Two students up for Fulbright Scholarship

UNA continues to shine for the second year in a row as two students are semi-finalists for the Fulbright U.S. Student Scholarship Program.

Senior Alexandria Buttgereit and graduate student Elisa Coker are among five UNA students who applied for the scholarship this year. This is the second year UNA students have applied with 14 applicants in two years, according to a UNA press release.

UNA Director of Premiere National and International Awards Matt Price is responsible for encouraging students to apply to the program and advising them during the application process.

“UNA has had four semi-finalists in the past year,” Price said. “Thirty percent (of our total applicants) have become finalists. That’s phenomenal.”

The Fulbright program is a government sponsored international exchange program designed to foster cultural understanding, according to the U.S. State Department website.

Each year, the government offers approximately 1900 grants for students in all fields of study to travel to another country as English teaching assistants. The program currently operates in more than 140 countries.

Sophomore Charles Lieb said the program sounds beneficial to students who are bilingual by giving them an opportunity to make a living off of various languages.

“It is so cool that they will pay for you to travel and teach English,” Lieb said. “That is basically getting the government to pay you to travel the world.”

Coker applied to teach English in Malaysia, and Buttgereit said she applied to teach in Spain as a chance to perfect her Spanish.

“I remember at a young age, I would pretend to speak Spanish, and then I’d try to teach my siblings Spanish,” Buttgereit said. “I just found that I really enjoyed languages and the idea of travel.”

Buttgereit is a Commercial Spanish major with minors in French, Global Studies and Marketing Communication Technology.

She said she fell in love with traveling after she visited France the summer before her senior year of high school.

Coker said she developed a passion for international travel after spending two months in Niger West Africa.

“That was the hardest and best summer of my life,” Coker said. “It was of course a third-world nation with the highest infant mortality rate in the world. So there was the language barrier and cultural shock, but that really solidified that I knew I could use ESL to reach the nations.”

Coker is currently working on her master’s in education to teach English as a second language.

The Fulbright scholarship committee will notify students who receive a grant between March 1 and May 29.