9 WKU Students and Alumni Selected as Fulbright US Student Program Semi-Finalists

Nine recent WKU students and graduates have been recognized as semifinalists in the 2022-23 Fulbright US Student Program competition. The Fulbright US Student Program funds an academic year of researching, studying, or teaching English for approximately 2,200 scholars each year in more than 140 countries around the world. After two years of pandemic disruptions that have drastically reduced those numbers, the program anticipates a return to normal for selectees this spring.

Last fall, more than 9,000 senior and recent graduates submitted applications that were evaluated by panels of professors from American universities based on their academic and professional achievements, as well as their service history and potential. leadership in their respective fields. Additional judging committees at U.S. Embassies and Fulbright Commissions around the world will select finalists throughout the spring and notify them as they go. Once finalists have accepted their award, they are designated Fulbright Scholars or Fulbright Students.

Hannah Banks of Bowling Green is the daughter of Heather and Justin Rossi. After graduating with a degree in anthropology in the spring of 2020, Hannah worked as an Americorps VISTA in public health in California. She applied for a Fulbright scholarship to fund a master’s program in global health at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Banks said, “The continued support of faculty in the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology was instrumental in my success in getting this far in the Fulbright application process.” Upon completion of the master’s program, she hopes to work for a global non-profit organization responsible for designing, implementing, and evaluating programs.

Derek Collins of Hattiesburg, Mississippi is the son of Jerryl McGowan-Collins and Stanley Collins. After graduating with a degree in political science in the spring of 2021, he completed paid internships and professional staff positions in the US Congress, including on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. A four-year member of WKU Forensics, Derek continues to engage young students in the activity. He applied for a Fulbright scholarship to fund an MA in Political Theory at the University of York in the UK. “The application process was challenging,” says Derek, “however, thanks to Dr. Grimsley, I learned to clarify my intention to pursue the opportunity to study abroad. I will never fully understand the United States unless you analyze our socio-political climate through an outside lens, and Fulbright offers an incredible opportunity to do that.In the future, Derek will study law to become a lawyer and a law professor, in hopes of becoming a judge.

Kerby Gilstrap of Bowling Green is the daughter of Kim and Rodney Gilstrap. A senior graduate in International Affairs, Arabic and Sustainable Development (Honours Self-Designed), she applied for a Fulbright scholarship to teach English and American culture in Bahrain. Kerby said: “From my freshman year when I took the Honors 105 with Dr Grimsley, I knew I wanted to apply for a Fulbright. I applied for many national competition opportunities during my time at WKU, but none of them seemed more suitable than teaching English in Bahrain. Being selected as a semi-finalist gives me so much power because it’s been my goal for so long. After graduating, she hopes to help solve climate change and development issues in the Middle East and North Africa.

Katie Mann is originally from Louisville and is the daughter of Tina and Larry Mann. She graduated with a degree in elementary education in the fall of 2021 and applied for a Fulbright scholarship to teach English and American culture in Taiwan. In the future, Katie plans to continue her career as an elementary school teacher while earning a master’s degree and to continue exploring the possibilities of going abroad and teaching English as a second language.

Skyler Markwell of Louisville is the daughter of Marlena Bailey and Kevin Markwell and fiancée of Isaac Garr. A graduate in Special Education: Learning and Behavior and Elementary Education, she applied for a Fulbright scholarship to teach English and American culture in Spain, where she hopes to explore the social-emotional learning culture of Spanish schools, particularly around disabilities. Skyler says, “This application process has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done for myself. Sometimes it was so big that I couldn’t imagine hitting a “submit” button. After applying, 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 doesn’t make me “stupid” but makes me strong.

Noah Moore is from Fort Thomas and the son of Mary and Pat Moore, and brother of Abi and Jonah Moore. After earning degrees in Public Relations, Spanish and Arabic in the spring of 2021, Noah taught English in Spain. He applied for a Fulbright scholarship to teach English in Mexico. In the future, he plans to pursue graduate studies in arts administration and advance arts education in communities around the world.

Mary-Beth Mullican of Owensboro is the daughter of Heather and Mike Mullican. With a degree in public relations and international affairs, she applied for a position as an English teaching assistant in the Czech Republic. Studying abroad, including a summer program led by WKU faculty in Central Europe and experiencing tutoring and mentoring from international students, encouraged Mary Beth to pursue higher education 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 scholarship to fund a master’s degree in global and international studies with a specialization 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 came to be the person I am today. My personal statement led me to walk through my personal story and discover the moments in my life that shaped my passions and goals that led me to apply for a Fulbright. It was amazing how things that I thought were so small in my life had such a huge impact. In the future, she hopes to work for a non-governmental organization and an advocacy-based research firm where she can explore the role of identity politics before, during and after conflict.

Nathan Terrell de Morehead is the son of Maria and Russell Terrell. A graduate in political science and economics, he applied for a Fulbright scholarship to fund a master’s degree in public policy at Dublin City University. While abroad, he plans to conduct research into Irish judges’ perceptions of the centralization of family litigation in Ireland. Nathan attributes reaching this milestone to his Honorary CE/T Advisor, Dr. April Murphy of 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. After graduating in May 2022, Nathan hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in public policy.

Applicants to the Fulbright US Student Program develop their project ideas and application materials with WKU Fulbright Program Advisor, Dr. Melinda Grimsley, well before the national deadline. The process itself, a period of exploration, writing and revision that can span weeks or months, rewards all applicants as they gain experience in conceptualizing and developing their intellectual interests and their passion for cross-cultural connections into tangible opportunities.

The next application round opens in April 2022; WKU’s campus deadline for the 2023-24 grant year is September 1, 2022. Students and alumni interested in learning more about the Fulbright US Student Program are invited to register for a session. information 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 bonds between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, counter misunderstandings, and help people and nations to work together towards common goals. Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals from all walks of life to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and to find solutions to common international concerns. The Fulbright Program, which operates in more than 160 countries around the world, is funded by an annual appropriation from the US Congress to the US Department of State.

About the University Development Office: The Office of Scholar Development is committed to helping WKU students in all honors and degree programs develop the vision, experience, and skills necessary to become independent and engaged scholars. OSD welcomes the opportunity to work with students interested in nationally competitive scholarships.

Contact: Melinda Grimsley, [email protected]

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