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Eight UNG graduates and current students named Fulbright semifinalists

January 31, 2018

As a child, University of North Georgia (UNG) graduate Courtney Graff always knew a bachelor's degree would not satisfy her. She wanted a master's degree but only if she could afford it.

Now, Graff may receive some help to achieve her goal. The December 2017 graduate, who majored in international affairs, and seven other UNG students have been selected as semifinalists for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. After the semifinalist round last year, eight UNG students became Fulbrights, marking a new record for the university.

The highly competitive fellowship enables graduate students to pursue academic endeavors overseas.

"Having eight semifinalists demonstrates UNG's exceptional international curriculum and the preparation our students receive to be leaders in the community and abroad," said Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant vice president of research and engagement at UNG.

Graff is the only UNG semifinalist who is applying as a researcher for the United Kingdom partnership award.

The other seven semifinalists from UNG are vying for the English Teaching Assistant positions. They are:

  • Amanda Hamilton, a December graduate with a bachelor's degree in psychology; she plans to teach in South Korea
  • Sarah Hosey, a December graduate with a bachelor's degree in international affairs; she plans to teach in Mexico
  • Lyric Jones, a senior 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 with a bachelor's degree in art who won a Gilman and Freeman Asia scholarship last summer; she plans to teach in Taiwan
  • Lily O’Clery, a senior majoring in Chinese who is a Critical Language Scholarship semifinalist; she plans to teach in Taiwan
  • Grayson Ruhl, a December graduate and cadet with a bachelor's degree in international affairs and a bachelor's degree in Chinese language and culture; he plans to teach in Poland
  • Katie Smith, a senior majoring in history; she plans to teach in South Korea

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.

Some countries interview the semifinalists, which is the case for Hosey, whose interview with Mexican officials is scheduled for Feb. 7.

"I was full of excitement," Hosey said. "This is something that I really want and feel is an honor to receive."

The 20-year-old Cumming, Georgia, woman hopes she will be a finalist in order to continue her education and research into a master's degree. Her ultimate goal is the work for the United Nations or the State Department.

Hosey is not the only Fulbright semifinalist aspiring for a post-graduate degree and possible career at the State Department or overseas. Ruhl, a 23-year-old Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native, is applying to graduate schools in China, Europe and the United States while he awaits word on the Fulbright program.

If selected as a finalist, he would like to create connections between Poland and the U.S.

"And I would like to complete a few research projects that I am interested in with post-Communist development in Poland," he said.

The eight semifinalists must wait for the foreign countries to make their decisions. Lin is hopeful UNG’s eight semifinalists will do well in the in-country process.

I think we have really strong chances with students because of their preparation and dedication," Lin said. "Last year, we had 10 semifinalists and nine finalists."

The eight Fulbright semifinalists are among more than 75 UNG students who have received a nationally competitive scholarships.

Students interested in learning more about nationally competitive scholarships should contact ncs@ung.edu for more information. Students interested in learning about funding and programs to study abroad in a variety of projects may visit UNG’s Center for Global Engagement online.

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