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UNA foreign language grads win Fulbright Scholarships

FLORENCE – Ellie Talbot and Ellie Thompson, University of North Alabama graduates from the Department of Foreign Languages, have received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. They are the 13th and 14th Fulbright Scholars from UNA.

Talbot, a Spanish commerce major, digital marketing minor, with a certificate in TESOL, will be spending the 2023-2024 year in Mexico teaching English. Her plans include teaching English abroad.

Thompson, a German and history/secondary education major, will spend the 2023-2024
year in Germany teaching English. While in Germany, she plans to obtain a TESOL
certificate to teach English as a second language. Her future plans include an MA in
German or in English as a second language.

In addition to the Fulbright Scholars, other foreign languages students were honored:

  • James Wiegmann, Goethe Sommer Akademie in Bremin, with travel sponsored by the
    Goethe Institut;
  • Ethan Sowash, Phi Sigma Iota Foreign Language Society scholarship to teach German to
  • Kristina Williams, winner of a teaching assistant program in France; and
  • John Hall, winner of a Japanese Exchange and a teaching program grant.

“The Department of Foreign Languages is thrilled to have outstanding language students who consistently win Fulbright, TAPIF, and other premier awards,” said department Chair Dr. Claudia Vance. “We work with Dr. Matthew Price, director of the Center for Premier Awards, to mentor language students throughout the rigorous application process typical of these awards.

“His expertise, our talented faculty members, and our experiential learning opportunities prepare our students well.”

Vance said a number of upper-level students participate in UNA’s education abroad programs and others work in internships that provide a variety of interpreting opportunities.

“They also teach languages to children and other adults and participate in simulations,” she said. “We realize that the experiences our students have here at UNA are precisely the experiences that Fulbright and other premier awards look for in excellent candidates.

“We are proud to attract the brightest students to Foreign Languages, and we look forward to continuing to give students rich experiential learning experiences.”

Talbot and Thompson were selected as part of an open, merit-based competition that considers leadership potential, academic and/or professional achievement, and record of service.

The Fulbright program is the U.S. government’s flagship international education exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world.

Dr. Price has been working with students for several years on their application process, and he said the Department of Foreign Languages is consistent in producing viable candidates who are “natural leaders and ambassadors.”

“They thrive in unfamiliar situations,” he said. “They can work across language and cultural
barriers, and they have a deep abiding desire to make the world more connected. What we’ve seen over the last few years is that the evaluation committees for prestigious awards are taking notice of this fact, too. It is a very exciting time in the department.”

The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation from Congress to
the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating
governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program.

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