MORAGA, Calif. (June 2, 2004) - Rebecca Brams, a graduate of Saint Mary's College of California's Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing, has won a Fulbright Fellowship to study in Peru.

Brams will spend a year in Cusco, Peru, conducting research for a historical novel she is writing about the Inca Empire of the 15th century. A first draft of the novel served as Brams' thesis for the Saint Mary's MFA program. She received her degree last month.

"I want to really dive into the research and get a better idea of the natural environment, something that is really important for a writer and was also important to the Inca people," said Brams, 28, who will begin her fellowship in August.

In her statement of proposed research when applying for the Fulbright, Brams said first-hand experience in the Cusco region will give authenticity to her novel's setting and characters.

"As I have immense respect for Andean culture and the civilizations it has fostered, it is important to me to depict the forces of Inca society -- including the landscape which was integral to religious ideology -- as truthfully and specifically as possible," wrote Brams.

In addition to its literary value, Brams said she hopes her novel will help educate the American public about the richness of Peruvian cultural heritage. Before attending the MFA program at Saint Mary's College, Brams received her B.A. in anthropology from Stanford University in 1998 and then worked for an environmental nonprofit firm.

Congress created the Fulbright Program in 1946, immediately after World War II, to build international cooperation through the exchange of people, knowledge and skills. Since then, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 255,000 participants from around the world with the opportunity to observe each others' political, economic and cultural institutions, and to exchange ideas. The U.S. Student Program awards approximately 1,000 grants each year to U.S. citizens to study overseas.

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Saint Mary's College of California, founded in 1863, is a residential learning community based in the Catholic, Lasallian and liberal arts traditions. An outstanding faculty brings these traditions to life. The College enrolls 2,494 traditional undergraduates and more than 2,000 students in adult education and graduate programs. The Christian Brothers, the largest teaching order of the Roman Catholic Church, guides the academic growth and spiritual character of the school. Saint Mary's is located in Moraga, 20 miles east of San Francisco.

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