Six Katies named Fulbright 2020 semi-finalists

Compilation image of the six Fulbright semi-finalists.

The six Fulbright semi-finalists. Upper row (left to right): Olivia Dunn ’20, Alexia Martin ’19, Erin Nelsen ’20.  Lower row (left to right): Addison Cross ’20, Becca Gibson ’19, and Eva Shellbarger ’19.

Six Katies named Fulbright 2020 semi-finalists

A combined six St. Catherine University students and alumni have reached the semi-finalist stage of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. These six applicants, who plan to either conduct research projects or teach English across a half-dozen countries, are now beginning their country commission interviews. They will learn in the spring if they will receive the prestigious 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. 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 eight St. Catherine University students and alumni applied for the Fulbright program. Of those, the following six have been named semi-finalists:

  1. Addison Cross ’20 is a Research Award semi-finalist. If chosen, she plans to travel to El Salvador where she will study the community-level relationship between aid and migration.
  2. Olivia Dunn ’20 is an English Teaching Assistant semi-finalist. She hopes to teach students in Cote d’Ivoire, and would open a language club to promote cultural exchange.
  3. Becca Gibson ’19 is a Research Award semi-finalist. If chosen, she would study ways to enhance educational intervention for deaf/deafblind children and their families in Italy.
  4. Alexia Martin ’19 is an English Teaching Assistant semi-finalist. If chosen, she would travel to Colombia to teach students and explore the commonalities and differences African-Americans and Afro-Latinx people may share with respect to ancestry and history.
  5. Erin Nelsen ’20 is a Research Award semi-finalist in the Fulbright Aberystwyth University program. This award offers a one-year Master’s degree within the International Politics Department. Nelsen intends to analyze the impact of Brexit on women's political and financial security in Wales.
  6. Eva Shellbarger ’19 is an English Teaching Assistant semi-finalist. If chosen, she will travel to Brazil to not only teach but also to learn from other students who are going into language teaching. The experience is one she feels will further her goal to become a professional interpreter.

St. Kate’s history in the Fulbright program can be traced back to the 1950s, when Sr. Marie Philip Haley CSJ actively recruited students and recent graduates to apply. Over the years, faculty mentors have developed a support structure that includes the applicants themselves, who encourage each other throughout the application and interview process.

“It becomes a cohort across the programs, and is something really special,” explained Allison Adrian, PhD, director of competitive fellowships and one of two St. Kate’s Fulbright advisors. “It’s been a journey they’ve shared since last Spring, and each applicant has made the most of it. They’ve used the Fulbright Program opportunity as affirmation of their career aspirations, and are building their own paths forward. We could not be more proud of them.” 

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.