Developing Globally Competitive Leaders

Three Fulbright awards, one Critical Language Scholarship, two National Institutes of Health scholars, 15 Gilman International scholars, four Boren Scholars, and more – the momentum at UNG continues to build for top-level scholarships.

In just the past three years, UNG students have earned scholarships valued at approximately $613,000 and opportunities to study abroad or participate in exclusive internships. President Bonita C. Jacobs launched an initiative to increase efforts to prepare UNG students for nationally-competitive scholarships, such as the Fulbright, in fall 2013.

“We are expanding efforts to make students regionally and globally competitive, and, as a result, they are receiving life-changing opportunities,” Jacobs said. “These experiences will contribute to their success as they become leaders in communities here in Georgia and across the world.”


Fulbright Awards

Cody Bijeaux
Cody Bijeaux is the third UNG student to earn a Fulbright Award. He will serve as an English teaching assistant in China this year.

Most recently, Cody Bijeaux became the third UNG student to be selected for the prestigious Fulbright program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Jacob Dietrich and Erika Evans were selected for the Fulbright program during 2015-2016. Dietrich spent 10 months studying tourism and its impact on the economy in Oman, and Evans taught English at Russia’s Kaliningrad State Technical University. Bijeaux will spend 10 months in Taiwan as an English teaching assistant through the Fulbright program, which includes support for round-trip transportation to the host country and funding to cover room, board and incidental costs.

A Chinese major, Bijeaux started his studies in UNG’s Summer Language Institute and in the Corps of Cadets, where his participation in the ROTC Chinese Language Flagship program helped advance him in his major. He has since received the Gilman International Scholarship, a congressionally-funded scholarship program for students studying or interning internationally; a Chinese Government Scholarship to study in China; and the Crupi Scholarship, designated to support cadet study abroad. He has studied abroad in China twice, once at Qinghua University in Beijing and once at Zhejiang Normal University in Jinhua.

“Going to Taiwan is an amazing experience that I am fortunate to receive,” Bijeaux aid. “What fascinates me most about Chinese culture is how it focuses on the group rather than the individual, which is a drastic change from what I have experienced in the U.S.”

UNG senior Jennifer Hightower was selected as a Fulbright semi-finalist. In 2015, she was also a finalist for the Truman Scholarship, regarded as the nation’s premier public service scholarship.

Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant dean of student research and scholarship at UNG, works closely with students to help prepare them for the application process for these scholarship opportunities. As a former Fulbright Scholar, Lin offers a unique perspective that might not otherwise be available to students.


Critical Language Scholarship

Lyric Jones has been awarded a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study abroad in China this summer, making her the first UNG student recipient. The CLS is an exceedingly competitive scholarship that selected only 550 students last year out of 5,500 applications.

CLS is a program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that is a fully-funded overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. With the goal of broadening the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and building relationships between the people of the United States and other countries, CLS provides opportunities to a diverse range of students at every level of language learning.

“Lyric’s perseverance and determination in pursuing this incredibly competitive scholarship speaks to her character and intelligence, her commitment to international study, and to the rigorous training she’s received as part of UNG’s Chinese Flagship Program,” Lin said.


Chinese Government Scholarships

Three UNG students – David Hagler, Strauss Schoeman and Elisha Weber – will study next year at ZhieJiang Normal University in Jinhua, courtesy of Chinese Government Scholarships from the Consulate in Houston and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Weber is a member of the Corps of Cadets and is majoring in both political science and Chinese. He said he is most looking forward to biking down the Great Wall of China this fall, as well as visiting the Forbidden City.

“Words cannot describe how excited I am to be traveling to China,” Weber said. “The experience of living in China for roughly a year will go a long way toward helping me achieve my long-term professional goals.”

Weber and Hagler participated in UNG’s Chinese Language Flagship Program, which is designed for undergraduate students who are highly interested in Chinese language and culture.

“While the program helps students gain a better understanding of everything Chinese, from the government and economy to the language and cultural differences, it also prepares them to take their place among the next generation of global professionals by bringing a superior level of proficiency in Chinese to their work and contributing their skills to U.S. competitiveness and national security,” said Dr. Christopher Jespersen, dean of UNG’s College of Arts and Letters.


Boren Scholarship, Pickering Fellowship

For Anita Renfroe, an interest in studying languages was fed by participation in UNG’s Federal Service Language Academy for high school students and is being advanced now through national scholarships. A junior cadet majoring in Arabic with a minor in Spanish, Renfroe was one of only 20 students in the nation to be interviewed for the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, a program funded by the U.S.  Department of State that provides students with financial support, mentoring and professional development to prepare them for a career in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service. She won a Boren scholarship worth up to $20,000, which will enable her to study in Fez, Morocco, next year. Last year, Renfroe won a Gilman Scholarship.

“Anita is a highly intelligent, curious, and determined young scholar, and she represents the ideal global leader our university seeks to cultivate and she serves as an example to other students of what persistence and hard work can accomplish,” Lin said. “I look forward to seeing the ways in which she positively affects public diplomacy in the future.”


Gilman Scholarships

Four students have recently been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and supports study abroad opportunities. Christal Martinez will study in Chile, Matthew Preston will study in Germany, and Nicholas
Salter and Darion Gibson will go to China.

“The Gilman Scholarship supports internships in underrepresented areas such as the Middle East and Asia, which are some of the key areas of UNG’s foreign language offerings,” said Katie Lapish, study abroad advisor in UNG’s Center for Global Engagement.

Salter also won a Freeman-ASIA grant that will supplement the Gilman Scholarship to fully fund his study in Beijing.


NIH Scholarship

Students have also earned highly competitive domestic awards that are fueling their career aspirations. Obadi Obadi graduated in December with a biology degree and as one of only 11 National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship winners that year. Obadi is the second UNG student to earn that award in as many years. The scholarship funds a summer NIH internship and a year of employment, which will support Obadi’s dream to become a physician and a researcher.

“Student successes like these verify that the UNG community is committed to creating and supporting global leaders,” Lin said. “Through hard work and dedication, these students will be able to come back to the UNG community more knowledgeable and with a better worldview that they will be able to share with us here in our own community.”