Two University of North Georgia (UNG) students, Jacob Dietrich and Erika Evans, have been selected for the prestigious Fulbright program, for which recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
"Having one Fulbright winner is exceptional, and having a second is phenomenal," said UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs. "Jacob and Erika will join a very select group representing the United States abroad during 2015-2016, and they will represent us very well."
The Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The program operates in more than 160 countries, and Dietrich and Evans are two of only 1,900 people in the nation who will travel abroad for 10 months of the 2015-16 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The Fulbright award includes support for round-trip transportation to the host country and funding to cover room, board and incidental costs.
In fall 2013, Jacobs announced an initiative to prepare UNG students for nationally-competitive scholarships, such as the Fulbright. Since then, UNG students across the university have earned scholarships valued at approximately $285,000 and opportunities to study abroad or participate in exclusive internships, such as at the National Institutes of Health. Dietrich, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Arts in modern language with a concentration in Arabic, will travel to Oman in early 2016, where he will study the impact of tourism on the Omani culture; he previously spent a semester in Oman studying tourism's impact on the Omani economy.
"The Fulbright program encourages research topics that are of interest to the U.S. as well as the host country," Dietrich said. "Oman is currently trying to reduce their economy's dependence on oil production, and part of the solution could be to increase tourism. I hope to showcase the effectiveness of their efforts through my research."
Dietrich said he has long been fascinated by Arab culture. While at UNG, he has traveled twice to Morocco and took his first trip to Oman in fall 2013 on a Project Global Officer award, which funds scholarships for future military officers to study strategic language and culture at home and abroad. Dietrich has also received a Boren scholarship, which will support him in a semester-long study abroad opportunity in Oman. He plans to later enroll in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University to pursue a master's degree in security studies, enabling him to work with the Department of State or in the intelligence community.
Evans will participate in the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program in Russia, where she will teach at Kaliningrad State Technical University while volunteering at nearby orphanages. Currently serving as UNG's first intern at U.S. European Command in Germany, Evans will graduate in August.
While at UNG, Evans has studied abroad in Estonia for four months at the University of Tartu, and has worked as a Russian tutor at UNG's Foreign Service Language Academy, a summer program for high school students. She plans to pursue a master's degree in Russian before working for the Department of State as a foreign service officer or with a non-governmental organization as an interpreter.
Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 360,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in government, science, the arts, business, philanthropy, education, and many other fields. Fifty-three Fulbright alumni from 12 countries have been awarded the Nobel Prize, and 82 alumni have received Pulitzer Prizes.
"Mr. Dietrich and Ms. Evans represent the best the United States has to offer as scholarly ambassadors to the world at large," said Dr. Andy Novobilski, UNG's associate provost for research and engagement and chief research officer. "UNG is honored to have had the opportunity to participate in their formation through formal classroom learning and ongoing research activities in which they were able to engage with faculty on questions of importance. They have a bright future in front of them and we're pleased they are able to take part in the prestigious Fulbright program."