Cultivating World Scholars: Davidson College Remains a Top Fulbright Producer

Fulbright postcards 2024

The State Department has once again named Davidson College as a top producer for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. With one of the nation’s best records, Davidson ranks fifth among four-year baccalaureate institutions.

It’s the ninth consecutive and 11th year overall that the college has received Fulbright Student top producer recognition from the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Last spring, the department named 12 Davidson graduating seniors and alumni as finalists in the 2023-2024 competition. 

The grants are funding independent research and English Teaching Assistantships around the world. That Davidson is consistently a top Fulbright producer is a source of pride — and opportunity — for many in the college community.

“In my time as Dean, nothing has made me prouder than learning that Davidson is a top-producing Fulbright institution,” said Shelley Rigger, Brown Professor of Asian Studies, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Davidson. She spent the 2019-20 academic year as a Cross-Strait Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan. “I know from my own experience as a Fulbrighter that these opportunities are powerful and thrilling. 

“Representing our country internationally as part of the Fulbright organization is an honor and a privilege, and having so many of our students and faculty welcomed into the ranks of Fulbrighters is a strong endorsement of our work.”

On Tuesday, Lee Satterfield, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs congratulated Davidson, “and all the Fulbrighters who are making an impact the world over.

“Fulbright’s Top Producing Institutions represent the diversity of America’s higher education community,” Satterfield said. “Dedicated administrators support students and scholars at these institutions to fulfill their potential and rise to address tomorrow’s global challenges.” 

We caught up with a few current Davidson Fulbright recipients, who shared some details of their time abroad.

Anthony Damian ’23 previously served as a tutor with the Young Eisner Scholars Program and team-taught Elementary Spanish at Davidson K-8.

He was an Apprentice Teacher for the Hispanic Studies Department and taught English at Colegio Menéndez Pelayo in Cantabria, Spain. He received the 2023 Mundo Hispánico Award for excellence in the study of the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures.

Catherine Johnson ’20 taught Latin and math in Charlottesville, Virginia after graduating from Davidson in 2020.

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and served as a research assistant, an Apprentice Teacher for Latin and Greek courses, a Latin tutor for the Center for Teaching and Learning, and an outreach intern for the Paideia Institute for Humanistic Study in Rome, where she studied abroad in 2018. She also participated in the Davidson College Presbyterian Church Handbell Ensemble and received the Society for Classical Studies Outstanding Student Award and the CAMWS Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Classical Studies.

Isabelle Saba ’23 is investigating how cultural expression, preservation, and personal identity have transformed among the more than 650,000+ Syrian refugees. 

Her Fulbright project will build on Al-Balad Theater’s previous research on Syrian storytelling. Saba draws upon her experience as a pastoral care intern (for which she received a Congregational Fellowship in Religious Leadership and Service from the Chaplain’s Office) and advanced proficiency in Arabic. 

At Davidson, Saba was a tour guide, President of the Union Board, and member of the MENA Student Association. She was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Saba studied abroad at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco, and participated in a virtual Arabic program with the Qasid Institute. She also participated in multiple Theatre Department productions, was awarded Davidson’s 2023 Keiser Prize in English for Classical Performance, and served as an electric intern with the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.

Tan Abascal ’23 honed his teaching skills at Davidson as an apprentice teacher in the Hispanic Studies department.

A Posse Scholar at Davidson with aspirations to attend medical school, he was also a member of the Pre-Medicine Society and conducted research in the Chemistry Department. He is now completing an English Teaching Assistantship in Türkiye.


The Fulbright competition is administered at Davidson College through Gaylena Merritt (, director of Davidson's Office of Fellowships. For more information about the Office of Fellowships or how to apply for Fulbright through Davidson, visit