The University of Georgia has once again been named a top producer of Fulbright U.S. Students by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Fourteen UGA students and alumni were offered Fulbright awards for 2020-2021, marking the seventh straight year—and 11th time in the past 12 years—that UGA has received 10 or more offers. This is also the fourth time in the past decade that UGA has been recognized as a top producer of Fulbright U.S. Students.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities in more than 140 countries to recent college graduates and graduate students. As the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, it is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and countries worldwide.
“Selection for this national honor is evidence of our students’ enormous talent and dedication to making a real difference in the world,” said Maria de Rocher, campus Fulbright U.S. Student Program adviser and assistant director of the Honors Program.
“This accomplishment was also made possible by the great number of faculty members who generously offered their time to mentor applicants and assist with the campus interview and evaluation process, providing critical advice and feedback, which strengthened our students’ final applications.”
While many of the 14 offered the international travel-study grants have faced delayed or deferred start dates because of COVID-19, a few UGA alumni have started their Fulbright grants, either in person or through virtual opportunities.
Leyeama Johnson graduated from UGA in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs. She was able to begin her Fulbright year this January as an English teaching assistant.
“I am happy to say that I made it to Spain successfully,” she said. “I am on the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, and I teach 3- and 4-year-olds (infantil) and fifth and sixth graders (primaria). They are in phase four here, so many places are closed, but in my free time, I like to explore the island as there are many beaches and volcanoes.”
One UGA alumna connected with her Fulbright opportunity virtually. Ashley McCray, who graduated from UGA in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in biological science, was set to leave for Malawi at the beginning of January when an advisory from the embassy led to the cancellation of her flight.
“Due to the pandemic, I have not physically been on the ground to begin the Fulbright grant in Malawi,” she said. “However, the experience has been both rewarding and inspiring. As a Fulbright-Fogarty Fellowship finalist, I was able to attend the Virtual 2020 Fogarty Global Health Program Orientation and Training and Zoom conference with Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, and Fogarty Director Dr. Roger Glass. During this time, I have been proactive in assisting the research team in Lilongwe remotely.”
McCray is working toward completion of a master’s degree in global health from Michigan State University and plans to attend an osteopathic medical school in the fall.
Honors alumna SnehaGubbala, who graduated from UGA in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and a master’s degree in political science and international affairs, had her Fulbright placement deferred to 2021-2022. She has been selected as an English teaching assistant for Bulgaria and placed at the HristoBotev Foreign Language High School in Kardzhali.
“As Kardzhali is a smaller town, I’m especially excited to really get to know my students and the community in general,” she said. “I am eagerly anticipating experiencing all that Bulgaria has to offer.”
Samuel Fisher, who graduated from UGA in December 2019 with a double major in religion and Arabic and a minor in Spanish, is looking forward to working as an English teaching assistant at a public university in Morocco. His Fulbright placement was also deferred to 2021-2022.
“I am not sure where the university will be yet, and I will find this out later in the spring,” he said. “I plan to use my interest and knowledge of American folk cultures to present English language material to my classes through cultural sharing. In Morocco I will study Arabic at a language center and pursue my academic interests in studying the Jewish history of the country. I also am excited for the abundance of mint tea.”
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Program, the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program. Since its inception in 1946, over 400,000 people from all backgrounds—recent university graduates, teachers, scientists and researchers, artists and more—have participated in the program. Celebrations throughout the year will highlight the impressive accomplishments and legacy of the program and its alumni, both in the United States and around the world. A dedicated 75th anniversary website will be updated throughout 2021 to showcase Fulbright alumni, partner countries and anniversary events.