With Record Number of Fulbright Grants Awarded, Davidson Places Among Top in Nation

Updated July 5

This year's record-setting crop of 15 Fulbright U.S. Student Scholars places Davidson College among the top producers of Fulbrights nationally. Seniors and young alumni received awards for research, study and teaching abroad.

Fulbright national totals are not yet available, but a comparison of the past five year’s numbers places Davidson’s current status in top-five territory for bachelor’s granting institutions. That’s true for the absolute number of scholarships as well as for Davidson’s percentage of applications funded. Davidson also lands squarely in the upper ranks when compared across all types of colleges and universities.

The college’s big jump from a total of eight Fulbrights in each of several recent years marks a record high at Davidson. It continues a strong trend of recognition by the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program of the United States Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The U.S. award program was developed in 1946 by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, who called for the use of surplus World War II property to fund the "promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science." It is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, and university presidents, as well as leading journalists, artists, scientists and teachers. They include 59 Nobel Laureates, 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, 71 MacArthur Fellows, 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, and thousands of leaders across the private, public and non-profit sectors.

Davidson has had at least one Fulbright in all but a very few years since the program's inception. This year, Fulbright scholars will travel to Botswana, Colombia, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico and Spain. Two more young alumni will travel to Austria on related Fulbright Austria and Fulbright Canada awards administered in those countries.

This year's Davidson Fulbright scholars will:

  • Conduct pediatric oncology research at the Necker Children's Hospital in Paris, France
  • Teach English in Germany, with a focus on the history and language of nationalism
  • Research HIV and hepatitis B transmission at the Botswana-Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory
  • Teach English and foster American goodwill around the globe

Meet the Fulbright Recipients

Callie Carlson '18 received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship award and will teach English in Malaysia.

Carlson came to Davidson from Greensboro, North Carolina. A political science major, she examined the rise of democratic institutions in Myanmar for her senior paper research.

Carlson served as the student solicitor of the Honor Council. Her interest in international affairs was cemented through an internship with Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C., and she spent a semester abroad in Valencia, Spain. During the summer of 2017, Carlson received a grant from the Freeman Foundation to intern for the Center for Creative Leadership in Singapore. She has also taught English to teenagers in Nong Khai, Thailand, as part of the Open Minds Project.

Katie Ferro '18 received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship award and will teach in Madrid, Spain.

The political science and Hispanic studies double major who came to Davidson from Chatham Hall in southern Virginia, studied abroad in Madrid during her sophomore year, where she volunteered at a local bilingual school and helped to lead a weekly language intercambio. Ferro also studied multilateral diplomacy and conducted independent research on cyber warfare in Geneva during the fall of her junior year.

With Dean Rusk International Studies Program grant support, she spent a summer in India with Agastya International Foundation, and went to Spain to teach and conduct research on the politics of the country's bilingual education system.

On campus, Ferro was an interpreter at Ada Jenkins Community Center's free clinic, volunteered at Davidson Elementary, was a research assistant to the English Department, served as a student ambassador with SEED20, and participated in an intercultural dialogue dinner with members of the local Latinx immigrant community.

Ali Galdi '18 received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award to teach English in South Korea. She acknowledged the timing is interesting in light of the pending June 12 Trump-Kim Summit.

"It is the South Korean President's goal to improve relations with North Korea," she said. "South Korea is a notoriously safe place, and current events have not really impacted my decision process."

Galdi, a political science major and educational studies minor from Staten Island, New York, studied international humanitarian law in Copenhagen, Denmark, while at Davidson. She participated in the Davidson in Washington program while interning with a non-profit organization teaching inner-city high school students international relations and youth activism. She rowed crew and coached the Novice Women's Club Crew team.

Kirsten Huffer '15 received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship award and will teach English in Cyprus through archaeology and history, based on her past experiences excavating, researching and exhibiting Cypriot cultural heritage as a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates grant recipient with Davidson's Athienou Archaeological Project.

A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Huffer was a Dobson-Neely Latin Scholar and double-majored in classics and art history. She interned in the college's Van Every/Smith Galleries, excavated in Italy with Davidson's Salapia Exploration Project, served as an apprentice Latin teacher, and was involved with Davidson Outdoors. She curated a traveling exhibit of 3D-printed Cypriot artifacts excavated by the Athienou Archaeological Project and coordinated its travel to institutions across the United States.

Since graduating in 2015, Huffer has served as a Davidson College Advising Corps adviser in rural western North Carolina, where she recently shared her 3D-printed exhibit with college access program participants in order to raise awareness about study abroad opportunities.

Amanda Lee '16 was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach in Germany, with a focus on the history and language of nationalism.

From Jacksonville, Florida, Lee majored in classics and German studies. She received a National Science Foundation Research Experience Undergraduate Grant to conduct archaeological research in 2015, studied abroad in Berlin in 2015 and conducted research in Cyprus in summer 2015. Since graduation she has been working as a consultant in Charlotte.

Natalie Philips '18 will use her Fulbright Study/Research grant to conduct pediatric oncology research at the Necker Children's Hospital in Paris, France. She will be continuing the research she began last summer at the Colorado Children's Hospital, which focuses on a rare and deadly form of pediatric brain cancer commonly referred to as DIPG.

The biology major and health and human values minor from Asheville, North Carolina, worked on campus as a research assistant for the biology department, volunteered for the Community Free Clinic and was on the E-board for Rape Awareness committee. She spent a summer studying abroad in Switzerland conducting public health research for the United Nations, and a semester in South Africa studying wildlife conservation and management.

In her Fulbright year, Philips will be part of a French-speaking research team. "After being present when a family's three-year-old daughter was given the devastating diagnosis of DIPG, I am motivated to continue this research for the rest of my medical career," she said. "In my lifetime, I hope to be a part of curing DIPG so that other children will have a different fate."

Elizabeth Prosser '18 received the Fulbright English Teaching Scholarship for Mexico. She plans to pursue a master's program in Latin American Studies at Stanford University.

The Hispanic studies major from Wake Forest, North Carolina, minored in French and Francophone Studies. She spent her junior year abroad, in Arequipa, Peru, for the fall semester and in Tours, France, for the spring semester. Her Hispanic studies Honors Thesis explored the role of narrative in the representation of Latina immigrant and migrant workers in the United States. An Abernethy Grant expanded her field research to California to conduct interviews with Latina agricultural workers.

At Davidson, she was a Bonner Scholar, a Spanish and French assistant teacher, a Davidson Outdoors trip leader, and a volunteer Spanish teacher at Davidson Elementary School. Summers, she taught at the East Harlem School in New York and interned with the International House of Charlotte, Project Scientist and the Centro Hispano Marista of Atlanta.

She is looking forward to deepening her own knowledge of Mexican culture and the Spanish language through teaching, as well as trying plenty of new foods.

Caitlin Reilly '17 received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to spend a year teaching in Malaysia.

Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Reilly came to Davidson to major in environmental studies. She served as captain of the Women's Club Crew team as well as vice-president and trip leader for Davidson Outdoors. She also conducted research in the Davidson geology lab as a Duke Water Resources Fellow and twice received Stone Fund Grants that allowed her to travel to Ireland to work on a sustainable farm and to start the Davidson College Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

Reilly studied abroad with the School for Field Studies in Bocas del Toro, Panama, where she researched soil health on local cacao farms. Since graduating, she has worked for Overland, leading backpacking and kayaking trips in Iceland, and is currently finishing up her year as an Impact Fellow with the Catawba Lands Conservancy and Carolina Thread Trail in Charlotte. Although honored to have received a Fulbright, Reilly made the difficult decision to decline her fellowship and instead will return to the School for Field Studies and spend the next year in Australia working as a student affairs manager at the Center for Rainforest Studies, their field station in northern Queensland.

Cole Riggan '18 received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, which he will use to teach in Malaysia.

A native of Lexington, North Carolina, Riggan majored in political science and minored in philosophy. He was also a member of the men's swimming team, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and the Pre-Law Society. He served as a research assistant for the political science department and wrote an honors thesis titled "Evaluating Gideon's Promise: An Assessment of Indigent Defense Systems in North Carolina."

As a former research intern for Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and the United States Chamber of Commerce, Riggan is eager to study the role of democratizing markets and entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia while he teaches in Malaysia. "I am honored and excited to have received such an incredible opportunity," Riggan said, "and I cannot wait to explore the beautiful country, try new foods, and make many new friends along the way!"

Kaitlin Roberts '13 received a research grant to study disability rights at Freie Universität in Berlin.

Roberts grew up in Florida, Colorado, Virginia and Illinois. Moving and traveling inspired her interests in language and storytelling. A Davidson English major, she was a co-founder of the Davidson College Farm who worked with faculty, staff, students and farmers to bring more sustainable food options to the College.

Since graduation, she has been a radio producer in New York City. She has produced stories for StoryCorps and WNYC, and was the first employee at Gimlet Media, where as senior producer for four years she produced, edited and reported award-winning stories on business, politics and technology.

Roberts' interest in disability studies began in a Davidson class with Professor of English Ann Fox.

"It was the first time I really thought about disability beyond just being a handicap parking sign," Roberts said. "Dr. Fox's class taught me about the range of disabilities, both visible and non-visible, and how there are so many opportunities to make our society more inclusive in terms of the spaces we create and the language we use and the people we elevate to leadership roles."

Haley Sanner '15 will use her Fulbright Study/Research grant to conduct a market analysis of intergenerational homesharing to address the aging and caregiving crisis in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. She envisions her research will lead to a social-entrepreneurial business focus.

During her time at Davidson, the math major from Arlington, Virginia, was supported by the Dean Rusk International Studies Program, Civic Engagement, President's Office and the Kemp/Bank of America scholarship to pursue research relating to social isolation among older adults and people with multiple sclerosis, nationally and internationally. She pursued a two-year postgraduate experience as a 2015-16 Davidson Impact Fellow working on aging issues in the non-profit sector and the following year as an academic coordinator with the School for International Training (SIT). She currently serves on the AARP Foundation's Social Connectedness Team to mitigate isolation among low-income older adults.

Charlotte Scott '18 will work in Bogotá, Colombia, at la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.

From Indianapolis, Indiana, she has lived overseas her whole life in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Belgium. Scott is majoring in public health and Hispanic studies through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Latin American studies.

She worked at the Ada Jenkins Community Center, served as co-president of the Pre-Nursing Society, danced with the Bhangra team, sang with the Davidson Delilahs a cappella group, and served on the Union Board as student performers chair. She conducted research in Arica, Chile, and traveled to Cuba with a Dean Rusk International Studies Program grant to study the sexual health education of older adults (65+). She was recognized for service to the community with the Leadership in Service Award from the Center for Civic Engagement.

Zach Shaver '18 was awarded the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship for Study/Research. Shaver will work at the Botswana-Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory in Gaborone, Botswana.

His project is to analyze the vertical transmission of hepatitis B in mothers who are co-infected with hepatitis B and HIV. The results will help discover the prevalence of hepatitis B in infants born to these co-infected mothers and evaluate the efficacy of the current hepatitis B vaccination program.

The Charlottean majored in chemistry with an emphasis in biological chemistry and completed a summer and two semesters of research in synthetic biology with Professor of Biology Malcolm Campbell. Shaver went on the Davidson in Mwandi, Zambia, study abroad program, where he interned at a small hospital. He plans to become a doctor and work closely with patients who are infected with the diseases he has studied at Davidson and in his Fulbright year.

Natalie Skowlund '18 was awarded the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship to teach English in Medellín, Colombia. She also plans work on a community engagement project focused on indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.

The Lake Oswego, Oregon, resident majored in political science with a Hispanic studies minor. She tutored with the Learnworks after-school program at the Ada Jenkins Center, led trips with Davidson Outdoors and served as an assistant teacher with the Hispanic Studies Department. She studied abroad in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where she studied indigenous cultures and gained an interest in learning more about minority resilience efforts in Latin America. She also conducted research on the Spanish Gitano (Roma) populations in Madrid and Barcelona with an Abernethy Research Grant.

"In my Fulbright year," she said, "I will improve my Spanish fluency and also gain a greater understanding of how I, as a U.S. citizen, might help foster greater intercultural communication with communities in Colombia."

Steffaney Wood '18 was awarded the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship to conduct research at the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) Marine Science Centre under Drs. Anke Kremp and Sanna Suikkanen.

"In many ways, it is a continuation of my NOAA Hollings Scholar project and environmental studies capstone project studies," she said.

Wood will study the frequency and toxicity of harmful algae in the northern Baltic Sea's shifting natural environment, with a focus on the life cycle of the microscopic dinoflagellate species Alexandrium. Wood is an environmental studies major (natural science track), with a chemistry minor and pre-medicine track, who calls both the Washington, D.C., area and Southern California home. At Davidson, she served as news co-editor of the Davidsonian, president of the Environmental Action Coalition (EAC), Warner Hall House Sustainability Chair, and YouthMAP mentor.

Keely Brown '18 was awarded a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistantship administered by the Austrian federal education ministry.

The Dallas, Texas, native majored in German studies after becoming enthralled by the sounds of the language while listening to German rap in high school. Her Davidson honors thesis explored German hip-hop to fuel social activism and education of German youth. She earned the Bremer German Language Award for the work.

Brown worked at Davidson as a German teaching assistant and travel grant advisor, and was a coxswain for the crew team. She spent a summer in Ireland studying traditional Irish music with a Dean Rusk International Studies Program travel grant, as well as a full year in Berlin. With the Fulbright Austria FLTA, she will be teaching English to middle-school students in the town of Dornbirn in the Vorarlberg region of Austria.

Chad Salter '14 won a Fulbright Canada Independent Research Award to research how perceptions and uses of social media surveillance shape the social capital of refugees in Toronto, Canada.

At Davidson, the Mount Vernon, New York, Hispanic Studies major studied in Madrid and Cadiz, Spain, and received Dean Rusk International Studies Program funding to research perceptions of African immigration in that country. Since graduating from Davidson, Salter has worked on the Internet Freedom team at the Ford Foundation, addressing issues at the intersection of social justice and technology.

John Syme