Four Katies named Fulbright 2021 semi-finalists

International flags symbolizing connections to international communities

A combined four St. Catherine University students and alumni have reached the semi-finalist stage of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. These four applicants, who plan to either conduct research projects or teach English across four countries, are now beginning their country commission interviews. They will learn in the spring if they will receive the award.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Fulbright is among the most prestigious and widely recognizable fellowships in the world. There are two categories of awards offered:  

  • The Fulbright Study/Research Award is an opportunity to pursue independent research or graduate study internationally.
  • The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant programs place grantees in schools overseas to supplement local English language instruction and to provide a native speaker presence in the classrooms.

A total of seven St. Kate’s students and alum applied this past year, making the semi-finalist designation notable in a program with increasingly competitive cycles like the Fulbright. This year was the most competitive round in the program’s 75-year history.

“Given the stress of the pandemic, I find it astounding that our students completed these intense application processes so successfully,” said Allison Adrian, PhD, director of competitive fellowships and one of two St. Kate’s Fulbright advisors. 

The impact of the pandemic was felt in the 2020 program, changing or even upending plans students had made. Many Fulbright grantees from the last cycle of awards have still not been placed in their countries. 

“There is so much planning and work that goes into the Fulbright program in the months leading up to the application,” explained Adrian, “given that many Fulbright Finalists have still not been placed this year, it is wonderful that our two recipients, Addy and Erin, are currently in-country and actively pursuing their Fulbright research or graduate program.” 

St. Kate’s 2020 Fulbright Finalist Erin Nelsen ’20 started her master’s program in International Politics in the United Kingdom in the fall as planned. Addison Cross ’20 had to delay the start of her research program in El Salvador from August to the end of December; her application to extend her grant given the delayed start makes her one of St. Kate’s semi-finalists this year. 

For the 2021 cycle, Addison is joined by Alexia Martin ’19, an alternate for the English Teaching Award (ETA) in Colombia who was not placed in 2020 due to the host country downsizing their ETA cohort because of the pandemic. New to the semi-finalists this year are Erin Tebben ’21, who hopes to receive an ETA to Laos and Meghan Peterson, a graduate student who applied for an ETA in Greece.

Final award selection will be made by the supervising agency in the host country and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Students are typically notified by the end of April.

About the Fulbright Program

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. 

Fulbrighters address critical global challenges in all disciplines, while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 84 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.