Eight University of Georgia students were awarded grants from the Fulbright U.S. Student program for this academic year, as decided through the U.S. State Department Institute of International Education.

Seven of the winners accepted their awards.

In the past four years, UGA has produced more than 10 Fulbright winners per year, with a record-breaking 17 grant recipients in the 2012 to 2013 school year, according to Maria de Rocher, the UGA campus Fulbright Program adviser. De Rocher said the amount of money given to each grant recipient varies depending on where they are going and what they are doing, but that each grant is meant to cover all expenses.

To be eligible for any type of Fulbright grant, applicants must be U.S. citizens. They must have at least completed a bachelor’s degree before the start of their grants and must be sufficiently fluent in the written and language of the host country. The selection of winners is based on quality and feasibility of their proposal, academic and professional record, personal qualifications, and language preparation. The application and selection process takes about a year.

UGA grant winners, Katherine Lacksen, Tierney O’Sullivan, Derek Bentley and Gregory Moss, received Study/Research grants. Study/Research grant applicants must design their own projects and typically work with advisers at a foreign university.

Melissa Siegel, Geoffrey Nolan, and Alyson Pittman received English Teaching Assistantships. ETAs put Fulbright winners in a classroom abroad to help teach English to non-native speakers ranging from kindergarten to university level; they also serve as cultural ambassadors for U.S. culture.

Siegel graduated in Spring 2013. She’s from Atlanta and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology with a minor in French. She will be traveling to Malaysia to teach English.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to know my fellow ETAs and my community and my students, just really settling into the community,” Siegel said.

After teaching for a year, Siegel plans to travel along Southeast Asia. She then wants to come back to the U.S. and earn her graduate degree in international relations.

Lacksen also graduated in Spring 2013. She’s from Sparta and earned her bachelor’s degree in ecology. She is in Darwin, Australia studying a species of fish in the Daly River, hoping to understand more about the future effects of development on the species and the implications on the people who use that fish.

“[I’m looking forward to] being somewhere new and being in a different part of the world and getting to meet people and be exposed to new environments,” Lacksen said.

She said she would like to travel around Australia after her research is over and later come back to the U.S. to get her graduate degree or PhD.

Pittman graduated a year earlier than Siegel and Lacksen — in spring 2012. She’s from Bainbridge and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in English. She will be traveling to Gisenyi, Rwanda and teaching English at Rwanda Tourism University College. In addition to teaching, Pittman said she wants to work with a local non-governmental organization focusing on women’s empowerment and economic development.

“I’ve traveled to East Africa twice before . . . so really I’m just excited to be back in that part of the world,” Pittman said. “It’s absolutely beautiful . . . Gisenyi is famous for its mountain gorillas, and I’m really looking forward to going gorilla trekking in the mountains.”

Pittman said she would love to pursue a career with the State Department or stay in Rwanda working for an NGO.

Nolan graduated in Spring 2013. He’s from Covington and earned a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and Spanish. Nolan traveled to Barranquilla, Colombia to teach English at la Universidad del Norte. He’s also working at an NGO to help impoverished children focusing on education.

“I’m most looking forward to just all the small things that I’m going to be learning while [being immersed] in another culture . . . just learning something as basic as the proper etiquette for interacting with someone who’s older than you,” Nolan said. “Just all of those cool little lessons that you learn that you can’t really even put into words . . . that’s what I’ve been really excited about learning.”

Nolan said he is hoping to find a teaching job somewhere in Colombia after he’s done in Barranquilla and hopes to stay there for a few years.

O’Sullivan graduated in Fall 2012. She’s from Roswell and earned a bachelor’s degree in ecology. She’s at the University of Tasmania doing research on behavioral ecology of the Tasmanian wedge tailed eagle.

“I’m excited to start going to [my field work sites] and collecting data and watching the eagles, just doing a lot of hand-on stuff on the field,” O’Sullivan said.

She said she thinks she’s going to travel for a month or so after her research is done and then come back to the U.S.

Moss is pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy, particularly German idealism. He’s from Lawrenceville and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy and German at UGA. Moss had applied for a Fulbright grant before and had not gotten it. He is in Bonn, Germany studying the links between Hegel and Schelling, two German philosophers.

“I’m looking forward to having the year to study and do research,” Moss said. “Also, I’m just looking forward to vastly improving my German, and also my family coming with me. It’ll be interesting to watch my wife and see how she handles things.”

Bentley is pursuing a Ph.D. in modern history. He’s in Mexico City doing research. The Red & Black was unable to reach Bentley for comment.

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