UNG scores record number of Fulbrighters

UNG set a new record this year with nine students selected as Fulbright finalists for 2017-2018, placing UNG among the top-producing institutions nationally for the U.S.  Student Fulbright Program. Overall, 10 of the 14 applicants from UNG were selected  as semifinalists for the prestigious Fulbright award, eight more than the previous  year. One of the semifinalists has been named as an alternate, and will receive the award if other students for their country of study cannot accept.

“I am so pleased for our students,” said UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs. “These are life-changing opportunities, and their success is a testament to their academic achievement and leadership potential.”

The Fulbright Program operates in more than 160 countries and is the flagship  international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Its goal is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other nations.

“Our students continue to showcase their academic prowess by being selected for renowned national scholarships,” said Dr. Tom Ormond, UNG provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “The Fulbright Program selects just under 2,000 students across the nation each year, and for 10 of the semifinalists to come from UNG is a remarkable feat.”

The top-producing U.S. masters-granting universities had 3 to 11 awards in 2016-2107 and included Villanova University, Loyola Marymount and Western Kentucky. The official results for this year’s class will be published in February 2018.

For the 2017-18 cycle, more than 700 institutions put forward in excess of 10,000 student applications for the program. Students are typically in their final semesters of study when applying to the program. The National Screening Committee, composed of 457 senior faculty or field of study professionals, advanced 3,600 students as semi-finalists. From that group, about half became finalists and have the opportunity to travel abroad for 10 months of the 2017-18 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The Fulbright award includes financial support for roundtrip transportation to the host country and funding to cover room, board and incidental costs.

Nicholas Allen

Nicholas Allen, of Watkinsville, Georgia, is a finalist selected to be an English Teaching Assistant in Senegal. A cadet and modern languages major in Arabic, Allen graduated and commissioned as an Army Military Intelligence officer in May 2017. Additionally, Allen has had the opportunity to study abroad through the Army’s Project Global Officer program. His long-term goal is to become a professional translator or enter the U.S. Foreign Service.

Fulbright - Nicholas Allen

Faith Brown

Faith Brown, of Flowery Branch, Georgia, is a finalist selected to be an English Teaching Assistant in Bulgaria. A communications major, Brown graduated from UNG in December 2016, and she plans to go to graduate school.

Fulbright - Faith Brown

Rachael Bryant

Rachael Bryant, of Dacula, Georgia, is a finalist selected to be an English Teaching Assistant in South Korea. A psychology major, Bryant graduated from UNG in May 2016 and plans to teach English.

Fulbright - Rachael Bryant

Mitchell Fariss

Mitchell Fariss, of Milton, Georgia, is a finalist selected to be an English Teaching Assistant in Germany. An international affairs major, Fariss will graduate from UNG in July. He plans to pursue an MBA and a career in international business, with plans to work in Germany.

Fulbright - Mitchell Fariss

“This is an amazing opportunity for my personal, student and professional career,” said Faith Brown, the first student from UNG’s Gainesville Campus to be selected as a finalist. “I intend to go to graduate school for multimedia studies when I return, and Fulbright is going to open so many doors to help make that possible. I am excited for the opportunity to travel abroad and to share my knowledge with the youth of Bulgaria, while they share their knowledge with me.”

Gibson, who graduated in May, added a Korean minor to his studies even though it delayed his graduation. He serves in the U.S. Army Reserve as a combat photographer and works in UNG’s Center for Language Education (CLE) as a teaching assistant. His work in CLE led him to teach English at Liaocheng University in China in summer 2016 on a Gilman scholarship.

“I met a Korean teacher during my exchange at Liaocheng, and we became good friends. I linked up with her along with CLE to study abroad at Sogang University in Korea, and became very interested in security studies involving North Korea,” Gibson said. “This Fulbright trip back to South Korea will really help me refine my next steps in my career path.”

For Allen, the Fulbright offers an opportunity to expand beyond his prior two study abroad experiences in Morocco.

After studying Arabic in summer 2014 at the American Language Institute in Fez and studying French in fall 2016 at Al Akhawayn, University south of Fez, he wants to challenge himself in a new part of the world — Senegal.

“Going to Senegal will be completely unlike any experience I’ve had before,” Allen said. “I will spend 10 months teaching English to middle or high school students, and I’m really looking forward to the cultural exchange. Though I will serve four years in the Army Reserve after graduation, I also want to pursue a master’s degree in Arabic or Middle Eastern studies, and one day possibly work for the State Department as an interpreter or translator.”

Jacob Dietrich, ’15, was one of UNG’s first Fulbright recipients. With a bachelor’s degree in modern languages with a concentration in Arabic, Dietrich studied the impact of tourism on the Omani culture and economy in 2016. His experience in Oman was extended through an invitation to work with the Supreme Council for Planning in the country’s government.

Darion Gibson

Darion Gibson, of Fayetteville, Georgia, is a finalist selected to be an English Teaching Assistant in South Korea. An international affairs major, Gibson initially entered UNG as a cadet. Through a Gilman Scholarship this past summer, he taught English in China. He graduated in May 2017 and he plans to teach English as a second language.

Fulbright - Darion Gibson

Emma Honerbaum

Emma Honerbaum, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, is currently an alternate to be an English Teaching Assistant in Germany. A history major, Honerbaum
graduated from UNG in December 2016. She plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career as a historian and writer.

Katie McCullough

Katie McCullough, of Ringgold, Georgia, is a finalist selected to conduct research at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, where she will study the “Mechanisms of Yeast Antimicrobial Resistance.” A biology major and former UNG cadet, McCullough graduated in December 2016. She has been accepted into a graduate program at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Fulbright - Katie Mccullough

Anita Renfroe

Anita Renfroe, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, is a finalist selected to be an English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia. A modern languages major in Arabic and former UNG cadet, Renfroe will graduate in July and plans to enter the U.S. Foreign Service. Renfroe has had opportunities to study abroad through the Army’s Project Global Officer program, in Oman through the Gilman International Scholarship, and in Morocco through a David L. Boren Scholarship.

Fulbright - Anita Renfroe

“Nearing the end of my Fulbright grant, I had the opportunity to begin working for the Omani government within their Supreme Council for Planning as a member of a new economic diversification taskforce to help Oman broaden its economy past just oil and toward the three key sectors of tourism, manufacturing and logistics,” Dietrich said. “It was amazing getting to work with some of the highest-placed officials in the Omani government and to see how they recognize Fulbright name. The fellowship has definitely opened some international doors for me.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 360,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards grants to study, teach English, or conduct research overseas to students, artists and early career professionals in more than 100 fields of study.

In a related program, UNG Honors student Lindsey Smith was selected for the Fulbright Summer Institute to the United Kingdom. The program is sponsored by the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission.

Smith will spend three weeks this summer immersed in the culture and history of Scotland. She was one of only four U.S. students selected and one of 60 around the world. She is a sophomore psychology major who recently transferred from UNG’s Oconee Campus to the Gainesville Campus. While at the Oconee Campus, she was president of the Undergraduate Research Club, and she presented at multiple conferences.

“The number and quality of UNG students winning scholarships to study abroad demonstrates UNG’s continued commitment to developing global leaders. We are very proud of our students’ hard work and determination, and we applaud the exceptional mentorship provided to them by both faculty and staff,” said Anastasia Lin, associate professor and assistant dean of Student Research and Scholarship at UNG.

Fulbright opportunities are also available to faculty, and, for the second consecutive year, a faculty member from UNG’s College of Education has been selected to participate in a Fulbright- Hays Seminar Abroad program. Dr. Lauren Johnson will be traveling to Chile this summer and subsequently completing a curriculum development project to be implemented in her courses at UNG.

Noah McDaniel

Noah McDaniel, of Lexington, Kentucky, is a finalist selected to be an English Teaching Assistant in India. A cadet and modern languages major in Arabic, McDaniel graduated from UNG in May 2017, and wants to pursue a career in which he can facilitate interactions between the U.S. government, the Middle East, and South Asia. McDaniel has had opportunities to study abroad through the Army’s Project Global Officer program and an internship with the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy.

Fulbright - Noah McDaniel

Dezmone Valentine

Dezmone Valentine, of Sharpsburg, Georgia, is a finalist selected to be an English Teaching Assistant in Estonia. A former UNG cadet, Valentine studied abroad through the Army’s Project Global Officer program, also. A middle grades education major, Valentine graduated from UNG in May 2017 and plans to teach language in middle or high school.

Fulbright - Dezmone Valentine

In fall 2013, President Jacobs announced an initiative to prepare UNG students for nationally-competitive scholarships, such as the Fulbright. Since then, UNG students across the university have earned scholarships valued at more than $800,000.

Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in government, science, the arts, business, philanthropy, education, and athletics. Fifty-seven Fulbright alumni from 14 countries have been awarded Nobel Prizes, 82 alumni have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 have served as heads of state or government.