Three Georgia College students named Fulbright semi-finalists

Three Georgia College students named Fulbright semi-finalists

T hree Georgia College seniors majoring in early childhood education, communication and art have been named Fulbright semi-finalists.

They join a growing number of semi-finalists in recent years from Georgia College.

If selected as finalists, their travels will take them to South Korea, Greece and Argentina. Their applications are being sent to these proposed host countries to be reviewed. Roughly half to one-third of all semi-finalist applications are accepted as ‘finalists,’ the term used for Fulbright Scholarship recipients. Final status should be announced no later than June.

The Fulbright Scholarship provides wonderful opportunities for our alumni to learn more about the world and how to engage as respectful global citizens.
– Anna Whiteside
The university’s 2022 Fulbright semi-finalists are: Annabelle Erb, a senior early childhood education major from Johns Creek; Anagha Ramakrishnan, a senior communication major and English minor from Marietta; and Maya Whipple a studio art major with a minor in Spanish from Gordon.

“I am very proud of the hard work that not only these semi-finalists put into their application but all that our applicants demonstrated in applying to the Fulbright Scholarship Program,” said Anna Whiteside, coordinator of Georgia College’s National Scholarships Office.

“The Fulbright Scholarship provides wonderful opportunities for our alumni to learn more about the world and how to engage as respectful global citizens,” she said.

Selection for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is rigorous. About 12,000 apply each year. In the U.S., about 1,900 grants are awarded annually for all fields of study that take place in 160 countries. More than 400,000 Fulbright recipients have participated in the programs since its inception in 1946.

Prior to Whiteside’s helmsmanship and the creation of a National Scholarships Office in 2015, the university had three Fulbrights. Since then, more than 30 Georgia College students have received Fulbrights and other illustrious scholarships or fellowships––such as the Marshall Scholarship, Truman Scholarship, Newman Civic Fellowship and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Numbers increased as students came to value and utilize advice and support from the scholarship office. Applying for national scholarships can be complicated and take more than a year. Whiteside navigates students through the myriad of different programs, keeping them informed of deadlines and informational webinars.

She also helps students improve their personal essays by reading multiple drafts and making suggestions for added details or striking the right tone. She and a group of professors conduct mock interviews to ready students, and these can be intense with difficult questions. Faculty interviews help students clarify their goals and present clear visions.

Applicants are selected based on statement of purpose, academic or professional record, personal qualifications, language preparation, engagement in host communities and impact candidates could have promoting an understanding between nations.

“While our semi-finalists are each applying to different programs,” Whiteside said, “the one unifying factor is that they each exhibited the ability to represent the U.S. well abroad and to promote mutual understanding.”

More details on each semi-finalist:

Annabelle Erb applied for an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in South Korea. She hopes to use her early childhood education degree to teach English to children there. She believes this will “greatly benefit” her future teaching of phonics in the U.S.

If selected, she’s looking forward to traveling and learning a new language and culture.
 
At Georgia College, Erb enjoyed co-teaching in local schools. This structure is similar to what she expects as a teacher in South Korea. Getting integrated into a new culture will help her connect with future students from different backgrounds.

Erb’s been interested in Fulbright since sophomore year when Whiteside suggested she apply. Her “vote of confidence” kept Erb going, and she was “pleasantly surprised” at achieving semi-finalist status.

“I feel so thankful to have been recognized as worthy of making it this far,” Erb said. “Teaching English abroad through the Fulbright would allow me to grow as an educator and model lifelong learning to my future students.”

I hope I can show my students how going after your dreams and working hard can open so many exciting doors and opportunities.
– Annabelle Erb

Anagha Ramakrishnan applied for an English Teaching Assistantship in Greece. A communication major and English minor, she hopes to teach at Athens College, sightsee and get involved in a debate and English language theatre club.

Ramakrishnan worked on her application for a year, but to get a Fulbright U.S. Scholarship she needed to be an American citizen. Ramakrishnan took her oath of allegiance in September 2021, one month before the application deadline.

“I’ve always been fascinated by Greek culture, and I felt like my personal values aligned with Fulbright’s,” said Ramakrishnan, who plans to get a Master of Fine Arts in film and become a documentary filmmaker.

She’s grateful for Whiteside’s guidance.

“She encouraged me in so many ways and eased my anxieties,” Ramakrishnan said. “I really cannot thank Ms. Whiteside enough for seeing the potential in me.”

I feel incredibly grateful to have made it this far. Fulbright is such a prestigious award. Even if I do not make it as a finalist, just being named a semifinalist is an honor in and of itself. I’m so thankful to the faculty and staff at Georgia College who have supported me throughout this journey.

Maya Whipple applied for an English Teaching Assistantship in Argentina. She hopes to expand her education in studio art and Spanish while “immersed in the Argentine environment.”
 
Becoming a semi-finalist was a little nerve-wracking, Whipple said, because she’s never been outside the country for long.

“But it would be the experience of a lifetime,” she said. “I’ll continue to polish my Spanish-speaking skills and do everything necessary to ensure my best performance as a teacher’s assistant in Argentina. Latin culture is filled with vibrant art, which is something I look forward to.”

In the future, Whipple would like to be an entrepreneur and open her own bakery and art studio. She plans to conduct a supplementary project involving art and baking in Argentina.

Whipple is also appreciative of the help she got from the National Scholarship Office. Her application went through so many edits and revisions at Georgia College, she didn’t think she’d make it through the first round of Fulbright deliberations.

I feel very accomplished to have made it this far in the process. Becoming a Fulbright semi-finalist has instilled a great deal of confidence within me.