Two people standing back to back wearing graduation regalia and holding diplomas
Hassane Laouali, 2019 Fulbright Foreign Student from Niger (left), and Monyneath Reth, 2019 Fulbright Foreign Student from Cambodia (right), celebrate their graduation from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

Through research, teaching, and host country engagement, Fulbrighters work to empower communities and forge mutual understanding. Throughout 2021, we have shared the impact that Fulbrighters and alumni have made through the first 75 years of the program’s history. As the end of the anniversary year approaches, we are taking a moment to imagine how Fulbright will grow, adapt, and inspire in the years to come. 

What will the next 75 years bring? Through Big Talk, a uniquely Fulbright invention by a program alum that “facilitates meaningful connections in life,” Fulbright 75th Legacy Alumni Ambassadors answer big questions to reflect on their Fulbright experiences and imagine the future of the Program. This group, which includes scientists, teachers, changemakers, and young leaders, discusses how the Fulbright Program will meet a complex and changing world.

What is Big Talk?

Headshot of person sitting in a wooden chair

Big Talk is a communication approach that facilitates meaningful connections in life—with family, friends, coworkers, classmates, teammates, strangers, and even oneself—by skipping small talk to ask more open-ended and thought-provoking questions. In turn, Big Talk elicits conversations that help people build empathetic relationships and share their life stories.

Pictured here is Big Talk creator Kalina Silverman, 2017 Fulbright U.S. Student to Singapore and 2019 Alumni Ambassador.

Kalina Silverman started Big Talk as a social experiment and video series while studying broadcast journalism at Northwestern University. When she first arrived at Northwestern, she met new people each day, yet felt a sense of loneliness and disconnection, which inspired her to rethink the way that people communicate with each other. Silverman continued to develop her Big Talk project through her 2017 Fulbright U.S. Student Program award to Singapore, aptly titled: “How to use Big Talk to establish empathy across cultures.”

The Future of Fulbright with Big Talk: Q&A

We asked Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors to respond to several Big Talk questions about Fulbright and its future. See their responses below.

If you could go back, what advice would you give to yourself before beginning your Fulbright?

“Take every opportunity to explore and learn as much as you can in your host country. It’s easy to pass on an opportunity thinking that there’s still time. One year flies by really quickly and before you know it, it’s over.” – Kristine Lin, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Korea

“My best advice would be to stay flexible! Even when we think we have everything sorted out, things change. To be successful as a Fulbrighter, we need to be open to embracing the changes that crop up. More often than not, these changes turn out to be terrific opportunities. So stay open to the unexpected!” – Kendall Cotton Bronk, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Greece

“Breathe. There are many life decisions that will need to be made, some of which relate to your research and other decisions that may seem to take you further away from your inquiry/scholarship/artistic practices. Don’t worry–even the smallest challenges will enrich your life and perspective as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar working in a non-U.S. context.” – Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Mexico

“Learn as much of the local language as possible, spend as much time among the people as possible, gain as many new experiences as possible, strive for new and different interactions. Try to live like a local!” – Jeffrey Withey, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to India

“Be bold & proactive! Fulbright is a remarkable opportunity to represent the United States while also furthering your own work and ambitions for a more peaceful and prosperous world. Take advantage of every opportunity because many are once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and you can always sleep or rest more once you return!” – David Bernstein, Fulbright U.S. Student to Luxembourg

“Don’t overthink it!  Some of my best interactions were just talking about things that are second-nature to me…things I do day-in and day-out that didn’t require a lot of formality or prepping to share with my German counterparts.” – Leigh Lassiter-Counts, Fulbright International Education Administrator to Germany

How do you envision Fulbright in 75 years?

“Part of me hopes that in 75 years, we won’t need Fulbright.  That all people will be able to, and encouraged to, explore cultures and academies of learning over the world; and that the threat of war between nations – if nations still exist – is non-existent.  If we do not live in that kind of world in 75 years, then I envision Fulbright guiding us towards it.” – Vince Redhouse, Fulbright U.S. Student to Australia

“I envision Fulbright having a deeper reach. While remaining prestigious, Fulbright will offer more awards designed specifically for HBCUs, community colleges, and other underrepresented groups. There will be more diversity.” – Suzanne LaVenture, Fulbright International Education Administrator (IEA) to Russia

“I envision Fulbright to be even more expansive – offering more opportunities to students, artists, etc. around the world for cultural exchange. I really hope that it can continue to grow – the opportunities that Fulbright provides are incredibly invaluable. It is my highest hope that even more people will be able to experience what Fulbright has to offer.” – Kristine Lin, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Korea

“I envision it to be a platform of diverse voices, where we leverage our position in making better policies and advocating for social causes, while promoting diplomacy. I see Fulbright becoming a flag bearer in finding solutions for the environment and living with changing climate, where we develop ideas and technology to support us.”- Syeda Sahar Naqvi, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Kosovo

What life lessons has Fulbright taught you?

“Fulbright has really helped illustrate that people around the globe are more alike than they are different.  It has helped me appreciate the nuance between cultures and individuals while providing the opportunity to meet new friends and colleagues.” – Drew Ippoliti, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Korea and Fulbright U.S. Student to China

“Through my time as a Fulbrighter, I’ve learned to take a more critical look at my own culture. Cultural practices that I took for granted before my Fulbright, are now up for constant re-evaluation after.” – Kendall Cotton Bronk, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Greece

“To be humble and uncertain about what I might “naturally” consider “normal” or “appropriate” and to constantly ask myself how I might see very simple to very complex phenomena from different vantage points.” – Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Mexico

“We are all fundamentally the same, despite cultural differences. Everyone wants safety, health, and happiness for themselves and their friends and family members. Differences in perspective and culture can lead to profound advances in knowledge when there is free and open exchange of ideas and experiences.”- Jeffrey Withey, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to India

“Fulbright has taught me many lessons; however, three key lessons that have stayed with me and will always find their way into my career as an orthopaedic surgeon include: 1) empathy; 2) drive to be bold and always be better; and 3) compromise for the greater good.”- David Bernstein, Fulbright U.S. Student to Luxembourg

How did Fulbright make you brave?

“I learned to sing in languages I could not speak, in a tonal system I did not understand, and in a place I had never been. But slowly and surely, the songs settled on my heart and the field became home. Fulbright taught me that bravery is a daily act, and as we practice, our ability to be courageous grows.” – Geetha Somayajula, Fulbright U.S. Student to India

“I have learned that even when my family home runs out of water, is overrun by insects I don’t recognize swarming on the bed; when strikes block transportation and commerce–there’s always a way to be creative, to be in community, to persist, and thrive.  I have learned to be brave with being out of control of things in my environment and to embrace precarity.” – Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Mexico

“Fulbright taught me the value of putting myself out there to form new relationships, even when the cultural divide in terms of life experience and world view may seem wide.” – Courtney Welton-Mitchell, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Malaysia

“Fulbright definitely gave me the courage to share and launch some new ideas on my campus, which have turned out to be really meaningful for our students. There’s something about getting a Fulbright that just puts a little wind in your sails – I felt like I had a leg to stand on, and that I had a more receptive audience in the faculty because I’d been selected for such a prestigious academic award. It truly changed my professional trajectory. –  Leigh Lassiter-Counts, Fulbright International Education Administrator to Germany

“I went to a tiny country, 9,000 miles away from home where I knew nobody…By the end of nine months, I had achieved more than my wildest dreams toward my Fulbright project goals.”- Annette Jackson, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Eswatini

Why does Fulbright matter to you?

“Fulbright programs have not only impacted me personally, but have helped internationalize my campus and bring the world to our students. I believe that if Fulbright had a budget as big as the military’s, we might not need a military!” – Suzanne LaVenture, Fulbright International Education Administrator (IEA) to Russia

“It opened my world and gave me the confidence to expect more from myself, and it continues to do those things for others.” – Vince Redhouse, Fulbright U.S. Student to Australia

“If there is anything that the pandemic has taught us it is how we are all interconnected on the planet and how only looking out for ourselves cannot work. Isolationism has never been a successful strategy and all the more so today. If we are all interconnected, we desperately need to understand each other…Fulbright is an incredible exchange program, which helps both Americans and non-Americans bridge the cultural divides.” – Susan Sharfstein, Fulbright Global Scholar to Australia and Ireland

“Fulbright is a mechanism to share and learn.  The ability to travel to teach, teach, do research and technology transfer may be unavailable through other means for those who are not financially able to fund themselves. Through Fulbright, those who have skills and are willing to share are matched with institutions in need of those skills. This is a definite winner for everyone involved. And clearly, it’s not just the research, the technology transfer, and the teaching. The Fulbrighter and the host country, institution, and people all learn about each other. When the Fulbrighter returns to the U.S. all her future students and colleagues will also be exposed to what she learned as a Fulbrighter. The dividends are endless.”- Annette Jackson, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Eswatini

Tell us about the one thing that you shared about yourself or your community during your Fulbright experience that added to the host community’s understanding of what it means to be “American.”

“As a community college administrator, I spent a lot of time talking about the American concept of community colleges. The idea of higher education being available to everyone at any time in their life is quite a novel concept in many countries.” – Suzanne LaVenture, Fulbright International Education Administrator (IEA) to Russia

“I spent lots of time explaining the incredible diversity within the U.S. This was often appreciated and surprising to those I encountered in Malaysia.”- Courtney Welton-Mitchell, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Malaysia

“There is a lot of misunderstanding in other countries of what the U.S. is really like, largely based on depictions in the media or popular culture. I made it clear that the U.S. is not just full of rich white people- it is a very diverse country, with rich and poor, and people whose origins are from all over the world as well as an indigenous group that has been poorly treated for centuries. I gave insight into American history and why things today are how they are.”- Jeffrey Withey, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to India

“During my Fulbright year in London, we discussed, in the classroom and in various workshops, how the British and Americans use different vocabularies to talk about racial relationships. As an Asian American woman, I hope my presence enabled British students of color to feel represented, and inspired them both to examine exclusionary practices in our own times and to reevaluate Shakespeare as a gender-inclusive and anti-racist canon.” – Alexa Alice Joubin, Fulbright U.S. Scholar to the United Kingdom

“That being an American is not one thing, we come in all colors, faiths and backgrounds. There is no one America, but what unites us is our love for progress and innovation.” – Syeda Sahar Naqvi, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Kosovo

The Next 75 Years

The Fulbright Program’s impact is far-reaching and diverse. It shapes health, science, and technology; transforms communities; strengthens education; protects the planet; advances opportunity; strengthens HBCU institutions; celebrates the arts; highlights partner organizations and Fulbright Commissions; witnesses and builds history; advances public diplomacyinnovates solutions through technology and business, and champions international education.

We look forward to the next generation of Fulbrighters continuing to foster mutual understanding, share knowledge across communities, and improve lives around the world, one connection at a time.

A group of younger students with their teacher in the center. All are wearing masks.
Rachel Murphy (center back), 2020 Fulbright U.S. Student to Spain, on her last day of teaching 4th grade.
Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants celebrating International Education Week at the University of Arkansas, 2017.

For 75 years, the Fulbright Program has demonstrated that by living and learning together with people of different cultures we can shape a more positive vision for our communities and our world. 

Over the next 75 years, what will education and learning look like around the world? Fulbright educators, academic administrators, and international exchange specialists weigh in on the current state of international education, and imagine new ways to live and learn together.

Fulbright international educators and administrators, including (from upper left, clockwise) Dr. Adria Baker, Dr. Donathan Brown, Dr. John M. Dunn, Dr. Olga Selezeneva, Mr. Charles Sasaki, and Dr. Adelina Silva, reflect on the future of education and Fulbright.

Education must be accessible.

To promote progress and advancement, all people must be able to access high-quality education, regardless of their race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, geographic location, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. 

The idea that everyone wants access to learning…All of the potential of a human life to learn, that’s what I learned. That it is everywhere, it’s global and it does not deviate from family to family and that’s a real world effort that I think we need to focus on.

Dr. Adelina Silva, Vice Chancellor for Student Success at the Alamo Community College District

We are making progress in the States, I think, in saying more and more students need to be experiencing the world, outside of the United States. But remember that those students from really poor backgrounds, some might say ‘underrepresented communities,’ not only do they have the expense of trying to navigate to another place in the world, but they’re losing income because they don’t have a job, they don’t have money, they don’t have anything coming in. So in our universities, we need to do much, much more to make sure that we have resources in place and financial commitment to help students experience what so many of us have experienced.

Dr. John Dunn, former Interim Chancellor of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and president emeritus of Western Michigan University

Education must be inclusive.

Classrooms and learning environments must be available and accessible to all and they must represent and respect all backgrounds and identities. At host institutions, public schools, and upon return to campus, Fulbrighters learn, understand, and celebrate inclusive education and pedagogy.

Thinking about how my presence as a person of color abroad also helps to educate people in other countries about what the United States really is […] I think for scholars of color and others who are representing other diversity, you know, “groups of diversity,” walking into the room as a representative of the nation really does contribute to a duller and much richer and deeper understanding. And as a [public] diplomacy program these are really absolutely essential.

Mr. Charles Sasaki, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Windward Community College in Hawaii
Isabella Braga (top right), 2020 Fulbright U.S. Student to South Korea, connects with her English students via Zoom during the pandemic.

Technology can improve learning, but all must have access.

Technology can improve learning in many ways by connecting learners to people in different communities and geographic areas. If all have access to technology, innovative educational materials, tools, and methods can lead to improved educational outcomes and expand education to remote locations and underserved communities. 

Learn more about the future of digital education from expert Fulbright teachers.

Now, in contrast to 30 years ago, we do have platforms that allow us to make the interactions we’re making today, via Zoom. And so, it’s not the same, but at least we can make eye contact, we can see people, we can exchange ideas, we can exchange views.

Dr. John Dunn, former Interim Chancellor of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and President Emeritus of Western Michigan University

Education must be responsive and adaptive.

Responsive, adaptive educational systems and institutions are necessary to protect student growth, defend against natural disasters and disease, and prepare for other global challenges.

The ‘5 Rs’ to handle challenges, whether due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or other large-scale events:

1. Reflect
2. React
3. Restructure
4. Review
5. Refine

Dr. Adria Baker, Associate Vice Provost for International Education and the Executive Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars at Rice University

Education must be international.

Education cannot fully inform without international understanding and cooperation. The Fulbright Program has provided students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds the opportunity to study, teach, exchange ideas, and find solutions to complex local and global challenges. From these experiences, Fulbrighters internationalize their classroom and educational communities – as well as their civic and social communities –  preparing students for the future.

I just keep re-emphasizing for our students, our community college students, to visualize themselves in the midst of a world, not in the midst of a particular geographical region where they happened to be born and perhaps where they live.

Dr. Adelina Silva, Vice Chancellor for Student Success at the Alamo Community College District

I have always believed that an international educator is a kind of person…who is extremely diplomatic, extremely open-minded, very flexible, very creative, and, of course, hard working.

Dr. Olga Selezeneva, Deputy Head of the International Cooperation Office at the Higher School of Economics at the National Research University in Moscow, Russia

When you serve as a host institution or you find yourself as a Fulbright[er] to a different institution who is hosting you, there is a mutual benefit that I understood quite quickly and quite clearly and something I thoroughly appreciated. And in many ways it moves beyond just language, food, and customs.

Dr. Donathan Brown, Assistant Provost and AVP for Faculty Diversity and Recruitment and an associate professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology

A Uniting Force for the Future

Education is a uniting force with the potential to positively transform communities. By learning from other educational systems and cultures, we can build a more just and inclusive future. 

As we reflect on the impact and future of international education, we commit to fostering mutual understanding through the Fulbright Program for at least another 75 years.

To learn more insights on the future of international education, we invite you to view “Fulbright Impact in the Field: Reimagining International Education in a Post-Pandemic World.

Young woman with long brown hair and glasses typing on a laptop on a table. Around her are various wires and gadgets.
Fulbrighters contribute cutting-edge solutions to complex global problems, including through the Fulbright-Technology Industries of Finland Award.

During their international exchanges, Fulbrighters come face-to-face with difficult and seemingly intractable problems. In response to these problems, Fulbrighters make use of their newfound academic training, cultural knowledge, and entrepreneurial skills to create innovative solutions that better the world around them. As leaders of industry and technological innovators, Fulbrighters work to forge a better, more inclusive future.

Fulbright Leaders of Industry

Fulbright alumni lead multinational, complex organizations, making use of their ingenuity, knowledge, and cultural understanding.

Headshot of Dr. Craig R. Barrett

Dr. Craig R. Barrett, 1971 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Denmark, is an engineer, business executive, and educator. He is best known for his career at Intel Corporation, where he was elected to the Board of Directors in 1992, became Intel’s fourth president in 1997, CEO in 1998, and chairman of the board in 2005. After retiring from Intel, Barrett joined the faculty of Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. He also works to improve education through organizations including the Carnegie Institution for Science, U.S. Council for International Business, Society for Science, and United Nations Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development. As a Fulbright U.S. Scholar, Barrett taught materials science at the Technical University of Denmark in Kongens Lyngby, Denmark.

Headshot of Salil Mehta

Salil Mehta, 1985 Fulbright U.S. Student to India, is an experienced media executive. As general manager of digital media for The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment, Mehta manages video apps and digital media platforms, including all digital properties of Walt Disney Television, and those of Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars. He previously served as president of FoxNext at Twentieth Century Fox; and as CEO and CFO of NBCUniversal’s entertainment, digital networks, and integrated media division. As a Fulbrighter, Mehta studied political economy at the Delhi School of Economics in New Delhi, India.

Headshot of Rebecca Macieira-Kaufmann

Rebecca Macieira-Kaufmann, 1986 Fulbright U.S. Student to Finland, is CEO and founder of RMK Group, a consulting firm that specializes in advising and strategy for CEOs and business leadership. Macieira-Kaufmann has deep expertise in the financial services industry, as well as experience on private and non-profit boards, including as head of International Personal Bank U.S. at Citi and chairman of the board of Banamex USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Mexico’s second-largest bank. Macieira-Kaufmann studied communications as a Fulbright U.S. Student at the University of Helsinki and served on the Fulbright Association’s Board of Directors.

Improving Lives Through Technology

Fulbrighters improve the lives of people around the world by solving complex problems through cutting-edge science. By using robotics, biology, and new applications of technology, scientists and technologists devise new ways to improve the quality of human life.

Ziad Sankari speaking at a podium

Ziad Sankari, 2008 Fulbright Foreign Student from Lebanon, is a technology entrepreneur. After losing his father to a heart attack due to poor healthcare, Sankari started CardioDiagnostics, a company that develops technology to monitor patients’ hearts wirelessly, allowing communication of diagnostic and preventive information to patients. On his Fulbright, Sankari studied biomedical engineering at The Ohio State University, where he first envisioned CardioDiagnostics. He pitched CardioDiagnostics at the 2011 Global Innovation Through Science and Technology’s (GIST) Tech-I Pitch Competition, where he won first place and received his first round of seed funding. Given his experiences, Sankari sees education as essential to successful entrepreneurship and combating poverty and extremism.

Headshot of Dr. Nektarios Paisios

Dr. Nektarios Paisios, 2007 Fulbright Foreign Student from Cyprus, is a software engineer focused on removing the everyday obstacles that visually impaired people encounter, including  the inaccessibility of visually presented information, barriers to mobility, and the lack of equal access to mobile phones and other electronic devices. Now leading a team at Google, Paisios works to improve accessibility of the Google Chrome web browser. Paisios’ current work is informed by his PhD in computer science, which he completed at New York University through the Fulbright International Science and Technology Award.

Headshot of Dr. Ellen Roche

Dr. Ellen Roche, 2011 Fulbright Foreign Student from Ireland, is a biomedical engineer who creates innovative solutions for cardiovascular issues. An associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Institute of Medical Engineering and Science, she has tackled heart failure prevention with the Harvard Ventricular Assist Device (HarVAD), a soft-robotic sleeve device to maintain the heart’s functionality; and Therepi, a reservoir that attaches directly to damaged heart tissue. Dr. Roche built her expertise through the Fulbright International Science and Technology Award, completing a PhD in biomedical engineering at Harvard Medical School.

Forbes NEXT magazine cover in Hungarian with Headshot of György Lévay with one of his mechanical upper limb prostheses - a robotic-looking hand and wrist on the cover

György Lévay, 2015 Fulbright Foreign Student from Hungary, develops new technologies for individuals with disabilities. He is a research manager at Infinite Biomedical Technologies, a company focused on the advancement of upper limb prostheses. On his Fulbright at Johns Hopkins University, Lévay completed his master’s degree in biomedical engineering, where he conducted research on control algorithms and strategies for upper-limb prostheses. This culminated in the creation of a Game Enhancing Augmented Reality (GEAR) device, which enables people with limited limb mobility to control a computer using their feet. For their idea, Lévay’s team won the grand prize in the Intel-Cornell Cup.

2019 Fulbright Specialist Louann Hofheins Cummings, woman in red dress and white blazer, surrounded by a group of staff from the African Development University in Niger wearing mostly traditional African clothing.
2019 Fulbright Specialist Louann Hofheins Cummings (center front) supported staff at the African Development University in Niger with a learning management system, taught business administration classes, trained faculty and advised university management, and led a workshop on executive education with professionals and government officials.

Building Better Solutions through Fulbright

Fulbrighters find new ways to innovate and create impactful change in a variety of industries.

Headshot of Dr. Bernard S. Baker

Dr. Bernard S. Baker, 1959 Fulbright U.S. Student to the Netherlands, was an electrochemistry pioneer and fuel cell researcher for 45 years. He co-founded and served as president, CEO, and chairman of Energy Research Corporation, now called FuelCell Energy, Inc., which develops and manufactures direct fuel cells used to generate clean electric power. During his lifetime, he was issued 20 U.S. patents relating to fuel cells and other electrochemical systems and authored more than 100 publications, including technical papers, books, and symposia proceedings.

Soyoung Kang with a casual top standing in front of a wall made of small balls in different colors - mostly red, pink, white, and blue

Soyoung Kang, 1996 Fulbright U.S. Student to South Korea, is chief marketing officer (CMO) at eos, the lip-care trailblazer that has sold over half a billion lip balms worldwide. In her role, Kang drives the overall brand strategy, planning, and operations for all global and regional marketing initiatives. Since joining eos as CMO, Kang has led a total brand reboot, from redesigning and expanding the product portfolio to launching the global “Make It Awesome” campaign. Kang was named a Forbes CMO Next 2019, which recognizes marketing leaders. She was also selected by Business Insider in 2019 as a CMO to Watch for reshaping marketing, and by Glossy as a Beauty Innovator who is driving change in the beauty industry. On her Fulbright, Kang studied the influences of Confucian ideology on the development of dwellings in Korea.

Headshot of Anthonia Carter

Anthonia Carter, 2017 Fulbright U.S. Student to the United Kingdom, explores the intersection of data science, economic development, and critical design theory. As a PhD student studying information science at Cornell University, she investigates the ethical, societal, and computational implications of recommendation engines and ranking systems that drive online crowdfunding platforms. Carter is the founder of EGK Starters, which provides transformative learning and mentorship experiences to early-stage BIPOC startup founders, helping to position them to raise capital and partner with investors to fund more BIPOC-led startups. On her Fulbright, Carter completed a master’s degree in multidisciplinary innovation at Northumbria University. There, she used a design-led approach to help enterprises realize innovation opportunities.

Fulbright grantee in a lab working a robotic arm.
Emmanuel Johnson, 2013 Fulbright U.S. Student to the United Kingdom, completed a master’s degree in robotics and conducted research in human-robot interaction. He was primarily interested in exploring how robots can use gestures to provide feedback in a learning environment.
Fulbrighters attend a seminar with Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Ambassador Tacan Ildem (center front), at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium in February 2020.
Fulbrighters attend a seminar with Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Ambassador Tacan Ildem (center front), at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium in February 2020.

Since the program’s founding, Fulbrighters have served as unofficial citizen ambassadors. Fulbright alumni continue to work to forge lasting connections, counter misunderstandings, inform the public, and help people and nations work together toward common goals.

In recognition of 75 years of outstanding service, we recognize several Fulbrighters working in the fields of public diplomacy and service, and explore how Fulbright has influenced and contributed to their careers.

Black and white photo. Dr. Robert Brooks; U.S. Ambassador to India Chester Bowles; Dr. Olive Reddick; Dr. Zakir Husain, Vice-President of India; Mr. Prem Kirpal, Secretary, Ministry of Education at Fulbright House, U.S. Education Foundation, India in 1965.
From left: Dr. Robert Brooks; U.S. Ambassador to India Chester Bowles; Dr. Olive Reddick; Dr. Zakir Husain, Vice-President of India; Mr. Prem Kirpal, Secretary, Ministry of Education at Fulbright House, U.S. Education Foundation, India in 1965.

Sylvia Poggioli, 1968 Fulbright U.S. Student to Italy

Fulbright Host Institution: University of Rome
Current Position: Senior European correspondent for NPR’s International Desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe, and the Balkans

Sylvia Poggioli, with a bun and hoop earrings, stands smiling against a wall for a headshot.

“Looking back, I now understand that the political and social turmoil I witnessed during my Fulbright year laid the foundation for the career I would ultimately follow–journalism: first, working at the English-language news service at Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA), the major italian news agency, and later as a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio. I’m still not sure I completely understand every aspect and complexity of this society and exactly how it has evolved and radically changed in the last 50 years, but certainly without my Fulbright year and the opportunity it gave me to absorb and interact with Italians in such a turbulent time, I am sure I would not have had developed the skills needed to competently observe and analyze Italian society.”

Hammad Hammad, 2008 Fulbright U.S. Student to the Netherlands

Fulbright Host Institution: Universiteit Utrecht
Current Position: Alternate Permanent Representative, Political-Economic Officer, U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome

Hammad Hammad business headshot

“The Fulbright Program was instrumental in kickstarting my career as a public servant. Living and working in the Netherlands on Fulbright inspired me to pursue a career as a Foreign Service Officer. As a gay Arab-American diplomat representing the United States abroad, l have been able to connect with a wide range of audiences and I have tried to use my position to shape U.S. government policies that take into account the most vulnerable — whether migrants or LGBT youth in Mexico or political prisoners in Venezuela — to ensure our policy formation does not occur in a vacuum.”

Victor D. Cha, PhD; 1991 Fulbright U.S. Student to South Korea, 1998 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to South Korea

Fulbright Host Institution: Kyungnam University
Current Position: Professor of Government, Vice Dean, and D.S. Song-KF Chair in the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University

Dr. Victor D. Cha in mid-sentence while speaking at an event.

Dr. Victor D. Cha is an academic, author, and former national foreign policy advisor for the White House, focused on the Asia-Pacific region. In his distinguished career, he has worked on the National Security Council, testified before Congress on Asian security issues, and served as a Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Dr. Cha was a John M. Olin National Security Fellow at Harvard University and is a current Fellow in Human Freedom at the George W. Bush Institute. He is also a Contributor for NBC News and MSNBC and has been a guest analyst for various national and international media including PBS, NPR, Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Dr. Cha has written numerous articles, six books, and other works on Asian security, including North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

Laura Hochla, 2003 Fulbright U.S. Student to Spain

Fulbright Host Institution: University of Granada 
Current Position: U.S. Foreign Service Officer, currently on detail as Director for Europe at the National Security Council, The White House

Foreign Service Officer Laura Hochla stands in front of a large bush with her arms crossed, smiling.

“Fulbright was absolutely my gateway to diplomacy, and not simply because U.S. Embassy staff in Madrid encouraged me to pursue the Foreign Service as a career. My time as a Fulbright grantee gave me my first experience learning a culture other than my own, listening to points of view often vastly different from my own, and finding common ground on points of disagreement.”   

Ambassador Chan Heng Chee, PhD 1967 Fulbright Foreign Student from Singapore 

Fulbright Host Institution: Cornell University 
Current Position: Ambassador-at-Large, Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Ambassador Chan Heng Chee headshot

Chan Heng Chee is a Singaporean academic and diplomat who served as Singapore’s Ambassador to the United States from 1996 to 2012. Prior to this, she served as Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1989 to 1991. Outside of government, Ambassador Chee has served in various capacities in the Singapore International Foundation, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, the Institute of Policy Studies, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. She also served as Chair of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Cydni Gordon, 2017 Fulbright U.S Student to Argentina

Fulbright Host Institution: Assistance and Research in Affective Disorders Institute (ÁREA)
Current Position: Program Officer, Western Hemisphere, Fulbright Program, Office of Academic Exchanges, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Cydni Gordon standing on a beach on an overcast day, smiling at the camera.

“I know that the academic/professional component of Fulbright is highly emphasized, but for me, the cultural exchange proved to be just as consequential —the personal friendships and professional connections have endured time and distance and I’m forever grateful for my time there and especially for the chance to learn about and from not only Argentines, but others I got to know. While I was able to narrow down my research interests, I also made incredible lifelong friends.”

Photo caption: Cydni Gordon in Reñaca, Chile during a Fulbright Western Hemisphere Enrichment Seminar, 2018.

Sam Worthington, 1984 Fulbright U.S. Student to Switzerland 

Fulbright Host Institution: Institut Universitaire des Hautes Etudes Internationales, The University of Geneva 
Current Position: President and CEO of InterAction, the nation’s largest alliance of over 220 relief and development nongovernmental organizations working overseas, investing $15.4 billion a year to development projects

Sam Worthington headshot

“At Université de Genève, I had the opportunity to research a small program in the United Nations’ International Labor Organization called ‘Participatory Organizations of the Rural Poor.’ The work focused on programs to advance the power people must have over their own lives, no matter how marginalized their circumstances. My insights learned as a Fulbrighter continue to influence how I see international development and the role of external groups, including the international NGOs that make up InterAction’s membership. Today, decades later, I find myself back in Geneva at the United Nations meeting with leaders in more formal and high-level events, yet the lessons remain the same: our work must be rooted in local voices and the ability of a people to shape their lives and future.”

Dr. Robert Sterken, Fulbright Specialist and 2015 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Burma, discusses democracy at the U.S. Embassy Thailand with Ambassador Glyn T. Davies in 2015. They stand together with a group of older students.
Dr. Robert Sterken (back row, center right), Fulbright Specialist and 2015 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Burma, discusses democracy at the U.S. Embassy Thailand with Ambassador Glyn T. Davies (back row, center left) in 2015.
Richard Schaefer, 2016 Fulbright U.S. Scholar; U.S. Ambassador S. Fitzgerald Haney; and Elizabeth Guinessey, 2016 Fulbright U.S. Student at the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica.
From left: Richard Schaefer, 2016 Fulbright U.S. Scholar; U.S. Ambassador S. Fitzgerald Haney; and Elizabeth Guinessey, 2016 Fulbright U.S. Student at the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica. “My Fulbright to Costa Rica gave me the chance to meet the U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica following a fascinating presentation on immigration by Dr. Richard Schaefer, fellow Fulbrighter.” – Elizabeth Guinessey

Building a Better Future Through Diplomacy

An enduring testament to the Fulbright Program’s mission, Fulbrighters and alumni continue to build a better future through mutual understanding as unofficial cultural ambassadors, career diplomats, international journalists, political scientists, and citizen changemakers.

Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows at 2018 Global Leadership Forum Diplomatic Reception, standing on a small raised platform with a podium in front of them.
Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows at 2018 Global Leadership Forum Diplomatic Reception.
Sophia Danenberg, 1995 Fulbright U.S. Student to Japan, became the first Black woman from any country and the first African-American to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Photo: Sophia Danenberg.

Fulbrighters not only enrich their educations and advance their careers, they also make meaningful contributions abroad and at home, often in unexpected ways. Throughout the program’s 75-year history, Fulbrighters have borne witness to world-changing historical moments; in some cases, they have even made history themselves. 

Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, and 1981 Fulbright Foreign Student, receiving the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. Photo: BBC.

Some Fulbrighters change the course of history: Juan Manuel Santos, 1981 Fulbright Foreign Student from Colombia, returned to his home country and eventually became president and negotiated a peace deal to end more than five decades of conflict. For his efforts he was awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize

Other Fulbrighters make history: Sophia Danenberg, 1995 Fulbright U.S. Student to Japan, became the first Black woman from any country and the first African-American to reach the summit of Mount Everest. 

 Gorongosa National Park rangers Macane Costa Alberto Jornal (left) and Zacarias Muchambique (right) stack food kits in the park’s buffer zone as they prepare to distribute the kits to families. Photo: Dr. Jen Guyton

Working Together to Solve Complex Challenges

When Fulbrighters have found themselves facing natural disasters, they have sprung into action to help communities recover. 

A flooded household in Gorongosa National Park’s southern buffer zone, still inundated two weeks after Cyclone Idai. People stand on the island in the top left corner. Photo: Dr. Jen Guyton.

Fulbrighters React to Natural Disasters

Dr. Jen Guyton, 2018 Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow to Mozambique, traveled to Gorongosa National Park to capture conservation efforts through the lens of her camera. While on her Fulbright, she photographed images of an unexpected threat: Cyclone Idai. One of the deadliest storms in history, it affected more than 3 million people, displaced thousands, and killed more than 1,300. Dr. Guyton used her storytelling skills to document the storm, as well as the resilience of human and animal residents to raise awareness and raise funds to mitigate the storm’s impact.

Edward Shippen “Ship” Bright, 2019 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to the Bahamas, a social entrepreneur, encountered Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm, while on his Fulbright. Bright pivoted from teaching to supporting the Bahamas during recovery, including through volunteering with World Central Kitchen, sending University of the Bahamas students to Hampton University in the United States, and working with the U.S. Embassy in Nassau. Bright reflects: “We were up close and personal with Bahamians during some of their darkest days. We endured what they endured, and we pitched in side-by-side with them. When you suffer and recover with someone, it becomes a special bond. Seems like cultural diplomacy to me.”

Fulbrighters Confront Public Health Challenges

Fulbrighters use their expertise to confront the public health challenges of our time. During the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, Dr. Cheedy Jaja, 2018 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Sierra Leone, returned to his native Sierra Leone and served two tours with Partners in Health (PIH), providing clinical care to Ebola patients. Dr. Jaja reflects: “Each patient I treated, I told myself that I was treating myself. Empathy, compassion, and the ability to make do with very little is so important.”

In a world profoundly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fulbrighters continue to show flexibility, resilience, and a desire to do their part. Through research, public webinars with experts in public health and nursing, articles, and on the ground efforts, Fulbright physicians, researchers, nurses, healthcare workers, volunteers, and others continue to support those affected around the world.

Youssef Hilmi, Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) from Morocco to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, volunteered at the Coastal Bend Food Bank at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, where he helped sort and package 3,000 boxes of food for a local community. Photo: Youssef Hilmi.

Documenting Critical Moments in History

Fulbrighters sometimes find themselves at critical junctures in world history, bearing witness to major events. On their journeys, Fulbrighters encounter the people, ideas, and movements that transform societies, moving us towards a more peaceful and just world.

Bellamy Pailthorp, 1989 Fulbright U.S. Student to West Germany. Photo: Bellamy Pailthorp.

Bellamy Pailthorp, 1989 Fulbright U.S. Student to West Germany, recalls the fall of the Berlin Wall, a seminal moment in contemporary German and international history. Removing physical and ideological divisions and embracing democracy, Germany was reunited for a brighter future. As the Wall fell, she was working as a translator for an American journalist. Pailthorp vividly remembers November 9th, 1989: “The streets were crowded for days, and after a certain point you could not buy any more bananas […] People were lining up at the banks to get their greeting money and [it was] just a big massive party for several days in the streets.”

Dr. Mary Christopher, 2010 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Egypt, used her Fulbright to teach Damanhour University veterinarian students about veterinary practices in the United States.

Dr. Christopher found herself in the midst of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, seeing demonstrations, exploring Tahrir Square between protests, and experiencing a communications blackout. During this time of uncertainty, Dr. Christopher strengthened her bonds with Egyptian colleagues and students. She explains that “The revolution stimulated discussions about oppression and democracy—people felt free to share opinions and ideas they might not otherwise have voiced […] One goal of a Fulbright is to enable you to view and understand your work in a new environment. The revolution added a unique and indelible context to this understanding.”

Harris Wiltsher, Associate Professor of printmaking and design at Florida A&M University. Photo: Harris Wiltsher.

Harris Wiltsher, 1993 Fulbright U.S. Student to South Africa, witnessed the birth of a new era of democracy. In 1993, Wiltsher’s Fulbright took him to the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town, South Africa, where he witnessed the crumbling of apartheid. As a result of his Fulbright experience, Wiltsher created a print series, delivered various talks, and constructed a traveling exhibition, “South Africa: A Better Life for All.” Wiltsher’s firsthand experience allowed him to communicate South Africa’s rapidly changing society to the United States.

Megha Rajagopalan, 2010 Fulbright U.S. Student to China, is a 2021 Pulitzer Prize recipient for International Reporting. Photo: Megha Rajagopalan.

Megha Rajagopalan, 2010 Fulbright U.S. Student to China, is an award-winning international correspondent for BuzzFeed News, who has reported from 23 countries in Asia and the Middle East throughout her career. For her in-depth reporting on the internment of Uyghurs in China, Rajagopalan, alongside colleagues Allison Killing and Christo Buschek, won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. Her keen journalistic skills were honed during her Fulbright when she researched the evolving role of enterprise journalists in Chinese society.

Bringing History To Life Through Stories

In addition to making history, Fulbrighters also share important stories to keep cultures, memories, and ideas alive. Destry Maria Sibley, 2017 Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow to Mexico, documented the oral histories of Los Niños de Morelia, a group of child refugees who fled the Spanish Civil War and settled in Mexico in 1937, including Sibley’s grandmother. Interviewing this now-elderly population and their descendants, Sibley developed a podcast series and website dedicated to their stories to discover the past and raise awareness of the millions of child refugees today.

Fulbrighters also assess archives and reexamine the past for greater understanding. Paul A. Shapiro, 1973 Fulbright-Hays Fellow to Romania, served as the founding director of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. for 19 years (1997-2016), where he led the museum’s effort to provide focused leadership to the field of Holocaust Studies in the United States and abroad. Shapiro currently serves as the first director of the museum’s new Office of International Affairs, with the goal of enhancing the museum’s international presence and impact. A leader in the field of Holocaust studies, Shapiro has dedicated much of his career to increasing awareness about and accountability for the Holocaust, working to open archives and make them accessible for education and research, and ensuring understanding of the contemporary relevance of this defining historical event of the 20th century.
Tsione Wolde-Michael, 2015 Fulbright-Public Policy Fellow to the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is a historian and curator with a primary focus on African American history. Wolde-Michael worked with a small team as co-curator of the landmark Slavery and Freedom exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which has been publicly recognized for the ways it has transformed American understanding of slavery and the African American experience.

Slavery and Freedom exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Photo: Smithsonian Institution.

Making History Beyond Earth

Dr. Harrison H. Schmitt, 1956 Fulbright U.S. Student to Norway, on the surface of the Moon. Photo: NASA.

Fulbrighters have used their knowledge to expand our understanding of the world around us; some have gone even farther. Dr. Harrison H. Schmitt, 1956 Fulbright U.S. Student to Norway and geologist; and Dr. Joseph P. Allen, 1959 Fulbright U.S. Student to West Germany and nuclear physicist;were selected by NASA as Scientist-Astronauts in 1965 and 1967, respectively. Dr. Schmitt flew in space as Apollo 17’s Lunar Module Pilot, landing in the Moon’s Valley of Taurus-Littrow on December 11, 1972. He is the only scientist and last of 12 people to step on the Moon. Dr. Allen flew on two space shuttle missions, which were both milestone flights: the first operational mission on Columbia in 1982, and the first satellite salvage mission on Discovery in 1984.

Earth’s top minds are reimagining space exploration for the future. Dr. Eduardo Bendek, 2008 Fulbright Science & Technology Fellow from Chile to the University of Arizona, has more than 10 years of experience in state-of-the-art opto-mechanical systems for ground and space-based telescopes. Dr. Bendek works at NASA’s Ames Research Center (ARC), where he focuses on the search for habitable planets beyond the solar system. In 2015 he was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal for his contributions to the agency on the development of exoplanet detection technologies. Dr. Elizabeth Jens, 2010 Fulbright Foreign Student from Australia to Stanford University, is a propulsion engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). An expert in rocket science, she worked on a subsystem for the NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover, which is currently searching for signs of ancient microbial life. She also researches hybrid rocket technology to enable a new class of small spacecraft.

Tomorrow’s Story

Over the 75 years of the Fulbright Program, Fulbrighters have witnessed historic events during their exchanges and some Fulbrighters have been the drivers of history themselves. Fulbrighters have answered calls to action and have led others during defining moments in history when creative solutions for complex global or local challenges were required.  Each Fulbrighter is part of a network of hundreds of thousands of alumni serving as leaders and changemakers in communities across the world.  And, through each Fulbright experience and Fulbright-created connection, we are hopeful that the activities that Fulbrighters are carrying out today will be written in the next chapter of the history books as having a positive impact on future generations in the U.S. and around the world.

The Fulbright Program partners with dynamic and forward-thinking organizations to expand the program’s reach, build diverse networks, and create impact in a variety of disciplines and fields. Learn how Fulbright partnerships help fulfill the program’s mission. 

In addition to the organizations listed below, Fulbright commissions – a group of 49 partnership organizations, most of which are funded jointly by the U.S. and the partner government – are responsible for educational exchanges in their countries. Among their duties, they recruit and nominate candidates for fellowships; designate qualified local educational institutions to host Fulbrighters; engage alumni; support incoming U.S. Fulbrighters; and, in many countries, operate an information service for the public on study in the United States. Read more about the work of Fulbright Commissions here.

Fulbright Impact Through Partner Organizations

A group of Fulbrighters, some with disabilities, at a Foreign Student enrichment seminar.

The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange

The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) is a project of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs designed to increase participation in international exchanges by people with disabilities. It is implemented by Mobility International USA (MIUSA), a disability-led nonprofit organization that advances disability rights and leadership globally. The Fulbright Program is proud to work with NCDE to support greater access to international educational exchange for people of all backgrounds and abilities by modifying recruitment and screening practices to remove barriers for people with disabilities and supporting Fulbrighters during their grants. The program also supports the Joining Hands Symposium, as well as the Roundtable Consortium (RTC), an advisory committee of 24 international exchange and disability organizations that work with NCDE to increase the participation of those with disabilities in international exchanges. 

Two women posing in front of a waterfall. One is wrapped in two blankets and is on a wheelchair, the other kneels next to her in a hooded jacket. Both look cold, but are smiling.
Miroslava Mima Ivanović (right) was the first Montenegrin with a disability to participate in the Fulbright Program. In 2018, Miroslava left Montenegro to spend three months at the Syracuse University College of Law, Disability Law and Policy Program. While her Fulbright was a challenge and a risk, her participation was “more than worth it.” Miroslava currently serves as the Executive Director of the Initiative of Youth with Disabilities of Boka in Montenegro.
Headshots of two women placed side-by-side: Oyuntugs Bayaraa from Mongolia and Sheila Xu from the United States.
Oyuntugs Bayaraa, 2016 Fulbright Foreign Student from Mongolia, who is visually impaired, received a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Arkansas. Now back in Mongolia, she works with the Mongolian Association of State Alumni to broaden educational opportunities for youth with disabilities, especially those affected by hearing impairments. Sheila Xu, 2016 Fulbright U.S. Student to Italy and NCDE “Access to Exchange Externship” recipient, wrote a short resource guide for people with disabilities, drawing from her Fulbright experiences. Sheila now works as a business communications consultant and is a public speaker on deaf culture, deaf travel, accessibility and inclusion, and international exchange opportunities and resources for the deaf. 

MIUSA is committed to continuing to advance inclusion globally with the Fulbright Program: “Mobility International USA (MIUSA) and the Fulbright Program share a strong belief in the benefits of cross-cultural and educational experiences for all people with and without disabilities and the commitment to equal opportunities, inclusion, and universal design worldwide. We are both interested in building the pipeline of leaders through the Fulbright Program and accelerating leadership from those who have shown great progress in their fields. The Fulbright Program has been critical in increasing the number of people with disabilities in international exchange globally.”

The Fogarty International Center at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)

A woman in a lab coat with gloves on explaining something to another woman, also in a lab coat.
To help develop more effective cholera vaccines, 2012 Fulbright-Fogarty Fellow to Bangladesh Dr. Brie Falkard has studied the human immune system response.

The Fogarty International Center at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), led by director Dr. Roger I. Glass, a 1967 Fulbright U.S. Student to Argentina, is dedicated to advancing the NIH mission by supporting and facilitating global health research conducted by U.S. and international investigators, building partnerships between health research institutions in the United States and abroad, and training the next generation of scientists to address global health needs.  

In 2011, the Fulbright Program and the Fogarty International Center of the U.S. National Institutes of Health created the Fulbright-Fogarty Fellowships in Public Health. This promotes the expansion of public health and clinical research in resource-limited settings. Some 42 Fulbright-Fogarty Fellows have made a difference in Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, China, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Peru, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia post-program. Their research areas include Sickle Cell Anemia and Malaria infections in children, parasitic infections in Brazil, the use of HIV self-testing kits in China, and tuberculosis in urban spaces. 

A fulbrighter helps a woman with a medical machine.
As a 2012 Fulbright-Fogarty Fellow in Peru, Navid Shams (left) worked to improve long-term outcomes in ICU patients. He also helped train his Peruvian colleagues to use sophisticated machines like the lung measurement machine pictured.

The Fogarty International Center reflects: “The Fulbright-Fogarty Fellowships in Public Health brings together our organizations’ unique strengths in research, global health, and international partnerships and has allowed both organizations to extend the scope and reach of its individual programs. The fellowship also makes a difference through its support of research in priority health areas of the host countries and its strengthening of international research collaborations, in addition to training the next generation of global health researchers. We sincerely appreciate our partnership with the Fulbright Program and look forward to seeing how our continued commitment impacts the global health landscape moving forward.”

The National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that “uses the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world.” Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching three million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories, and content.  

In 2013, the Fulbright Program partnered with National Geographic to create the Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling FellowshipThis program enables young professionals to research, explore, and promote conservation through science, technology, and storytelling. Jill Tiefenthaler, CEO of National Geographic Society, reiterates the importance of this critical collaboration, stating, “The National Geographic Society is proud to have partnered with the U.S. Department of State to fund storytelling projects on globally relevant issues since 2013. We believe that storytelling has the power to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. The Fulbrighters selected for this program have undertaken in-depth explorations of our world’s many cultures, shared their observations with global audiences, and shown how truly interconnected we all are.”

U.S. National Park Service

Since 1916, the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) has been entrusted with the care of American national parks. With the help of volunteers and partners, NPS safeguards these special places and shares their stories with more than 318 million visitors every year. In January 2021, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), the U.S. Department of the Interior’s NPS, and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced the establishment of the Fulbright-National Parks Partnership. The Fulbright Program and the National Park Service have pledged to combine efforts, resources, and ideas to increase environmental and cultural awareness internationally through Fulbright exchanges. 

The virtual signing ceremony to establish the Fulbright-National Parks Partnership was the inaugural event of the Fulbright Program’s 75th anniversary year. The Fulbright Program celebrated National Parks Week by showcasing Fulbright involvement as visitors and staff at National Parks through its own celebration: Protecting the Planet Day. Activities included Fulbright Impact in the Field: Climate Change and Environmental Justice, which convened scientists, researchers, and other professionals involved in combating climate change; and Explore Crater Lake National Park with Fulbright Specialist John Duwe, who hosted an exploration of Crater Lake National Park and an introduction to the U.S. National Park Service. “This program aligns with the NPS goal to form partnerships to exchange best practices that support and promote conservation of cultural and natural heritage across the globe,” said Margaret Everson, Counselor to the Secretary, exercising the authority of the National Park Service Director. “Participants will gain insight on a wide range of disciplines, from biological monitoring to archeological investigation to community outreach, that will provide lasting benefits for them and their parks.”  

The National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) were established in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt, yet its holdings date back to 1775, capturing the sweep of the past, from slave ship manifests and the Emancipation Proclamation to journals of polar expeditions and photographs of Dust Bowl farmers. In 2021, Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board signed a memorandum of understanding to support archival science education, conservation, and research. The Fulbright-National Archives Heritage Science Fellowship will connect visiting Fulbright scholars with National Archives leaders to conduct cutting-edge research in NARA’s state-of-the-art Preservation Lab to translate theory into practice. 

“We are pleased to partner with the State Department and the Fulbright Program, and to welcome our first-ever Fulbright Heritage Science scholar to the National Archives,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “As the lead U.S. government agency in archival science, research, preservation, and conservation, this initiative is a great way for the National Archives to continue to advance and support collaborative research and academic engagement, and to help shape future leaders from around the world in these fields.” 

The Next 75 Years

A testament to the strength of mutual understanding, Fulbright Program partnerships have been instrumental to ensuring the success of the program and its mission. We look forward to building a shared future through Fulbright impact, for the next 75 years. 

Group of Fulbrighters in Turkey taking a group selfie
In 2016, more than 160 guests from across Turkey met to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the U.S.-Turkey Fulbright Commission.

Over the past 75 years the Fulbright Program has given more than 400,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals the opportunity to create connections in a complex and changing world. 

Fulbright brings these opportunities to life through partnership. Together with more than 160 countries and U.S. Embassies, 49 Fulbright Commissions, and numerous partner organizations, the Fulbright Program works to shape a more positive vision for our communities and our world. Learn more in this article about the history, activities, and outstanding alumni of the Fulbright Program and the Fulbright commissions. Click here to read more about the partner organizations that help fulfill the Fulbright Program’s mission by expanding the program’s reach and building diverse networks in a variety of disciplines and fields. 

Making History with Fulbright Commissions

Fulbright Commissions: Bilateral Partnerships

The Fulbright Program’s success comes from its sustained commitment to international bilateral partnerships. The most notable examples of these are Fulbright commissions, a group of 49 partnership organizations, most of which are funded jointly by the United States and the partner government. These commissions are responsible for exchanges in their countries. Among their duties, they recruit and nominate candidates for fellowships; designate qualified local educational institutions to host Fulbrighters; engage alumni; support incoming U.S. Fulbrighters; and, in many countries, operate an information service for the public on study in the United States. 

Explore Fulbright Commissions Around the World

In recognition of the 75th anniversary, Fulbright commissions and U.S. embassies and consulates are hosting Fulbright Days, which celebrate the impact of these important partnerships through virtual and in-person events, webinars, digital exhibitions, and more. Highlights of each region are listed below.

Africa

South Africa 

Since 1953, the Fulbright Program has connected the people of the United States and South Africa through the Fulbright U.S. Student, Foreign Student, U.S. Scholar, and Visiting Scholar Programs. The program has supported outstanding South African leaders, including Guy Berger, Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO; Makaziwe Mandela, businesswoman and Director of the Nelson Mandela Foundation; and Vasu Gouden, Founder and Executive Director of the African Center for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). 

This connection was strengthened by The South African NRF-IIE Agreement, a formal partnership between the Fulbright Program and the National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa’s research and science development agency which funds the development of critical research infrastructure. This partnership supports South African doctoral students through the Fulbright Foreign Student Program, and is aligned to the NRF’s Global Knowledge Partnerships Programme. It will help increase the number of South African PhD-qualified faculty that fully represent South Africa’s diverse demographics.  

“This historic agreement with the National Research Foundation underlines the strength of the U.S.-South Africa partnership in Fulbright exchanges. It reflects our shared commitment to expanding higher education opportunities for diverse populations, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This 75th anniversary year of the Fulbright Program reminds us of the enduring importance of international exchanges in building bridges of understanding among peoples.” — Matthew Lussenhop, Acting Assistant Secretary of Educational and Cultural Affairs 

East Asia-Pacific

Australia

Australian-American Fulbright Commission 

The United States Educational Foundation was created in 1950 to support American and Australian students, scholars, and professionals. The Foundation, based in Canberra, was run by a small Australian secretariat and guided by a binational board of directors. The first Australian Fulbrighters departed for the United States in 1950, and American Fulbrighters departed for Australia in 1951. 

Now known as the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, the Commission forges new ground through partnerships; provides a rigorous, equitable, and professional environment for all scholarship applicants and recipients; and develops long-lasting, productive bilateral connections between Australia and the United States. Fulbright Australia has supported outstanding leaders, including Jillian Banfield, earth scientist and 1999 MacArthur Fellow; Peter Shergold, Chancellor of Western Sydney University; and Jo Lawry, acclaimed jazz singer. 

“The Fulbright Program takes pride of place in the uniquely close, long standing relationship between the United States and Australia. As the very first formal treaty signed between our two countries, Fulbright has long been acknowledged as the soft power cornerstone of a critically important and productive bilateral partnership, and because of this the program has enjoyed more than 70 years of generous, growing support from government, industry, and the higher education sectors.  

Recently, the social impact fostered by Fulbright has seen heightened interest from philanthropic institutions that have enabled us dramatically to increase the number and value of scholarships offered to both Australian and American candidates. In particular, the Fulbright Future Scholarships, funded by The Kinghorn Foundation, have provided nearly 200 fully-funded study and research opportunities in three short years. These awards stand out for their focus on innovative and tangible impacts to health, technology and wellbeing, which will foster practical, highly beneficial collaborations and networks between Australia and the United States for many years to come.  

In this, the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Program, we’re proud that this vision continues to grow, thrive, and enhance the sense of ‘mateship’ between our two nations.”  — Thomas Dougherty, Former Executive Director of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, U.S. Ambassador (ret.) 

Europe-Eurasia

Spain

The Fulbright Commission in Spain 

The Commission for Cultural, Educational and Scientific Exchange between Spain and the United States was established in 1958 by executive agreement between the two countries, and is now known as the Fulbright Commission. The agreement was renewed in 1994, expanding the objectives of the original Commission and underlining its independence. 

In addition to support and funding from the governments of the United States and Spain, private sponsors include Coca-Cola, El Corte Inglés, IE Business School, the International Institute in Spain, the Iberdrola Foundation, the Ramón Areces Foundation, The Mapfre Foundation, Grifols, and The New York Film Academy. Fulbright Spain has supported outstanding leaders, including Ángel Cabrera, President of the Georgia Institute of Technology and former President of George Mason University; María del Mar Cabra, a 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner for investigative data journalism; and José Vicente Siles, the first Spanish engineer awarded the Lew Allen Award for Excellence by NASA. 

“This has been a year like no other in which our grantees were faced with the unprecedented challenge of completing the objectives of their Fulbright award during a worldwide pandemic. Despite the challenges, it was heartening to witness how the restrictions limiting travel between regions actually helped to foster long-lasting relationships between the grantees and their local communities, and heightened opportunities for cultural exchange on a local level. Both student grantees and scholars alike described their experiences as engaging, formative, enriching and even life-changing, and we are proud of their accomplishments and tremendous growth!” — Alberto López San Miguel, Executive Director of Fulbright Spain

Middle East and North Africa

Egypt

The Binational Fulbright Commission in Egypt 

The Binational Fulbright Commission in Egypt was established in 1949, through a protocol between the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Department of State, and is the oldest and largest Fulbright program in the Arab world. Since 1949, more than 8,000 Fulbrighters have completed exchanges between Egypt and the United States, including notable alumni such as Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations. 

“The Binational Fulbright Commission in Egypt’s motto has been ‘a network of agents of change.’ Through 72 years of partnerships with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the Supreme Council of Egyptian Universities, and USAID in Egypt, we have supported more than 7,000 Egyptian Fulbrighters who have traveled to the United States and 1,000 U.S. Fulbrighters who have come to Egypt. Fulbright alumni represent the diverse cultural and regional richness of the two countries, and have had a remarkable impact on the academic and professional landscape of both the United States and Egypt.”  — Dr. Maggie N. Nassif, Executive Director of Fulbright Egypt

A group of Fulbrighters in blue shirts taking a posed photo in front of a red wall that says "project c.u.r.e."
Dalal Radwan (front row, second from right), 2017 Fulbright Foreign Student to the University of Arizona, volunteers with the Project Cure Spring Break Community Service in Public Health in Denver, Colorado in March 2018.

West Bank and Gaza

The Fulbright Program in the West Bank and Gaza is managed by the Public Affairs Section of the Palestinian Affairs Unit in the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The Public Affairs team and locally employed staff provide the people of West Bank and Gaza with educational and cultural opportunities in the United States through the Fulbright Foreign Student Program, Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program, and Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program. The Fulbright Program in the West Bank and Gaza has supported outstanding leaders, including Salim Tamari, former coordinator of the Multilateral Peace Negotiations; Rania Kharma, Program Coordinator for the International Organization for Migration, UN Migration; and Muna Shikaki, On-Air Correspondent at Al Arabiya News. 

One local Fulbright alumnus shared what he discovered as a result of his exchange experience:

Photo of a man in a suit wearing sunglasses

Ziad Amro (1995 Fulbright Foreign Student to San Francisco State University) 

Mr. Amro, who is blind, is a leading disability rights activist and chair of the Palestine Association of Visually Impaired Persons (PAVIP). He has drafted language mandating the inclusion of disabled persons, accommodations, and protection of their rights within the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education’s bylaws. He has also worked closely with the United Nations on advancing the rights of people with disabilities more broadly throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  

“Throughout my Fulbright, in addition to building knowledge in the field of social work, I enhanced my understanding on a personal level. I learned that “eye” vision loss does not cause “life” loss. I also learned that diversity has numerous forms and benefits; it enriches societies and a nation’s prosperity and values. Furthermore, I discovered that I could achieve whatever I wanted as long as I believed in the value for humanity.”  

South and Central Asia

India

United States-India Educational Foundation 

The United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) offers educational advising, fellowship support, and the facilitation of academic dialogue between the United States and India. Since its founding in 1950 as the United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI), the organization has awarded approximately 20,000 Fulbright, Fulbright-Nehru, and other prestigious scholarships in almost every academic discipline. USIEF has supported outstanding leaders including Vikram Seth, an award-winning Indian novelist; Purnima Mane, reproductive health expert and former president and CEO of Pathfinder International; and Tejendra Khanna, former Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. 

In 2008, the organization adopted a new name: the United States-India Educational Foundation. This name signals a new identity, a “commitment from the Government of India to join the United States as an equal partner in the funding and governance of the Fulbright Program and also reflects the true bi-national nature of the program,” says Adam J. Grotsky, the Executive Director of the United States-India Educational Foundation. 

“It is a privilege to spearhead the largest Fulbright Scholar Program in the world. While merit is the prime criteria for selection, the United States-India Educational Foundation has implemented a multi-pronged approach to bolster candidate diversity through extensive and targeted outreach and promotion of the Fulbright Program in underserved regions of India, at minority serving institutions, and at academic forums like the Women’s Science Congress. As a result, the Fulbrighters from India represent the great diversity of this country, with about 18% coming from underserved regions, 13% from religious minority groups, and with 50% of our fellows being women.” — Adam J. Grotsky, Executive Director of the United States-India Educational Foundation

Western Hemisphere

Peru

The Fulbright Commission in Peru  

Since its founding in 1956, Fulbright Peru has awarded more than 2,000 scholarships to Peruvian citizens and more than 1,200 scholarships to U.S. citizens to study, teach, and conduct research. Fulbright Peru has supported outstanding leaders, including Beatriz Merino, the first female Prime Minister of Peru; Francisco Sagasti, interim president of Peru; and Jaime Saavedra, Global Director of Education at The World Bank. 

“Diversity and inclusion are top priorities for the Commission in Peru, and we have made several changes to the way we conduct outreach activities and manage selection processes. Now, not only do we appreciate the skills and achievements of our candidates but recognize the challenges they had to face to become who they are. This change has led to an increase of candidates from diverse backgrounds and life paths, bringing with them innovative solutions and an enormous potential to contribute. 

International education can be life-changing for individuals who are willing and able to break the glass ceiling that affects communities. As such, carrying out activities as part of the Fulbright Program to Peru offers grantees an opportunity to rethink what ties us together as a society, how we encounter difficulties, and explore possibilities to innovate and inspire. The U.S.- Peru cooperation has funded several initiatives leading to support vulnerable communities and has shown its commitment to shared values and advancing an agenda for education and mutual understanding.” — Dr. Laura Balbuena, Executive Director of Fulbright Peru

Fulbright: Past and Present

Dig deep into the University of Arkansas’ University Libraries Digital Collection, which includes photographs, binational commission agreements, and reports from the United States and around the world.

Historical black and white photo of students at the University of California, Berkeley receiving instruction in South Asian languages from a Fulbrighter.
Students at the University of California, Berkeley receive instruction in South Asian languages from a Fulbrighter, undated. Provided by the University of Arkansas
Historical black and white photo of a group of men in suits standing against a wall at the U.S. Educational Foundation in Thailand.
Mr. Luang Sukhum (second from left), Chairman of U.S. Educational Foundation in Thailand, with officers of the U.S. Department of State, October 31, 1960. Provided by the University of Arkansas
Historical black and white photo of more than 40 scholars from the United States at their Fulbright orientation in India.
In September 1961, more than 40 scholars from the United States began their Fulbright Program experience at orientation in India. Provided by the University of Arkansas
Historical black and white photo of the signing of the Educational Exchange agreement between the United States and Ethiopia, 1961.
On December 6, 1961, the Educational Exchange agreement was signed between the United States and Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Left to right: Fred Teal, Assistant Legal Adviser for Cultural Relations and Public Affairs; American Ambassador to Ethiopia Arthur L. Richards; and His Excellency, Ethiopian Minister of State for Education, Ato Gabre Meskal Kifle-Egzy. Provided by the University of Arkansas
Historical black and white photo of U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Walter P. McConaughy speaking to a group of local Pakistani students.
On August 25, 1964, a reception was given by U.S. Ambassador Walter P. McConaughy to Pakistan to introduce the Project Pakistan Group to local Pakistani students. Provided by the University of Arkansas

Photo credits: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Historical Collection (MC 468), box 342, Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville. 

For 75 years, Fulbrighters have created art that has inspired individuals, communities, and the world. From award-winning, globally recognized Fulbright luminaries like Renée Fleming, Philip Glass, and Maya Angelou, to cutting-edge artists and changemakers, Fulbrighters create not only creative, beautiful, and thought-provoking works, but through their art they also strengthen cross-cultural ties, champion diverse perspectives, and inspire communities.

As we remember the past and look to the future, we invite you to travel around the world with us to learn about 23 Fulbright alumni making a lasting impact through visual and performing arts, literature, music, and more.

If you have trouble viewing the StoryMap below, please click here for the full-sized version, which will open in a new tab on your browser.

On May 24, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) recognized 20 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as Fulbright HBCU Institutional Leaders, commending their noteworthy engagement with the Fulbright Program. These Fulbright HBCU Institutional Leaders were recognized as having played a special role in making sure that students, faculty, and administrators from all backgrounds have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the Fulbright Program.  

As the Fulbright Program celebrates its 75th anniversary, it is important to acknowledge the role that HBCUs have played in expanding access to Fulbright awards. 

HBCUs were established to serve the African American community by providing outstanding education during a time when many institutions of higher education were closed to African Americans. Today, more than 100 HBCUs continue to fulfill this mission, preparing future leaders for international service and learning. The Fulbright HBCU Institutional Leaders recognition is one example of many ways that the Fulbright Program has engaged with HBCUs throughout its history, some other examples include:  

  • Involving HBCU presidents and alumni as members of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board since the program’s earliest days. Dr. Charles S. Johnson, then-President of Fisk University, was on the inaugural policy-making board in the 1940s; later board members have included: Dr. Sherman D. Scruggs, then-President of Lincoln University of Missouri; Dr. Felton G. Clark, then-President of Southern University; and world-renowned historian, Fisk University alumnus, and five-time Fulbrighter Dr. John Hope Franklin, who served as the chair of the board in the 1960s. 
  • Supporting HBCU leaders who have received Fulbright awards. Some examples of prominent Fulbright alumni include: Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, President of Prairie View A&M University; Dr. Prezell Robinson, President Emeritus and alumnus of Saint Augustine’s University; and Dr. Ivory Nelson, President Emeritus of Lincoln University of Pennsylvania. 
  • Recognizing the key role played by Fulbright Program Advisers (FPAs) in successfully guiding potential applicants and producing successful Fulbright student grantees. Long-serving FPAs include Dr. Sandye McIntyre and Dr. Carlene Leggett from Morgan State University, and Dr. Margery Ganz from Spelman College. 
  • Visiting HBCU campuses countless times to help promote awareness of the Fulbright program opportunities among students and faculty. 
  • Featuring HBCU alumni as Fulbright Student and Scholar Alumni Ambassadors, who represent the Program to potential applicants and other stakeholders by sharing their experience and perspective.  
  • Spotlighting the success of HBCU alumni and campuses by sharing stories online through Fulbright websites such as fulbright75.org and on social media. To celebrate the announcement of the 2019-20 Fulbright HBCU Institutional Leaders, the Fulbright Program flagship social media accounts (FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram) will share HBCU-related stories and videos the week of May 24, including a Twitter Chat with the Fulbright HBCU affinity group on May 27. 

The Fulbright Program is committed to recognizing and supporting the many HBCU students, faculty, and administrators who make a difference in our communities and world. 

Bringing the World to HBCUs

Dedicated HBCU faculty members and administrators use the Fulbright Program to enrich their campuses and careers, build international linkages, and help internationalize HBCU campuses by hosting visiting Fulbright scholars and students. 

Dr. Kathie Stromile Golden, 2004 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Azerbaijan, and an alumna of Southern University and A&M College, is an American political scientist and international education leader. An expert in academic programming, curriculum development, and faculty exchanges, Dr. Golden is the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Director of International Programs at Mississippi Valley State University, the country’s youngest HBCU. She has directed higher education partnership programs in Liberia, Mauritania, and Azerbaijan; served as Project Director for the Mississippi Consortium for International Development’s Higher Education and Development Project for Iraq; oversaw a $38 million budget for The International Development Partnerships Activity at the United Negro College Fund; and held positions at Morris Brown College, Morgan State University, and Southern University. As a 2004 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Azerbaijan, Dr. Golden lectured and conducted research on “Environmental Management for Sustainable Human Development” at The Academy of Public Administration in Baku. She is Executive Director of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and Director of the Graduate Assistantship Program.  

Dr. Lawrence Carter, Sr. at Morehouse College.

Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter, Sr., 1994 Fulbright-Hays Scholar to Brazil, is an American theologian, historian, professor, author, and civil rights expert. Dr. Carter’s HBCU journey began at a high school event in 1958, where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. advised him to matriculate at Morehouse College; Dr. Carter would spend the next four decades at Morehouse. In 1979, he became the inaugural Dean of the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel. Since then he has served as Professor of Religion, College Archivist, Curator, and Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. College of Pastoral Leadership, as well as founding the 500-member Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel Assistants Pre-seminarians Program. To advance interfaith understanding, Dr. Carter commissioned the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Institute for Ethics and Reconciliation in 1999, and created the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Community Builder’s Prize of the Morehouse Chapel in 2001. Dr. Carter has also served as Associate Dean of Daniel L. Marsh Chapel at Boston University, taught at Harvard University Divinity School, and has served as coordinator of African American studies at Simmons College. Dr. Carter shared “It was a profound and unforgettable experience…This Fulbright-Hays trip through Brazil is the closest experience I have had in 42 years in benefiting from a sabbatical. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to enhance my scholarship in the field of ethics and religion.” 

Dr. Sudhakar Jamkhandi (left) presents Maneesh Pandeya, a former political journalist and 2018 Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence from India at Delaware State University, with a certificate of appreciation for his presentation of “India’s Customs and Traditions” to students, faculty, and community leaders at Bluefield State College.

Bluefield State College (BSC), an HBCU located in Bluefield, West Virginia, makes engagement with Fulbright an institutional priority. Dr. Sudhakar Jamkhandi, Director of the Office of International Initiatives and Professor of English, works to internationalize Bluefield State through the Fulbright Program. Through his “Windows of the World” lecture series, visiting Fulbrighters participating in the Scholar-in-Residence (SIR) and Outreach Lecturing Fund (OLF) Programs have helped public school students, BSC students, faculty, and community members gain a greater understanding and appreciation for other cultures and the visiting scholars’ areas of expertise. Bluefield State is the only higher education institution in West Virginia that shares this vital international resource with area public schools, building ties with residents in southern West Virginia and Virginia.  

2016 Fulbright Visiting Scholars visit Howard University to learn about African American contributions to the sciences and medicine.

HBCU Excellence Abroad

HBCU alumni use their education and thirst for knowledge to advance their careers at home and represent the diversity of the United States abroad. 

Dr. John Wesley Manigaulte, 1949 Fulbright U.S. Student to Italy and Howard University alumnus, was a distinguished scholar, archivist, American Civil Rights fighter, and community worker. Expanding his knowledge as part of the inaugural cohort of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Dr. Manigaulte overcame racial barriers as lecturer of history at Queensborough Community College in New York. Slowly gaining recognition as a historian, he became a professor and department head of the Social Science Department, and President of the Queensborough Chapter of the American Association of University Professors. Traveling to Italy to further his research projects, he became known for his scholarship on Italian politician Giuseppe Mazzini. At the same time, he instituted the first courses in Black history at his institution, and worked to foster interfaith, interracial, and intercultural good will. A founding member of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Fund for children with financial needs, Dr. Manigaulte continued to give back to his Suffolk County, New York community until his death. 

Ashleigh Brown-Grier (center) with students at American Music Idol Singing Competition and American Music English Camps in Marang, Malaysia.

Ashleigh Brown-Grier, 2016 Fulbright U.S. Student English Teaching Assistant to Malaysia and alumna of Talladega College and Morgan State University, is a Ph.D. candidate at Howard University, where she is studying internationalization at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). As a Fulbrighter, she taught English, hosted weekly English workshops, and coordinated immersive, country-wide English camps at a secondary school in rural Terengganu, Malaysia. She worked with students to create and publish Palatable Poems and Succulent Pe’s, a book of original poems and favorite recipes. Brown-Grier has worked as a special education teacher, completed a master’s degree in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania, and interned at NAFSA: Association of International Educators. She also founded Fulbright HBCU, a participant-run affinity group that supports interest in international opportunities for HBCU students, and International HBCU Xchange

These outstanding alumni are among the thousands of Fulbrighters who have demonstrated how international educational and cultural exchange drive opportunity and promotes achievement at HBCUs. Beyond their personal successes, these talented Fulbrighters have provided educational opportunities in their host communities and, after returning to their home communities, have given back through service and leadership. The Fulbright Program’s strategic partners, including The Posse Foundation, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Reach the World, and HBCUs themselves, promote inclusive success, internationalize U.S. students and communities, and build long-term international connections.  

“The Fulbright spirit breaks down barriers to global engagement, inspiring the next generation of curious and compassionate global citizens in the United States.”

Reach the World

More than a simple recognition of academic and professional achievement, a Fulbright award is an acknowledgement of the power of participants to effect change in their host and home communities. Alumni return from the Fulbright experience ready to spread their newfound knowledge and use their successes as inspiration for the next generation.

Partners for Opportunity

The Fulbright Program builds partnerships with value-aligned organizations to assist in the promotion of the Fulbright Program by identifying and advising highly motivated, open-minded people with a strong interest in promoting the Fulbright Program’s mission. These Fulbright Outreach Partners are a diverse network of leadership organizations, minority-serving associations, and professional institutes who can help reach populations that have been historically underrepresented in educational and cultural exchange programs. The Posse Foundation and Reach the World are two of Fulbright’s partners, inspiring a new generation of Fulbrighters to broaden their horizons and give back to their communities.

Anthony Sis (bottom right), 2014 Fulbright U.S. Student English Teaching Assistant to Portugal, with his Connecticut College Posse cohort.
Anthony Sis (bottom right), 2014 Fulbright U.S. Student English Teaching Assistant to Portugal, with his Connecticut College Posse cohort. “The Fulbright is so important to me,” says Sis. “As a first-generation college student, I realize that I have been afforded an opportunity that I—much less my family—never thought about. I always try to focus on my passions and Fulbright will serve as a catalyst for innovative ways to merge these passions with education.” Sis currently serves as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Learning Consultant at Cornell University.

The Posse Foundation

The Posse Foundation identifies, recruits, and trains the next generation of diverse leaders. Posse Scholars receive full-tuition scholarships from partner colleges and universities and work with each other to develop leadership skills. 

By expanding educational access and building inclusive campus environments, The Posse Foundation and its partner institutions promote higher graduation rates and provide a springboard for future achievement and excellence. Posse’s numbers speak for themselves: since 1989, the Foundation has produced more than 10,000 Scholars, of which 57 percent are first-generation college students.

Since 2001, more than 100 Posse Scholars have won Fulbright awards, helping these students to build new relationships and skills abroad. Through Fulbright, Posse Scholars have travelled to more than 40 countries as English Teaching Assistants, graduate students, and researchers. The Posse Foundation recognizes that “these coveted awards, and the unique learning experiences they provide, help our Scholars to deepen their understanding and sharpen their leadership skills. We are proud that so many of our students have been able to reap the tremendous benefits the Fulbright Program affords.”

Samson Lim, 2010 Fulbright U.S. Student to Germany, 2012 Fulbright Alumni Ambassador, and former Posse Foundation staff member, furthers social mobility through education. As a Fulbrighter, his project, “A Fair Shot for All: An Ethnographic Study on Access to Higher Education in Berlin” analyzed how students, parents, and teachers perceive access to higher education in Berlin as a means of social mobility. Beyond his research, Lim volunteered as a guest speaker in the Meet U.S. Educational Outreach Program, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. After his time in Germany, Lim applied his research and international experience as National Director of Graduate and Fellowship Programs at The Posse Foundation, ensuring the next generation of Posse Scholars can take advantage of international exchange. Lim serves as Founder and Executive Director of Scholarship Junkies, a scholarship resource program working to help students fund their higher education, and is a member of the Advisory Group of the Washington Scholarship Coalition and the Board of Advisors for  BETTERGRADS. Lim’s journey continues as a Class of 2021 J.D. Candidate at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

Taniqua Huguley with mic
Taniqua Huguley moderated a “Women at the Summit” event at her alma mater, Trinity College, in February 2019.

Taniqua Huguley, 2017 Fulbright U.S. Student to Trinidad and Tobago and a Posse Scholar, is the founder of Black Girls Achieve, an empowerment program for Black girls around the world. On her Fulbright, Huguleyworked at St. Jude’s School for Girls, the only all-girls juvenile detention facility in Trinidad. Her research focused on the intersectional factors that led girls to break the law in Trinidad and examined juvenile detention programs from a rehabilitative perspective. Huguley established “Trini Girls Rock!”, providing yoga workshops and other wellness programs in conjunction with a financial literacy program for St. Jude’s residents. In addition to her research, Huguley served on the Executive Board of Propelling Young Ladies Who Aspire to Redefine and Reinvent (PYLARR), and participated in community discussions and cultural and academic events. Upon return from her Fulbright award, Huguley served as Outreach Director at Open Communities Alliance, a civil rights organization that focuses on desegregating housing in the state of Connecticut. As a 2019 Fulbright Alumni Ambassador, Huguley continues to provide mentorship and outreach to Posse Scholars and students from across the United States. 

As a result of his Posse and Fulbright experiences, Ryan Letada believes he is “capable of making a positive dent for my family and chosen family, business, community and, ultimately, the universe.”

Ryan Letada, 2008 Fulbright U.S. Student to the Philippines and a Posse Scholar, confronted the topic of homelessness in the Philippines through his Fulbright project, “On the Margins of Manila: A Study of Homelessness Reduction Programs.” In addition to his research, Letada co-founded eKindling, an education venture that brought digital learning via laptops to rural classrooms in the Philippines. After his Fulbright, Letada expanded his focus as CEO and Founder of NextDayBetter, a storytelling platform and agency to create “a more accepting world for immigrants everywhere.” For his ingenuity and “incredible leadership and success while giving back to the world,” Letada was the winner of The Posse Foundation’s 2014 Ainslie Alumni Achievement Award. According to Forbes, Letada combines “his non-profit and media experience to tell immigrant stories and provide technology-enabled pathways for collective action.”

Chiu-Li Wu (first row, center left), 2019 Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the University of Kentucky, introduces Chinese culture and calligraphy to Appalachian high school students as a Reach the World volunteer during International Education Week 2019.

Reach the World

Reach the World takes the energy of U.S. university student “Travelers” and transforms it into a learning resource for K-12 classrooms in the United States. Using the internet and video conferencing, Reach the World connects American youth with Travelers, including Fulbrighters, in one-on-one virtual exchanges to build a more “thoughtful and welcoming society.”

For over a decade, lessons with Fulbrighters from around the world have had a transformative effect on U.S. students: 93% of Reach the World middle school students express interest in attending college one day, 81% of Reach the World students express interest in studying or working abroad one day, and 75% of Reach the World elementary school students achieve statistically significant improvement in core geographic literacy.

Reach the World reflects on the impact that Fulbrighters have: “Fulbright Travelers model curiosity, global engagement, and empathy, inviting their eager student audiences to join them on a journey towards increased global competence and cultural understanding. The Fulbright spirit permeates geographically-isolated and underrepresented school communities, breaking down barriers to global engagement and inspiring the next generation of curious and compassionate global citizens in the United States.”

Madina Yunis Mahat, 2019 Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the University of Georgia, is an educator and humanitarian. As a Fulbrighter, she has created connections in and out of the classroom in the United States, Kenya, and around the world, introducing Kenyan culture to Americans in a Reach the World “Show and Tell” event. Mahat is internationally recognized as a Roll of Honour 2020 Recipient of The Diana Award for her “demonstrated…ability to inspire and mobilise new generations to serve their communities and create long-lasting change on a global scale.” She has overcome many obstacles, and works tirelessly as a teacher, volunteer, writer, and motivational speaker to inspire young girls.

 Prior to her Fulbright, Chayla Rowley worked for the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in the Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to conserve natural resources.

Chayla Rowley, 2019 Fulbright U.S. Student to Ireland, promotes the STEM fields to Indigenous communities. A citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Rowley engages young women in leadership and self-confidence-building activities, volunteers for immigrant and refugee organizations, and encourages participation in STEM fields. As a Reach the World Traveler, Rowley shared her Fulbright journey of completing a master’s degree in refugee integration from Dublin City University, where she researched the integration of refugee children via STEM-based activities. Through Fulbright, Rowley also strengthened a centuries-old bond between the Choctaw people and Ireland. In 1847, a group of Choctaw people met to raise money for the starving poor in Ireland during the potato famine. According to Rowley: “the Choctaw people recognized themselves in the Irish. They did not focus on the differences of distance, nationality, [or] skin color. They were moved by our shared humanity. What was given was not a ‘debt’ or ‘favor’ needing repayment. It was the mutual sharing of hope among kindred spirits. Since that time, the Choctaw and the Irish have continued their relationship.”

Amal Nanavati experiencing a cultural site in Kyoto, Japan.

Amal Nanavati, 2018 Fulbright U.S Student to Japan, conducts research to expand our understanding of human-robot interaction. During his Fulbright, under the supervision of Professor Takayuki Kanda at Kyoto University, Nanavati investigated how robots can learn to work and communicate with humans in smooth, natural ways by observing human-to-human interactions. As a Reach The World Traveler designated “Best Storyteller of Winter 2019,” he shared his travel experiences with elementary school students in Brooklyn, New York, helping to instill curiosity and a love for learning and science. His outreach to students through science isn’t new–as an undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University he co-founded Teknowledge, a computer programming educational outreach program for high school students in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Currently, Nanavati is a doctoral student at the University of Washington, where he continues his studies of human-robot interaction (HRI), and how technology can empower marginalized communities and challenge oppressive systems.

These outstanding alumni are among the thousands of Fulbrighters who have demonstrated how international educational and cultural exchange drive opportunity and promote achievement. Beyond their personal successes, these talented Fulbrighters have provided educational opportunities in their host communities, and after returning to their home communities, have given back through service and leadership. The Fulbright Program’s strategic partners, including The Posse Foundation and Reach the World, promote inclusive success, internationalize U.S. students and communities, and build long-term international connections.

“When we add the human perspective to the technical, we can create solutions that are better for people and better for the planet, because really, those are the same.”

Madison Wrobley, 2019 Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow to Nepal

Extreme weather, ecosystem disruption, food insecurity, pollution—around the world, communities face existential threats impacting every facet of life. Protecting the planet and mitigating these issues requires comprehensive, international solutions.

As cultural ambassadors and environmental stewards, Fulbrighters work to create a sustainable future through scientific research and communication, habitat and wildlife conservation, and innovative policy and technology for a sustainable future.

Communicating Science

Fulbrighters advance understanding of environmental issues through scientific research and communication. Dr. Gillian Bowser, 2014 Fulbright Specialist to Peru, is an ecology research scientist and faculty member in the Natural Resource Lab at Colorado State University, where she mentors students from underrepresented groups in science. During her Fulbright at National Agrarian University – La Molina, Dr. Bowser focused on communicating the impact of glacial retreat in Huascarán National Park’s mountain wetlands to faculty and students. At home, she has shared her knowledge as a wildlife biologist and ecologist with the general public for the U.S. National Park Service in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

Dr. Gillian Bowser
Colorado State University Natural Resource and Ecology Laboratory research scientist Gillian Bowser, right, leads students on a BioBlitz in Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico.

Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, 1996 Fulbright 50th Anniversary Distinguished Lecturer to Cyprus and Turkey, is a tropical and conservation biologist who communicates the impact of climate change to organizations and general audiences through media and education. Known as “the Godfather of Biodiversity” since introducing the term in 1980, Dr. Lovejoy leads the Amazon Biodiversity Center, which advances Amazon rainforest preservation and raises awareness of the human role in climate change. He also serves as a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation and is a professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Department at George Mason University. Dr. Lovejoy has worked within the World Wildlife Fund-U.S., World Bank, National Geographic Society, UNESCO, and the Smithsonian Institution, promoting conservation initiatives including “debt-for-nature” swaps, which exchange foreign debt for protection of biologically fragile areas. 

Dr. Lovejoy is a co-creator and former advisor of the successful PBS television series “Nature,” where his messages on conservation, realized through stunning wildlife photography, have reached millions of viewers. Over 38 seasons, “Nature” has received 700 honors from the television industry, including three George Foster Peabody Awards, and 22 Emmy Award nominations.

Dr. Brigitte Baptiste, 1992 Fulbright Foreign Student to the University of Florida, is a cultural landscape ecologist from Colombia. She is intent on advocating for her country’s environmental health through a “queer ecology” lens, which attempts to affirm the uncertainty of ecology and the natural world in mainstream science. A national columnist and public intellectual, Dr. Baptiste is Director of Universidad Ean, a member of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and a member of the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research. Through writing, research, public speaking, and teaching, Dr. Baptiste advocates for Colombia’s natural resources and vulnerable communities, specifically Indigenous and LGBTQ minorities, affected by environmental change.

Fulbrighters also share scientific ideas with new audiences through innovative forms of communication. Dr. Luis Graciano Velazquez, 2017 Fulbright Foreign Student to Michigan State University, completed a doctoral degree in Information and Media. Dr. Graciano works to educate and prepare underserved communities for natural disasters through the power of games and multimedia, including through a proposed board game, currently in development. Following his Fulbright, Dr. Graciano shares his knowledge of crisis communications and disaster preparedness througoutLatin America, strengthening communities and saving lives.

Elizabeth Kolbert, 1983 Fulbright U.S. Student to Germany, an American journalist and author, is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Her body of work, which focuses on humankind’s impact on the natural world, includes commentary for The New Yorker magazine, and long-form narratives including: “The Climate of Man,” “Field Notes from a Catastrophe,” and “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.” Combining cutting-edge science, first-hand observation, and reflection, Kolbert provides moving accounts of the natural disappearances occurring all around us in an effort to protect the planet.

Conservation

In the face of environmental change, Fulbrighters work with communities to conserve natural resources, promote biological diversity, and combat the effects of climate change. Madison Wrobley, 2019 Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow to Nepal and cultural anthropologist, combined hydrogeological data with interviews to better understand how land development affects water access and perpetuates social conflict. Using data to create programs with local partner organizations including The Small Earth Nepal, Wrobley believes that when “we add the human perspective to the technical, we can create solutions that are better for people and better for the planet, because really, those are the same.”

Madison Wrobley with office staff
Madison Wrobley (second from left) with office staff in Gongabu ward, Kathmandu, where she interviewed residents about the valley’s water resources.

Liz Schnackenberg, 2019 Fulbright Specialist to Portugal, uses her expertise to combat deforestation. A hydrologist and U.S. National Park Service employee in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, Liz trained natural resource and forestry professionals at Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas to develop strategies for post-fire response, including minimizing soil erosion and identifying areas at high-risk of flooding.

Liz Schnackenberg
Liz Schnackenberg assesses soil burn severity during a tour of the 2018 Lake Christine Fire burn area in Aspen, Colorado.

Fulbright scientists conserve wildlife ecosystems across the planet, making a difference in the lives of human and animal communities. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, including the Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship, enables young professionals to research, explore, and promote conservation through science, technology, and storytelling. Jill Tiefenthaler, CEO of National Geographic Society, reiterates the importance of this critical collaboration, stating, “The National Geographic Society is proud to have partnered with the U.S. Department of State to fund storytelling projects on globally relevant issues since 2013. We believe that storytelling has the power to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. The Fulbrighters selected for this program have undertaken in-depth explorations of our world’s many cultures, shared their observations with global audiences, and shown how truly interconnected we all are.”

Explore the critical steps U.S. Students and Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows are taking around the world to support wildlife:

Policy and Innovation for the Future

Through research and hands-on experience, Fulbrighters create innovative policy and technology for a sustainable future. Dr. Hai-Vu Phan, 2016 Fulbright Public Policy Fellow to Peru, conducted doctoral field research on renewable energy policies and worked as a technical assistant within Peru’s energy regulatory agency. Now a Government Relations Senior Specialist at Edison International, Dr. Phan challenges the Californian electric and transportation sectors to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Staying connected to her host community, she is “incredibly grateful for the genuine connections [she’s] made” through Fulbright.

Shalanda Baker, JD, 2016 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Mexico, creates and oversees inclusive energy policy as Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). She has spent over a decade conducting research on the equity of the global transition to cleaner energy resources, and is the author of more than a dozen articles, book chapters, and essays on renewable energy justice, policy, and renewable energy development. On her Fulbright in Oaxaca, Baker analyzed local wind energy projects, calling her Fulbright experience an “unprecedented opportunity to look at the impact…on Indigenous communities.” Baker will serve as a panelist on the Fulbright Impact in the Field: Climate Change and Environmental Justice on Friday, April 23rd, 2021 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time.

Shalanda Baker
Shalanda Baker, JD, leads energy policy as Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The Fulbright Arctic Initiative assembles a network of scholars, professionals, and applied researchers from the eight Arctic Council member countries to work towards creating a secure and sustainable Arctic. Working in tandem with peoples of the Arctic is critical to achieving the Initiative’s goals, and each cohort of scholars works to learn from and identify solutions with the very communities experiencing the real impacts of a changing Arctic. After collaborating with scientists, community leaders, public servants, and other key stakeholders, each cohort produces an action-based policy brief.

Dr. Maria Tysyachnyuk with dog
Dr. Maria Tysyachnyuk, Fulbright Arctic Initiative alumna from Russia, in Alaska. Her Fulbright led to a scientific paper analyzing benefit-sharing between oil companies, the North Slope Borough, and Indigenous peoples in Alaska.

Fulbrighters also create innovative technological solutions to global issues, sharing knowledge across communities. Benard Tabu, 2019 Fulbright Foreign Student to the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, supports renewable energy solutions across the African continent. A doctoral student in energy engineering and renewable energy, he is the co-founder of Sun Tel Holdings Limited, a company that provides solar installation, consulting, and maintenance of solar systems in his home country of Uganda.

Benard Tabu with Dr. Dassou Nagassou, 2013 Fulbright Foreign Student from Chad and current postdoctoral researcher
Benard Tabu (left), with Dr. Dassou Nagassou, 2013 Fulbright Foreign Student from Chad and current postdoctoral researcher, posing near a Microwave Plasma Reactor for the decomposition of carbon-dioxide into valuable products at University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Erika Boeing, 2014 Fulbright U.S. Student to the Netherlands, is the founder and CEO of Accelerate Wind, a company working to revolutionize rooftop wind energy and drastically lower the cost of small wind turbine technology. On her Fulbright, Boeing completed a master’s degree at Maastricht University, studying innovative energy technologies. Her work during her Fulbright, which had “immeasurable impact” on her professional and personal development, included research into the energy rebound effect and its impact on new energy efficiency technologies.

Hasan Anwer, 2012 Fulbright Foreign Student to Duke University, is an experienced carbon project development professional. As a Fulbrighter, Anwer completed a master’s degree in public policy analysis, climate change, and renewable energy from the Sanford School of Public Policy. His education supports his work as Program Director at Pakistan Environment Trust, a non-profit organization tackling Pakistan’s toughest environmental challenges. Anwer also founded EnMass Energy, a renewable energy startup that harnesses biomass from smallholder farmers to generate power and reduce emissions in Punjab; and 501Carbon, which provided grassroots energy solutions through carbon finance.

Hasan Anwer
Hasan Anwer is Program Director at Pakistan Environment Trust and is the founder of EnMass Energy, a renewable energy startup.

These have been a few examples of how Fulbrighters and the Fulbright Program are working toward protecting the planet – through communicating scientific research with the general public, bolstering conservation, and creating innovative policy and technology. By living and learning together, we can shape a more sustainable vision for our communities and our world.

Synonymous with international education, the Fulbright Program has provided students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds the opportunity to study, teach, exchange ideas, and find solutions to complex local and global challenges for 75 years.

Serving as leaders across the globe, Fulbrighters educate and internationalize their communities in the classroom and on college and university campuses, preparing students for the future.

Broadening Minds in the Classroom

Fulbrighters in the classroom improve educational outcomes and foster a lifelong love of learning. English Teaching Assistants (ETA) teach English abroad and Foreign Language Teaching Assistants (FLTA) introduce their native languages to U.S. classrooms. Dedicated teachers hone their craft through study and research on Fulbright Student and Scholar Program awards, and return home with cutting-edge pedagogical ideas to improve education in the classroom.

Kimberly Muth
Kimberly Muth, a 2018 Fulbright U.S. Student ETA to Czech Republic, interacts with her students.

Fulbrighters in the classroom improve educational outcomes and foster a lifelong love of learning. English Teaching Assistants (ETA) teach English abroad and Foreign Language Teaching Assistants (FLTA) introduce their native languages to U.S. classrooms. Dedicated teachers hone their craft through study and research on Fulbright Student and Scholar Program awards, and return home with cutting-edge pedagogical ideas to improve education in the classroom.

According to a survey of Fulbright U.S. Scholars from 2005-2015, 62% adapted more inclusive teaching practices in their work, and 13% had new teaching methodologies implemented across their home institution after their Fulbright experience. Samuel Isaiah, a 2019 Fulbright Foreign Student to SUNY Albany, is a primary school teacher of underserved Orang Asli (Indigenous) students in Pahang, Malaysia. Due to his efforts, his students’ test scores have drastically improved from a pass rate of 30% (2008-2012) to an average of 80% (2013-2017) on national English standardized examinations. He has been recognized with the 2018 “Best Innovative Teacher” award by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the 2019 “National Hero Teacher” award, and is a Top 10 Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize. Isaiah will continue to inspire and nurture Malaysian students with the knowledge gained from his Fulbright experience earning a Master’s degree from SUNY Albany in Educational Policy and Leadership.

Samuel Isaiah
Isaiah (center) with his students in Pahang, Malaysia.

Fulbright educators also infuse real-world issues into curricula to uniquely inform and inspire students. Jennifer Chavez-Miller, a 2014 Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching educator to Finland, studied Finland’s focus on equality and uniformity in primary school education, connecting with local teachers, students, and education leaders. An eighth-grade teacher in New Mexico who prioritizes building knowledge through relevant and exciting projects, Chavez-Miller took her students on hiking, camping, and backpacking expeditions in New Mexico to inspire stewardship of the planet through a National Geographic Society-funded project: Vamos Explorar: Conserving and Protecting New Mexico’s Wild Places. She received the National Geographic Gilbert M. Grosvenor Educator of the Year award for exceptional achievement in igniting curiosity and cultural understanding in students through exploration, science, and conservation, and is a member of the National Geographic Teacher Advisory Council.

Internationalizing Higher Education

The Fulbright Program and its alumni bolster higher education internationalization initiatives and improve access and equity in education. By sending U.S. faculty and students abroad to uncover new perspectives, and internationalizing U.S. campuses by hosting visiting students and scholars, the Fulbright Program expands institutional global reach.

These opportunities in turn build support for, and access to, international education. Indeed, transformed by their experience, 85% of Fulbright scholars encouraged their students to study abroad, and 51% of scholars advocated for hosting scholars at their home institution, resulting in more than 4,800 visiting scholars over 10 years. Theon Gruber Ford, a 2019 Fulbright U.S. International Education Administrator (IEA) awardee to Germany, learned about Germany’s education system and established networks of U.S. and international colleagues. Now, as the Program Manager for Honors and Scholar Development at Howard University, she encourages students to study abroad and engage with Fulbright.

Fulbrighters who study, teach, or conduct research overseas through the Fulbright Program enrich their education and, upon their return, introduce new ideas in their home country. Nermin Abadan-Unat, a 1952 Fulbright Foreign Student at the University of Minnesota, is a renowned Turkish professor, lawyer, and former senator studying immigration, women’s rights, and mass communications. Widely credited with introducing Turkey to the concept of “public opinion,” she received the 2012 Vehbi Koç Award for her contributions to education. She represented Turkey on the Committee of Equality of Women and Men at the Council of Europe, and has worked internationally as a guest professor at the University of Munich, the City University of New York, the University of Denver, and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Fulbrighters use the training and knowledge they have gained to advocate for educational equity and access for all communities. As the first woman to serve as President of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and a 2016 TIME 100 honoree, Dr. Diana Natalicio, a 1961 Fulbright U.S. Student to Brazil, prioritized creating a student population that reflected the diversity of El Paso’s community. From 1988 to 1998, she helped to increase the Hispanic student population from 50% to 66%. During Dr. Natalicio’s 31-year tenure as president, UTEP’s enrollment has grown from 15,000 to nearly 24,000 students who reflect the demographics of the surrounding Paso del Norte region.

Diana Natalicio
Dr. Diana Natalicio stands on the seal of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), the institution she has led for over 30 years.

Dr. Walter Massey, a 1996 Fulbright 50th Anniversary Distinguished Lecturer to South Africa, has been committed to racial and social equity and access in science and technology education. As a professor at Brown University, he developed and directed the Inner-City Teachers of Science (INCTOS) program, which paired undergraduate students in science education with urban high school science classes. As director of the National Science Foundation, he focused on research infrastructure and enhancing pre-college science education, emphasizing the necessity of women and minority groups in the field. Dr. Massey has also served as president and chancellor of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since 2010, the president of Morehouse College, the senior vice-president and provost of the University of California System, and as a physicist and chairman of the board overseeing the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope.

Walter Massey
Dr. Walter Massey has championed inclusion in STEM fields during his distinguished and varied career.

Dr. Sandye Jean McIntyre II, a 1951 Fulbright U.S. Student to France and professor of French at Morgan State University, served as a Fulbright Program Adviser (FPA) for 55 years. An inspirational teacher who loved talking about his Fulbright experiences and their lifelong benefits, he helped Morgan State become a Fulbright Top Producing Institution and HBCU Institutional Leader. As an international educator, Dr. McIntyre also received Fulbright U.S. Scholar awards to Israel, Senegal, Mali, the Gambia, and Liberia. For his distinguished service to universities and education, he was named a Knight and Officer of the Ordre des Palmes académiques of the French Republic.

Carleen Leggett and Christian Kameni
Dr. Carleen Leggett (left), Morgan State University’s current Fulbright Program Director, and Christian Kameni (right), a 2013 Fulbright U.S. Student ETA to France, with a portrait of Dr. Sandye McIntyre II on campus.

These inspiring Fulbrighters are just a few of the many dynamic and creative alumni who have drawn from the knowledge and experiences they gained while living and working among their Fulbright host communities to broaden their teaching methods, internationalize their institutions, expand equity and inclusion in education, and prepare their students and institutions for a more interconnected world.