordinarily accomplished young people named as recipients of The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.

Nearly 750 applications from 380 colleges and universities throughout the United States were received from a wide variety of fields. The competition, in its third year, honors immigrants to the United States or the children of immigrants.

Noting that the quality of the applications was exceptionally high, Teresa Sullivan, vice president and dean of graduate studies, said Ulmann’s award is a “testimony to her record and her hard work.”

The purpose of the fellowships is to provide opportunities for continuing generations of able and accomplished “New Americans” to achieve leadership in their chosen fields and to partake of the American dream.

Fellows must have shown potential in the fields for which they seek further education; the capacity for creativity, persistence and work; and the commitment to the values of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which protect the American dream.

“I was surprised and honored to receive the Soros Fellowship and, of course, very happy,” Ulmann said. “Strangely, it feels like I prepared for the Fellowship for quite some time, without even knowing it, just with the choices I have made in my life. When I first read about the Fellowship, I thought, ïthis could be for me.’ And I was lucky that this year, it was.”

Ulmann was born in 1976 in Hong Kong. Her Chinese mother was raised in Vietnam and her German father had gone to school in France. The family lived in Iran and Canada, and then in California and Louisiana before finally settling in Missouri City, Texas. She draws from her diverse heritage a sense of freedom to choose among alternatives and a sense that “home was a place I carried with me.”

A 1998 graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, with a B.S. in chemical engineering and a B.F.A in painting, she subsequently designed and advanced new paper products as an engineer for Procter & Gamble. She began work toward a master of fine arts degree in painting at UT Austin in the fall of 1999. As an artist, she strives to create “a sense of light” emanating from her painting. Working in encaustic, a combination of wax and oil paint, she experiments with different mixes of wax, paint and solvents in her search for the most effective material.

While praising the “beautiful, wide, sun-lit spaces” that are features of UT’s graduate painting studios, Ulmann said the graduate school experience has been challenging.

“I think the beginnings of graduate school are rough — a redefinition of your art, and through that, of yourself as well,” she said. “That type of personal overhaul can be discomforting, but progress rarely happens when you’re feeling comfortable.”

Ulmann plans a career that will combine making her own art, teaching art and increasing the accessibility of art to others. Toward that goal, she has designed a game that stimulates participants to create their own wooden structures and plans a book devoted to presenting drawing as a form of communication.

Soros Fellowships are grants for up to two years of graduate study in the United States. Candidates must demonstrate the relevance of graduate education to their long-term career goals and potential in enhancing their contributions to society. Fellowships are not solely awarded on the basis of academic record. The academic record is relevant as evidence of the candidate’s ability to complete successfully a graduate degree program.

NOTE to EDITORS: A black-and-white photo of Corinne Ulmann is available upon request.