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Three UNG graduates named Fulbright finalists

Katie Smith, a senior majoring in history from Adairsville, Georgia, was named a Fulbright finalist. The 21-year-old will spend one year in South Korea teaching English.

More than a year ago, University of North Georgia (UNG) graduate Katie Smith was invited to a meeting about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

The Fulbright program supports students who have at least a bachelor's degree to teach English or conduct research in one of 140-plus countries for one year. Students often apply for the prestigious program as seniors to participate the year after graduation.

The information was music to Smith's ears.

"It sounded great," she said. "And the worst thing that could happen is getting rejected."

Smith, who earned a degree in history in May 2018, was not rejected. The 21-year-old from Adairsville, Georgia, was named a Fulbright finalist in late March, and will spend one year in South Korea teaching English.

"I'm a little nervous but excited too," Smith said. "I hope to improve my Korean while I'm there and be more confident."

2018-05-16-Amanda Hamilton

University of North Georgia graduate Amanda Hamilton from Acworth, Georgia, was named a Fulbright finalist this year. She will spend a year in South Korea as an English Teaching Assistant.

Smith will not be the only UNG graduate in South Korea. Amanda Hamilton, a December 2017 graduate from Acworth, Georgia, with a degree in psychology, was accepted into the program, too. Both women will be English Teaching Assistants.

Originally selected as a Fulbright alternate, Lily O’Clery became a finalist in mid-May. The May 2018 graduate from Gainesville, Georgia, with a degree in Chinese will teach in Taiwan. She was also a Critical Language Scholarship semifinalist.

O'Clery, Smith and Hamilton were UNG's three Fulbright finalists for 2018.

Grayson Ruhl, a December graduate from Milwaukee, was also selected as a Fulbright alternate. He is a former cadet with a bachelor's degree in international affairs and a bachelor's degree in Chinese language and culture. He hopes plans to teach in Poland.

If a finalist declines the Fulbright award, an alternate may accept.


Lily O'Clery was originally a Fulbright alternate in April 2018. One month later after graduating with a degree in Chinese, she learned she became a Fulbright finalist. The Gainesville, Georgia, native will spend one year in Taiwan teaching English.

Other UNG students who were selected as semifinalists included:

  • Sarah Hosey, a December graduate from Cumming, Georgia, with a bachelor's degree in international affairs; she plans to teach in Mexico.
  • Lyric Jones, a senior from Augusta, Georgia, majoring in Chinese who won the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship in fall 2017 and the Critical Language Scholarship in 2016; she plans to teach in Taiwan
  • Theresa Kim, a December graduate from Buford, Georgia, with a bachelor's degree in art who won a Gilman and Freeman Asia scholarship last summer; she plans to teach in Taiwan
  • Courtney Graff, a December graduate from Dahlonega, Georgia, with a bachelor's degree in international affairs; she plans to conduct research for the United Kingdom partnership award

Following last year's semifinalist round, eight UNG students became Fulbrights, marking a record for the university. Because of this, UNG was named a top-producing school by Fulbright.

To date, more than 80 UNG students have received nationally competitive scholarships.

“Our applicants are well-positioned for the Fulbright due to UNG’s focus on preparing globally-minded students adept at leadership, critical thinking, and diplomacy," said Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant vice president for research and engagement at UNG. "Each of our applicants put tremendous effort into crafting strong essays that reflect their own individual talents, motivations, and qualifications. We are thrilled to continue working with such remarkable students.”

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program designed to increase mutual understanding between United States citizens and residents of more than 160 foreign countries, according to the Fulbright website.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, personal qualifications and demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. A U.S.-based committee selects the semifinalists while the foreign host country selects the finalists between mid-March and May, Lin said.

Students interested in learning more information should contact Dr. Anastasia Lin with the Nationally Competitive Scholarships office at

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