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Fulbright selects 18 semifinalists from UNG

February 15, 2021

Record-setting is one word to describe the University of North Georgia's (UNG) efforts to secure students and alumni placement in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

This spring, UNG has 18 semifinalists for the prestigious, highly competitive fellowship program. It bests the previous high mark of 13 semifinalists from 2019. Last year, only 16 from UNG applied for the Fulbright.

Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant vice president of research and engagement and head of UNG's Nationally Competitive Scholarships office, credited the achievement to the record 27 Fulbright applicants and their exceptional academic and co-curricular preparation for a national award.

"UNG prepares students to be adaptable leaders for a diverse global society, which dovetails with the aims of the Fulbright to produce mutual understanding between nations," Lin said. "Our success with Fulbright reflects our students' deep engagement with internationalization, academic success and leadership."

The Fulbright program enables graduates to pursue research activities, become English Teaching Assistants, or enroll in graduate school in other countries. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between U.S. citizens and residents of more than 160 foreign countries, according to the Fulbright website.

UNG's 2021 semifinalists are Noah Bryant, Ashley Fish, Jonathan Gilleland, Michael-Gabriel Holder, Karley Mathews, Ximena Luna, Abigail Meyers, Ashlynn Nash, Lydia Pelletier, Emile Phommavongsy, Monica Pizano, Aquila Murrey Reyes, Kelly Reid, Roderick Selman, Josh Shepherd, Jacey Sherman, Katherine Torres, and Colin Tredway. More details are available in a full listing.

Among the 18 semifinalists, four applied to earn advanced degrees. Bryant, Luna and Shepherd plan to pursue master's programs.

"If I become a finalist, Fulbright would pay for my tuition," said Bryant, a senior pursuing a degree in history. "And it's a one-year program versus two years like in the United States. So the cost is about the same if not less."

Gilleland, a 2020 graduate with a master's degree in international affairs, is the first from UNG to apply for a doctoral program through Fulbright. He applied for a research-based master's program twice, but was not selected as a semifinalist.

"This time I applied a little differently and went for a Ph.D. program," he said. "I hope the third time is the charm."

Gilleland is one of six repeat applicants in the group of semifinalists, including Reid, a 2019 graduate with a bachelor's degree in athletic training. She was happy to be a semifinalist again and awaits the South Korean committee's evaluation on her application.

"If I were to become a finalist, I look forward to possibly living in a home stay, being immersed in the Korean language and culture, meeting some of my Korean friends' families, and getting to teach and interact with South Korean high school students," she said.

Selman, a senior cadet pursuing a degree in modern languages with a concentration in Arabic language and literature, was thrilled to be a semifinalist for the first time.

"I hope younger cadets will see that I have achieved this and hopefully it will inspire them to apply," said Selman, who is thinking about teaching English to high school students in Indonesia for a year. "I daydream of going, but try not to get hopes up."

Students interested in learning more about nationally competitive scholarships should contact ncs@ung.edu for more information.

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