The University of Florida is pleased to announce nine Fulbright Finalists and four Alternates for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Top (l-r) Ikrom Alajoulin, Camille Armada, Kacey Aukema, Zariah Brown, Rosana Gutierrez, Kaitlyn Salyer; Bottom (l-r): Alexandra St Tellien, Kasia Wiech, Priya Amilineni, Catherine Bush, Karen Coker, Julia Paoli.
These 13 Gators were selected from a pool of 11,728 applicants—a record high for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and an 11.9% increase over the previous Fulbright application cycle.
Fulbright finalists study, conduct research and teach abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Selected in an open, merit-based competition, these scholars work in service of Fulbright’s mission to build mutual understanding between the United States and partner nations, share knowledge across communities, and improve lives around the world. Their careers are also enriched as Fulbright alumni by joining a network of esteemed recipients, many of whom are leaders in their fields.
“The achievements of these 13 students are a testament to the intellectual daring and interdisciplinary depth of UF students,” says Honors Program Director Dr. Mark Law. “Their commitment to making global contributions to research, teaching and service is indicative of the caliber of our scholars and their impact as future leaders.”
UF’s selected students are:
- Ikrom Alajoulin ’21, BA in criminology, BA in sociology, granted an English Teaching Assistant award in Brazil
- Camille Armada, MEd ’20, BS communication sciences and disorders ’19, granted an English Teaching Assistant award in Colombia
- Kacey Aukema ’21, master of agronomy, awarded a research grant in Brazil
- Zariah Brown, Honors grad and BA political science, BA sociology ’21 granted an English Teaching Assistant award in Brazil
- Rosana Gutierrez ‘19, a linguistics and political science major granted an English Teaching Assistant award in Argentina
- Kaitlyn Salyer ‘21, Honors grad and international studies/philosophy double major granted an English Teaching Assistant award in Tajikistan
- Alexandra St Tellien ‘20, psychology/linguistics double major granted an English Teaching Assistant award in Côte d’Ivoire
- Kasia Wiech ‘20, physics major awarded a research grant at the University of Warsaw in Poland
- UF alum, granted an English Teaching Assistant award in Taiwan
- Priya Amilineni ’19, political science major, alternate for graduate study in the UK
- Catherine Bush ’20, music education major, alternate English Teaching Assistant in Germany
- Karen Coker, PhD candidate in Public Health, alternate for research in Senegal
- Julia Paoli ’21, Honors student, microbiology and cell sciences major, alternate for graduate study in the UK
For Finalist Kasia Wiech, this win comes with great personal significance. Researching at the University of Warsaw in Poland on the Fulbright grant will serve as on opportunity to become closer to her own culture (Wiech is the daughter of two Polish immigrants) while preparing for a future as a researcher and educator. “After I return to the US, I will begin my Ph.D. in Physics at Syracuse University, and I am confident my time in Poland will prepare me for graduate-level research,” says Wiech. “In the future, I plan to become a professor, work on international collaborations and help other students gain international research experience.”
Finalist Alexandra St Tellien is headed to Côte d’Ivoire to teach English. An immigrant from Haiti, St Tellien remembers always feeling a strong connection to the African diaspora, her first motivation for service to the continent. Additional inspirations were born from St Tellien’s involvement in UF’s English Language Institute (ELI), along with a class called “The Languages of Africa” and support for Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts to educate girls and women. She notes that the country’s push to include gender-sensitive education and provide equitable access to education to those of marginalized identities strongly appealed to her as a feminist. “Because I am in favor of these policies, I want to contribute what I have learned to help build bridges,” says St Tellien. “I know that I will gain more cultural awareness and understanding, and as an aspiring educator, cultural competence is key.”
Fulbright Alternate Julia Paoli has thought deeply about her career plans. “My dream job is to be a virologist working on pandemic preparedness and response for the US State Department, CDC, or the World Health Organization,” says Paoli, who recently completed an internship with the US Department of State’s Office of International Health and Biodefense. “Effective pandemic preparedness and response rely on strong international cooperation between governments, scientists, and health organizations, so it will be advantageous to my future success as a public health leader to form global connections early.”
Paoli’s vision is an excellent example of projects that align with Fulbright’s mission. Sponsored by the U.S. government, Fulbright is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, counter misunderstandings, and help people and nations work together toward common goals. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.
Application to the Fulbright Program is open to all UF students and alumni. The campus deadline for the 2021-2022 application cycle is 5 pm on August 27, 2021. For more information about applying to Fulbright, contact UF’s External Scholarship & Fellowship Coordinator Kelly J. Medley at firstname.lastname@example.org.