In fall 2019, 41 Mizzou students and recent alumni applied for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, a nationally competitive award sponsored by the U.S. State Department that sends students abroad to study, conduct research or teach.
“We work with more Fulbright candidates than any other award each year,” says Rachel Newman, interim director of the MU Fellowships Office. “A strong candidate for Fulbright is someone who expresses a genuine interest in cultural exchange and who wants to develop their knowledge of another country and another culture.”
Eight MU Fulbright candidates were selected for the award, including Caroline Been of Fable, Arkansas. Been, who originally came to Mizzou for the J-School, realized after one semester that she didn’t enjoy journalism as much as she thought.
“I wanted to be a foreign correspondent,” says Been. “I didn’t really see that as being a career that would fulfill me in the ways that other ones could, so I switched to international studies.”
Been is now double majoring in international studies and Russian. She hopes to work in immigration helping refugees who are fleeing from conflict. This interest inspired her to apply for a Fulbright in Georgia, a nation with a large refugee population resulting from the 2008 Russo-Georgian conflict. Been will teach English and immerse herself in the country’s culture.
“Going to Georgia will help her further that knowledge of the region and move her career forward,” Newman says. “Caroline sees the benefit of developing her cultural knowledge so that she can be a more effective civil servant.”
Been studied abroad in Moscow after receiving the Bond Scholarship, a $5,000 award enabling students to study abroad for a semester. The experience gave Been a profound appreciation of Russian culture.
“Studying abroad for the entire semester exposed me to a completely different lifestyle,” Been says. “The Bond Scholarship focuses on creating a generation of global citizens — those who seek to understand their place in the world and understand different cultures.”
Alex Beattie, another Fulbright finalist and Bond Scholar, always knew he’d end up at Mizzou. He arrived as a biomedical engineering major. But after discovering a love of computers, he switched to computer science.
“I took the only computer-related course in my major and realized I wanted more,” Beattie says. “I decided I wanted it to be the focus of my program. The experience taught me a lot about what I don’t want to do.”
As a Fulbright grant recipient, Beattie will complete a master’s in robotics at Lappeenranta Technical University in Finland — the leading university for mechatronics — and expand his horizons by combining engineering with computer science.
“It’s one of the few programs in the world that offers training in mechatronic system design, which is kind of like robotics but all encompassing,” Beattie says. “And my mom is from Finland, so I have that personal connection.”
Beattie studied abroad at Linnaeus University in Sweden with the Bond Scholarship, which helped him realize he wanted to apply for a Fulbright and continue studying internationally.
“I thought about what it means to be a global citizen and how learning from different educational systems is incredibly beneficial,” Beattie says.
The Fellowships Office helps all of these students through the long process of applying for a Fulbright grant and gives them their full support going forward.
“Before, I always thought that these things were out of reach,” Been says. “But anyone can be qualified, and the worst thing that could happen is that you don’t get it.
“If it’s something you are even slightly interested in, do it.”
Other Mizzou Fulbright finalists
Anna Brugmann, Bulgaria Study/Research
“After graduation, I covered nonprofits and school programs for a weekly paper in Sarasota, Florida, for a year and a half before joining the U.S. Peace Corps in Albania. I learned a language and built connections with people and a culture I’d previously known little about. It also sparked my interest in connection between interpersonal trust and journalism.”
Kelley Fowler, Taiwan, English Teaching Assistant
Senior special education major
“Through the application process, I learned a lot about myself, future goals and my hopes for the future. When I found out I was a finalist, I was in disbelief. I remember getting the email while I was home on quarantine and immediately running to tell my parents, who were very excited!”
Savannah Modesitt, Belarus, English Teaching Assistant
Senior dual major in international studies and Russian
“My studies have taken me all around the globe: studying genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, living in Kazakhstan for nine months on an intensive Russian-language program funded by the Boren scholarship, studying international justice in the Netherlands and working for a rural development non-profit NGO in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe.”
Cydni Robertson, El Salvador Study/Research
Second year PhD student in textile and apparel management
“My Fulbright research project will assist in developing a new textiles and engineering undergraduate curriculum in Santa Ana, El Salvador. This program will allow El Salvador’s students to learn new skills critical for the job market as well as reinvest their talents back into Central America’s booming textile industry. I can’t wait to begin this phase of my life and I’m grateful to be a contributor to work that can globally impact lives for the better.”
PhD candidate in art history and archaeology
“The aim of my Fulbright project is to investigate, in the form of a long term local history, how the community of Ameria (modern Amelia) transitioned from a non-Roman polity to a Roman town. In particular, the project focuses on how the Amerini negotiated the processes of interaction and integration with the Roman state from 700 B.C.E. to 400 C.E. I will spend nine months in Umbria studying architectural and archaeological remains, the countryside of Ameria, as well as pertinent files in the archives of the regional archaeological superintendence.”
New Haven, Missouri
BA, BJ ’20
“I am so grateful to the professors, who helped me over the course of my college career, as well as the people in the Fellowships Office. Their support pushed me to achieve goals I couldn’t have conceptualized upon my arrival at MU. My project will take a long-form journalistic look at second- and third-generation Turkish-German girls across Germany to understand the factors — environmental, social and educational — influencing what they want to do with their lives.”