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Colleen Ryan, of Cookeville, Tennessee, studied in the United Kingdom through the Fulbright program after graduating from UT in 2017. She’s now studying in China as a Schwarzman Scholar.

She is one of the growing number of UT students who have received prestigious scholarships to study, do research, or teach abroad. UT was one of the nation’s top-producing campuses for students receiving 2018–19 US Fulbright Student Awards.

Ryan, who was a Haslam Scholar and majored in global studies and sociology at UT, was recently in Knoxville on a break from her Schwarzman studies. She talked about the benefits she’s gleaned from both scholarship programs.

What was the best part of your Fulbright experience?

“I had a great experience doing my master’s at the University of York. The United Kingdom is a country that has a Fulbright commission so it provided a lot of extra programming. We had the opportunity to see archives at various universities that are only open to special visitors. We got to do retreats together in various cities around the UK. And I got to meet 40 other young people from other US universities who were studying in the UK.

“As a global studies major at UT, my focus was in conflict prevention and transformation. Through the Fulbright, I had the opportunity to study intersection of development, conflict prevention, and resolution.

“It was a great experience. I would do it over and over again, if I could.”

What doors did the Fulbright open for you?

“After spending a year studying postwar recovery in the UK context, I knew I wanted more opportunities to see more perspectives so I applied for the Schwarzman scholarship program. I’m studying the same issues, but from the Chinese perspective. Because China is the new economic development actor in a lot of conflict-prone contexts, it’s been really great to expand on the education I got at UT and then through my Fulbright.”

What’s your advice to UT students?

“I think for a lot of students, the perception is that the Fulbright and other fellowships are only for a specific kind of student. I think the outreach that the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships has done to reach wider parts of the campus is really important. Any student who is interested in opportunities to go abroad, the research opportunities that the Fulbright and other fellowships offer, really should seek those out and work with ONSF.”

What’s next for you?

“When I return to the US over the summer, I hope to go to law school.”

UT students interested in the Fulbright or other national scholarships and fellowships should meet with the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships staff.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,