Fulbright semi-finalists prepare for future endeavors

The University of North Alabama had nine of 14 applicants make it through the National Screening Committee and become U.S. Student Fulbright semi-finalists Jan. 27.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study and research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs, according to us.fulbrightonline.org.

In receiving a grant, semi-finalist have the opportunity to share daily experiences with people of the host country, according to us.fulbrightonline.org.

“It is such an honor to make it to semi-finals, and it makes me incredibly thankful for the many people who helped me during this process, such as Dr. Price and The Departments of Foreign Languages and Communications,” said senior and Fulbright semi-finalist Emily Faris. “Without their support, I never would have applied, and I’m just really thankful for the impact they have had on my education overall.”

Faris said although she is a double major in Spanish and Communications, she minored in applied linguistics with the purpose of one day being able to teach English abroad.

“Being an ETA with Fulbright would be an opportunity to make that a reality while also allowing me to further practice my Spanish language skills,” Faris said. “Even the process of applying has been such an eye-opening experience that has built confidence and taught me valuable skills which will further prepare me for future endeavors. The awards are highly competitive for a reason though, as it is an experience that is sure to push you personally and open doors professionally.”

Faris said this would mean being able to improve her Spanish language skills while gaining teaching experience– both of which would be extremely beneficial to her future.

Since UNA’s Campus Review Committee began working on this initiative, 48 percent of all UNA applicants advanced to the final stage of the selection process, according to an email by Director of Premier National and International Awards Matthew Price. This year marks the largest Fulbright semi-finalist group in UNA’s history with 64 percent of the applicants progressing.

“I’m so proud of everyone and for Mr. Price investing in us along the way,” said senior and semi-finalist Alexandria Buttgereit. “I’m a bit mixed in emotions because I got this far last year as well and didn’t make it further so I’m just trying to stay cool this time, but I feel honored to have gotten this far again.”

Buttgereit said Fulbright is important to her because it is her second year as a candidate, but also because it is a “new ball game.”

“It requires knowing Spanish in order to operate in a Portuguese spoken culture,” Buttgereit said. “The opportunity to operate in another language and also teach would allow for growing in potential career paths and an additional language. It means I get to help people which is my passion and all the while having the government fund and support us in this awesome venture.”

Buttgereit said adapting to other cultures, having experience in teaching and putting on programs would help in experience area of jobs and show those hiring student’s capabilities.

“Since doing international careers interests me, it would help a ton in giving me experience in various settings,” Buttgereit said. “It would be a privilege to be able to do this.”

The awardees will be notified in March or April.

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