The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, recorded another impressive year for Fulbright Student awards, matching last year’s numbers with 17 current students and recent graduates offered fellowships and another four students named alternates.
These students will join the more than 2,100 US citizens who will study, conduct research, teach English, and provide expertise abroad for the 2020–21 academic year through the Fulbright US Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement and their record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.
Earlier this year, UT was named one of the nation’s top-producing Fulbright Student campuses of 2019–20, ranking seventh among public research universities and first in the SEC for a second consecutive year. This year’s Fulbright Student awards are a continuation of that success.
“UT’s continued success as a top producer of Fulbright students demonstrates the deep talent, curiosity, and dedication of our students, and we could not be prouder of their accomplishments,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor David Manderscheid. “I’m especially thrilled for these scholars, who pursued their interests, took advantage of the opportunities before them, and put in the hard work. We are honored to have them represent UT around the world.”
Fulbright continues to monitor the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Uncertainties over global travel advisories and changes to the academic calendar in various countries have forced postponement of key parts of the U.S. Fulbright Program for the upcoming academic year. Any changes, postponements, or cancellations will be communicated to award recipients by their host country.
These UT students and recent graduates were offered 2020–21 Fulbright Student awards:
Caroline Begley, of Knoxville, Tennessee, is a May 2020 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in child and family studies with a concentration in community outreach and psychology.
Begley will be going to Taiwan on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
She wants to be a program director at a nonprofit someday to help prevent child abuse.
“I am most excited for Fulbright because it allows me to work with children directly, and I can use the insight I gain from Fulbright and apply it to my future work with families,” Begley said.
Dara Carney-Nedelman, of Erwin, Tennessee, earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies in May 2019.
Carney-Nedelman was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Indonesia. Her placement was canceled due to COVID-19, but she will be eligible to be considered for alternative locations.
Carney-Nedelman believes that “language is the window to the world, but culture is the doorway to the world,” and she looks forward to passing on that perspective abroad in the future.
Alyssa Culp, of Merritt Island, Florida, is a doctoral candidate studying history.
Culp will be going to Germany on a Fulbright Research Grant.
She plans to visit various state libraries and archives, the German Museum for the History of Medicine, and surviving 19th-century morgues to explore the impact of medical and state intervention on German culture and identity.
Culp is excited for the opportunity to further her research and continue working toward completion of her dissertation, titled “Death, Tradition, and the Making of the Modern Morgue in Rural Bavaria, 1855–1914.”
Audrey Jean “AJ” Culpepper, of Knoxville, Tennessee, is a May 2020 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in modern foreign languages and literatures with a concentration in Russian studies.
She will be going to Russia on a Fulbright Research Grant to study the works of Aleksey Nikolaevich Tolstoy.
Culpepper, who recently received the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet award for Undergraduate Researcher of the Year, plans to analyze the political contexts and literary exchanges between Russian émigré writers and Soviet writers, as Tolstoy was one of the few to be active and influential in both communities.
“I am excited to research and live in a place I’ve studied, written about, and dreamed of for my entire time as an undergraduate,” she said.
Geghie Alayna Davis, of Maynardville, Tennessee, is a May 2020 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and a minor in entrepreneurship.
Davis received a Fulbright award to study at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom and pursue her Master of Arts in design.
Her thesis will focus on how communication through design can move public sentiment to support bringing modern internet access to rural areas.
“I’m so proud to represent rural Appalachia throughout my studies in the UK and hope to encourage others to push for change in bridging the digital divide in the US,” said Davis.
Amanda Gann, of Pegram, Tennessee, completed her bachelor’s degree in architecture in 2012 and graduated in 2014 with a Master of Architecture.
Gann received the Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Grant and will be going to India to work alongside urban ecologists and examine the ecological, economic, and sociocultural roles of natural systems in the development of urban landscapes.
“It is such an honor to be selected as a Fulbright student and have the opportunity to work alongside esteemed researchers in India to develop innovative strategies for resilient urban expansion,” said Gann.
Julia Goncalves, of Cleveland, Tennessee, is a May 2020 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in modern foreign languages and literatures. She had a double major in German language and literature and Russian studies with a minor in sociology.
Goncalves will be going to Germany on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
“This scholarship means much more to me than just the chance to speak German and teach English,” Goncalves said.
“I have the opportunity to proudly represent my country, my city, and my alma mater while working toward a career in foreign service.”
Anastasia Koumtcheva, of Nashville, Tennessee, graduated in December 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a minor in architectural design studies.
Koumtcheva will be going to Bulgaria on a Fulbright Research Grant.
She will be studying the use of building information technology to investigate how historical design and building practices can inform the modern housing industry’s response to climate change.
Brooks Leftwich, of Lewisburg, Tennessee, is a May 2020 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in honors mechanical engineering and a minor in reliability and maintainability engineering.
Leftwich will be going to Taiwan on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
He is excited to work collaboratively with educators and represent the US as a cultural ambassador.
“I am ecstatic for the future this award provides, and I cannot be more thankful for the endless support of my family, friends, and mentors who have walked with me through this process,” Leftwich said.
Michael Lidwin, of Chantilly, Virginia, is a May 2020 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and Italian.
Lidwin, a Haslam Scholar, will be going to Italy on a Fulbright Research Grant to investigate the effect of temporary exhibitions on Milan’s urban fabric, specifically as it relates to new developments and neglected housing projects.
“I see the Fulbright as the perfect medium for combining my two majors in architecture and Italian while continuing research as I apply my academic training toward on-the-ground engagement,” Lidwin said.
McNeeley Moore, of Knoxville, Tennessee, is a May 2020 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in honors English literature and a minor in English as a second language education.
Moore will be going to Romania on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, where she will be teaching English at the university level while conducting personal creative projects of poetry and photography.
“I could not be more thrilled to have this opportunity for fostering a mutual understanding between Romania and the US,” she said. “It is the culmination of my education, my pursuits in and outside of school, and my love for cross-cultural understanding.”
Aleksandra “Ola” Noras, of Charlotte, North Carolina, is a May 2020 graduate with a master’s degree in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology.
Noras has received a Fulbright Research Grant to Poland.
She plans to research the adaptation of barley to heat and drought stress using the CRISPR gene editing system.
“This award in Poland not only allows me to expand my research in plant biochemistry and gain new connections in my field but also will help me reconnect with and better understand my Polish heritage,” Noras said.
Shannon Perrone, of San Diego, California, is a May 2020 graduate with a bachelor’s degree, who double majored in language and world business with a concentration in Hispanic studies and global studies.
Perrone will be going to Brazil on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
She plans to include social justice and differently abled education topics in her lessons.
Perrone is excited for the opportunity “to connect with Brazilian institutions and nonprofits that focus on non-neurotypical education and inclusion” in preparation for her desired career teaching English as a second language to differently abled immigrant students.
Kristi Phillips, of Knoxville, Tennessee, is a May 2020 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in modern foreign languages and literatures, who majored in language and world business with a concentration in Russian studies and a minor in information studies and technology.
Phillips with be going to Belarus on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
“While teaching in Belarus I hope to gain experience developing educational activities in my host community that mirror the language learning activities that have enhanced my own education,” Phillips said.
Jaime Ragos, of Knoxville, Tennessee, graduated in May 2019 with two bachelor’s degrees and triple majored in food science and technology, language and world business, and Latin American and Caribbean studies.
Ragos will be going to Taiwan on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
“As our world becomes more interconnected, it has become increasingly important to engage in cultural exchange programs,” Ragos said.
“I am so honored to have been selected as an ambassador for both the United States and the Vols.”
Shannon Warren, of Waverly, Tennessee, is a master’s student studying secondary English education and English as a second language education.
Warren, who received her bachelor’s degree in English literature in 2019, will be going to Brazil on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
“As I teach non-native speakers, I will better my skills as an English teacher,” Warren said. “I am also excited to have the opportunity to be a language learner myself and I am thankful for friends, family, teachers, and professors who have supported me throughout the years.”
Jackson Wilt, of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, is a May 2020 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in honors mechanical engineering.
Wilt will be going to the Netherlands on a Fulbright Research Grant to study 3D-printed soft devices for medical purposes, specifically for artificial hearts.
He looks forward to interacting with communities abroad despite these uncertain times.
“The COVID-19 crisis underscores our responsibility of defending vulnerable populations and promoting public health infrastructure through international collaboration,” Wilt said.
The four students designated alternates may receive awards if placements open up in the coming months. This year, UT had 67 student candidates apply for Fulbrights and 44 semifinalists.
“To have become a consistent top producer of Fulbrighters is a terrific national distinction for UT, but what especially comes to mind right now is the inspiring commitment and desire each one of these scholars has shown to learn, to explore, and to do good in the world,” said Andrew Seidler, director of UT’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships.
UT students and recent graduates interested in the Fulbright and other nationally competitive awards can visit the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships Fulbright page to learn more about the UT campus application process, which begins with completion of a declaration of intent form and a subsequent meeting 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 can contact Alan Rutenberg, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993, email@example.com)
Andrew Seidler (865-974-3518, firstname.lastname@example.org)