9 WKU Students and Alumni Selected as Semi-Finalists for Fulbright U.S. Student Program
- Monday, February 28th, 2022
Nine WKU students and recent graduates have been recognized as Semi-Finalists in the 2022-23 Fulbright U.S. Student Program competition. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program funds an academic year of research, study, or English teaching for approximately 2200 grantees annually in more than 140 countries worldwide. After two years of pandemic disruptions that significantly reduced these numbers, the program anticipates a return to typical for those selected this spring.
Over 9000 graduating seniors and recent graduates nationwide submitted applications last fall that were evaluated by panels of American university faculty based on academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields. Additional evaluation committees at American embassies and Fulbright Commissions worldwide will select Finalists throughout the spring and notify on a rolling basis. Once Finalists accept their awards, they are designated Fulbright Grantees or Fulbright Students.
Hannah Banks of Bowling Green is the daughter of Heather and Justin Rossi. After earning a degree in Anthropology in Spring 2020, Hannah has worked as an Americorps VISTA in public health in California. She applied for a Fulbright grant to fund a master’s program in global health at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Banks says, “The continued support from the professors in the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology has been instrumental in my success in making it this far in the Fulbright application process.” Upon completion of the master's program, she hopes to work for a global nonprofit organization doing program design, implementation, and evaluation.
Derek Collins of Hattiesburg, Mississippi is the son of Jerryl McGowan-Collins and Stanley Collins. After earning a degree in Political Science in Spring 2021, he has served in paid internships and professional staff positions in the U.S. Congress including the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. A four-year member of WKU Forensics, Derek continues to coach younger students in the activity. He applied for a Fulbright grant to fund a master’s degree in Political Theory at the University of York in the United Kingdom. “The application process was trying,” Derek says, “however, thanks to Dr. Grimsley, I learned how to clarify my intent in pursuing the opportunity to study overseas. I'll never fully understand the U.S. unless I analyze our socio-political climate through an outside lens, and Fulbright provides an amazing opportunity to do so.” In the future, Derek will study law to become a practicing attorney and law professor, with the hopes of becoming a judge.
Kerby Gilstrap of Bowling Green is the daughter of Kim and Rodney Gilstrap. A graduating senior in International Affairs, Arabic, and Sustainable Development (Honors Self-Designed), she applied for a Fulbright grant to teach English and American culture in Bahrain. Kerby says, “Ever since my freshman year when I took Honors 105 with Dr. Grimsley, I knew I wanted to apply for a Fulbright. I have applied for many nationally competitive opportunities during my time at WKU, but none of them felt like a greater fit than English teaching in Bahrain. Being selected as a semifinalist feels so empowering because it has been my goal for so long.” After graduating, she hopes to help address climate change and development issues in the Middle East and North Africa.
Katie Mann is from Louisville and is the daughter of Tina and Larry Mann. She earned a degree in Elementary Education in Fall 2021 and applied for a Fulbright grant to teach English and American culture in Taiwan. In the future, Katie plans to continue in her elementary teaching career while earning a master’s degree and continue exploring opportunities to go abroad and teach English as a second language.
Skyler Markwell of Louisville is the daughter of Marlena Bailey and Kevin Markwell and fiancé to Isaac Garr. A graduating senior in Special Education: Learning and Behavior and Elementary Education, she applied for a Fulbright grant to teach English and American culture in Spain, where she hopes to explore the social-emotional learning culture of Spanish schools, specifically around disabilities. Skyler says, “This application process was the most challenging thing I’ve ever pushed myself to do. At times, it felt so big that I could not envision ever hitting a “submit” button. Post-application, I recognize all the lessons I learned about myself along the way: that I am worthy of the same opportunities as others; that I am capable of hard things; and that dreaming about my future does not make me “silly” but makes me strong.”
Noah Moore is from Fort Thomas and the son of Mary and Pat Moore, and brother to Abi and Jonah Moore. After graduating with degrees in Public Relations, Spanish, and Arabic in Spring 2021, Noah has been teaching English in Spain. He applied for a Fulbright grant to teach English in Mexico. In the future, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in arts administration and a career advancing arts education in communities worldwide.
Mary-Beth Mullican of Owensboro is the daughter of Heather and Mike Mullican. A graduating senior in Public Relations and International Affairs, she applied for an English Teaching Assistantship in the Czech Republic. Study abroad including a WKU faculty-led summer program in Central Europe and experience tutoring and mentoring international students has encouraged Mary Beth to pursue graduate school and opportunities leading to a career in international education.
Liz Peterson of Bowling Green is the daughter of Melanie and Ernie Peterson. Liz is a Spring 2021 graduate in International Affairs and Political Science. She applied for a Fulbright grant to fund a master’s degree in Global and International Studies with an emphasis in Nationalism and Conflict Management at the University of Salamanca, Spain. Reflecting on her application process, Elizabeth says, “This application process made me sit down and really think about how I became the person I am today. My personal statement caused me to comb through my personal history and discover the moments in my life that forged my passions and goals that led me to apply for a Fulbright. It was amazing to see how things I thought were so small in my life made a huge impact.” In the future, she hopes to work for a non-governmental organization and advocacy-based research firm where she can explore the role of identity politics before, during, and after conflict.
Nathan Terrell of Morehead is the son of Maria and Russell Terrell. A graduating senior in Political Science and Economics, he applied for a Fulbright grant to fund a master’s degree in Public Policy at Dublin City University. While abroad, he plans to conduct research on the perceptions of Irish judges about the centralization of family litigation in Ireland. Nathan attributes achieving this milestone to his Honors CE/T Advisor, Dr. April Murphy in the Department of Social Work. “Dr. Murphy helped me translate my concerns for Kentucky into an opportunity where I could both learn and serve my community.” Upon graduation in May 2022, Nathan hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in public policy.
Fulbright U.S. Student Program applicants develop their project ideas and application materials with Dr. Melinda Grimsley, WKU’s Fulbright Program Advisor, well in advance of the national deadline. The process itself, a period of exploration, drafting, and revision that can extend over several weeks or months, rewards all applicants as they gain experience conceptualizing and developing their intellectual interests and passion for cross-cultural connection into tangible opportunities.
The next application cycle opens in April 2022; WKU’s campus deadline for the 2023-24 grant year is September 1, 2022. Students and recent alumni interested in learning more about Fulbright U.S. Student Program are invited to register for a virtual information session on April 22 and stay tuned for additional information sessions and programming with the Office of Scholar Development.
About the Fulbright Program: The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, counter misunderstandings, and help people and nations work together toward common goals. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers, and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and find solutions to shared international concerns. The Fulbright Program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide, is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State.
About the Office of Scholar Development: The Office of Scholar Development is committed to helping WKU students in all majors and degree programs develop the vision, experience and skills to be independent, engaged scholars. OSD welcomes the opportunity to work with students interested in nationally competitive scholarships.
Contact: Melinda Grimsley, firstname.lastname@example.org