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Sunset behind the Student Union. Photo by Andrew Kochamba.

UT is looking at another blockbuster year for Fulbright Student awards, with 17 current students and recent graduates offered fellowships and another eight named alternates. A year ago, UT had 19 Fulbrights.

“On the heels of being named one of the nation’s top-producing Fulbright Student institutions, we’ve enjoyed another fantastic showing in this prestigious national program,” said Andrew Seidler, director of the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships. “I am so proud of these students and thrilled about the experiences that lie ahead for them. And I’m grateful for the tremendous faculty and staff support of our campus Fulbright efforts.”

These UT students and recent graduates were offered 2019–20 Fulbright awards:

Michelle BarnettMichelle Barnett, of Cincinnati, Ohio, graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in modern foreign languages and literatures with a concentration in Hispanic studies. Barnett will be going to Ecuador on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. Barnett aspires to teach English as a second language in the United States.

Hera Jay BrownHera Jay Brown, of Corryton, Tennessee, an August 2018 Haslam Scholar graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociocultural anthropology and migration studies through the College Scholars program. Brown will go to Belgium, Lithuania, and Malta on a Fulbright-Schuman European Union Research Grant. “My research project will examine how golden visa schemes—national policies in various EU countries that aim to raise billions of euros in national funding by providing citizenship and residency rights to investors meeting certain in-country investment thresholds—affect concepts of national identity and societal roles of Maltese and Lithuanian citizens,” Brown said.

Sarah CrowleySarah Crowley, of Knoxville, a May 2019 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in honors social work. Crowley has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to South Korea. Crowley plans to emphasize art and art history in her classroom work. “I also hope to personally explore and incorporate the history and modern impacts of mindfulness practice into the classroom throughout this program,” Crowley said.

Ben DeHavenBen DeHaven, of Kents Hill, Maine, is a May 2019 graduate with an MFA in creative writing. DeHaven will be going to Colombia on a Fulbright Arts Grant. “I will be working on a creative writing project about the lasting impacts of Cold War–era US foreign policy decisions on communities in Central and South America,” DeHaven said.

Abby DurickAbby Durick, of London, England, earned a bachelor’s degree in classical archaeology in August 2017 as a Haslam Scholar at UT. Durick earned a master’s degree in classical archaeology from Oxford University in June 2018 and is currently enrolled in a master’s program on managing archaeological sites at University College London. Durick will be going to Bulgaria on a Fulbright Research Grant. “My project will investigate the possible movement of Mycenaean people northward via Turkey and the Black Sea region between 1150 and 700 BCE in the Pre-Thracian regions of Bulgaria,” Durick said. “I will investigate burial archaeology with particular focus on grave masks and gold craftsmanship, and I will be doing archival research on excavations published during the Communist occupation in the 1960s.”

Andrew FranksAndrew Franks, of Maryville, Tennessee, a May 2019 graduate who majored in forestry with minors in international agriculture, watershed, and wildlife and fisheries science. Franks will be going to the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia on a Fulbright Research Grant to study the impact of small-scale logging operations on forest soils.

Kelli FrawleyKelli Frawley, of Kingsport, Tennessee, and Benicia, California, who earned a bachelor’s degree in May 2018, majoring in English and minoring in Hispanic studies. Frawley has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Argentina. “I will teach English to university students who aspire to be teachers. Outside of the classroom, I plan to explore Argentine poetry and the modern reception of poets like Alfonsina Storni,” Frawley said.

Ryan GesmeRyan Gesme, of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a PhD candidate in history. Gesme will be traveling to Germany to do dissertation research on a Fulbright Research Grant. “My dissertation project examines the identity formation of the Danish- and German-speaking communities in northern Germany from 1897 to 1920, focusing in on the cataclysmic event of the First World War,” Gesme said. “I seek to understand how conflict, international rhetoric, and outside actors diminished the previously culturally ambiguous space that had allowed many local individuals to express indifference to the nationality question.”

Logan HoustonLogan Houston, of Cookeville, Tennessee, a May 2019 graduate with a double major in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology and in Hispanic studies. Houston will go to Mexico on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. “Given that a career in medicine will put me in contact with people from all backgrounds, receiving a Fulbright to Mexico will allow me to see how health and wellness are conceptualized differently across cultural and generational lines,” Houston said. “It will be the perfect capstone to an undergraduate education in biology and Spanish as well as the ideal precursor to medical school.”

Annabel LargeAnnabel Large, of Jonesborough, Tennessee, a May 2019 graduate majoring in chemical engineering. Large will go to Sweden on a Fulbright Research Grant. “I am interested in studying the interactions between potatoes and their environment, specifically as they relate to plant immunity and disease resistance,” Large said. At the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Large will use the computational biology techniques she’s learned working in a lab at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Megan Vande LindeMegan Vande Linde, of Collierville, Tennessee, is a May 2019 graduate with a double major in political science with an international affairs concentration and Hispanic studies. Linde will go to Brazil on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. “For my supplemental project, I am hoping to continue formally studying Portuguese and volunteer with an outdoor recreation organization,” Linde said. “Part of learning any new language is spending time with native speakers and learning to appreciate their culture, country, and traditions, and that is precisely what an ETA position is about.”

Connor MitchellConnor Mitchell, of Cleveland, Tennessee, who earned a bachelor’s degree in modern foreign languages and literatures with a concentration in Hispanic studies in August 2018. Mitchell will be going to Spain on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. “I will work with a local school to help teach English and play an active role in my Spanish community,” Mitchell said.

Juhi PatelJuhi Patel, of Knoxville, a May 2019 graduate who double majored in microbiology and honors classical civilization. Patel will be going to England on a Fulbright Partner Award. “I will be completing my master’s degree in the history of medicine at Newcastle University,” Patel said. “I also will study intergroup contact in ancient history and work with an ongoing project to both better understand and pioneer programs to provide positive relations between different cultural groups in the Newcastle area.”

Josie PortzJosie Portz, of Springfield, Illinois, a May 2019 graduate who received a master’s degree in English with an emphasis on rhetoric, writing, and linguistics. Portz will be going to Sri Lanka on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. “I will further my experience in teaching multilingual students and continue research in religious cultural exchange—both ancient and contemporary,” Portz said.

Kirsten SalongaKirsten Salonga, of Nashville, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with a VolsTeach minor in May 2017. Salonga will go to a university in Colombia on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. “As a first-generation Filipino American, I have had the privilege to gain a variety of experiences, and this fellowship allows me to continue my pursuit of diverse perspectives while helping others,” Salonga said.

Patrick SonnenbergPatrick Sonnenberg, of Spring Hill, Tennessee, a May 2019 Haslam Scholars graduate with a bachelor’s degree concentration in sociolinguistics, gender, sexuality, and power through the College Scholars program. Sonnenberg will go to Lithuania on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. “Through cross-cultural challenges, I seek to better understand the post-Soviet sociolinguistic landscape, particularly the evolving usage and prestige of the English and Russian languages and how this has affected social practices, policies, and the education system,” Sonnenberg said.

The 17th student offered a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship has declined the award.

The eight students designated alternates could receive awards if placements open up in the coming weeks.

“When our students receive these national recognitions, it signals to the rest of the country what those of us on campus already know: UT is full of exceptionally talented students who are getting a world-class education,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor David Manderscheid.

We are proud of our students’ successes, but the awards themselves are not the goal. Those recognitions are a byproduct of the years-long investment we’ve been making in experiential education and of our commitment to enriching each students’ experience with learning that takes place outside the classroom.”

This year, UT had 67 students apply for Fulbrights and 41 semifinalists—up over last year, when there were 52 Fulbright applicants and 27 semifinalists.

UT students and recent graduates interested in the Fulbright and other nationally competitive awards can visit the ONSF Fulbright page to learn more about the UT campus application process and schedule an appointment with ONSF staff.

The Fulbright Program also awards grants to US scholars, teachers, and faculty to conduct research and teach overseas. UT faculty interested in the Fulbright Scholar Program should contact Alan Rutenberg in the Office of Research and Engagement.

In addition, some 4,000 foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study, lecture, conduct research, and teach foreign languages.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

Andrew Seidler, UT Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships (865-974-3518,

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