TU Celebrates Three Fulbright U.S. Student Program Semi-Finalists

Towson University is proud to announce three Fulbright U.S. Student Program semi-finalists. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is one of the most competitive intercultural exchange programs in the nation. The program provides funding for individually designed study/research projects and English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Programs in over 140 countries worldwide and grants are awarded in nearly all fields and disciplines. Eight TU students and recent graduates worked closely with the TU Fulbright campus advisors to apply for the 2021-22 application cycle.

Gaia Gonzales

TU alumna Gaia Gonzales is a semi-finalist for the ETA grant in South Korea. Gaia graduated in spring 2016 with a major in Elementary Education and currently works as an elementary school teacher in Baltimore County. She worked closely with her TU Fulbright campus advisor, Dr. Clare Muhuro, to submit a competitive application. Gaia applied to the fellowship in order to gain pedagogical and cultural experiences to expand both her US and Korean students’ world views. Gaia’s background in education, experience co-directing her school’s annual plays, and her firm sense of her own bicultural heritage will serve her well as a Fulbright ETA.

Aris Hines

TU alumnus Aris Hines is a semi-finalist for the Open Study/Research award in the Philippines. Aris graduated magna cum laude in spring 2019 with a Theater Arts major and double minor in Electronic Media & Film and Women’s and Gender Studies. Aris went on to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines and was recalled last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His project titled Theater for Youth: Empowering the Next Generation would allow him to return to the Philippines to engage Filipino youth in community cultural development as Filipino society reemerges from the impact of the pandemic. Aris worked closely with Dr. Tavia La Follette throughout the application process for this prestigious grant.

Garrett Leatherman

Senior Garrett Leatherman is a semi-finalist for the ETA to Italy. Garrett expects to graduate this spring with a Foreign Language major in Spanish and double minor in Italian and Philosophy. During Garrett’s undergraduate career, he has studied in Dublin and Madrid and obtained a TESOL certification. He worked closely with his TU Fulbright campus advisor, Ms. Katie Villamar, to submit a competitive application. Garrett has a love for languages and wishes to become a college professor. As a budding polyglot, he has mastered the Spanish language and achieved advanced proficiency in Italian. Garrett’s previous work as a writing fellow and language tutor  have prepared him to serve as an ETA in Italy.

During their grants, Fulbrighters meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country. The program facilitates cultural exchange in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, the Fulbright recipients interact with their hosts in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.

As semi-finalists, Gaia, Aris, and Garrett are among the top candidates for this prestigious opportunity for international scholarship. Fulbright finalist will be announced later this spring. Please join us in congratulating Gaia, Aris and Garrett on being selected as semi-finalists!

Are you interested in cultural exchange, community engagement, and making a difference in the world? Visit our website for more information about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

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This post was written by Villamar, Katherine H.