Twelve Elon students and alumni have been selected as semifinalists for the 2023-24 Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The Fulbright Student Program provides students, recent graduates and graduate students opportunities to study, research and work around the world. 

“I think if not the single most, one of the most transformative experiences I've had at Elon was applying for these Fulbright fellowships,” senior Hugh Goldstein said. 

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program annually awards roughly 1,900 grants in various fields of study. Students, recent graduates and graduate students compete for opportunities to undertake international graduate studies, advanced research and teaching worldwide. 

This year’s semifinalists from Elon are Goldstein, JoyceLyn Bentley ‘22, Heeba Chergui ‘22, Pierce Johnson ‘22, Emily Katz ‘22, Alexis “Austin” Moore ‘22, Morgane Smith ‘22 and seniors Madeline Fayne, Louisa Malchodi, Samantha Schwamberger, Natalie Triche and Rebecca “Emerson” Wells.

“I actually had no intention of applying for Fulbright. … I was more interested in the Watson Fellowship,” Goldstein said. “But for me, it's turned into a really intentional period of time where I have to think about what have I done for the past four years, and really the past 21 years of my life, that make me a really competitive candidate.” 

The Fulbright Program, founded in 1946,  is the flagship international education-based exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. The program is designed to expand participants’ perspectives through academic and professional growth opportunities and cross-cultural encounters. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional merit and ability, in order to advance the Fulbright aim through intercultural adaptation among other personal qualifications. 

Many students who apply to Fulbright choose to do so through the university they attend or have graduated from. At Elon, 22 faculty and staff from a range departments, such as policy studies, arts administration, spanish and communication design, preside over a Fulbright Committee. The committee assists with application reviews and conducts interviews and evaluations of all Fulbright applicants who chose to apply through the university. 

For semifinalist Pierce Johnson ‘22, Ann Cahill — a member of Elon’s Fulbright Committee — was the driving force behind his decision to apply. 

“I was actually first urged to apply for the Fulbright between my junior and senior years by one of my philosophy mentors, Dr. Cahill, who would eventually become my Fulbright application advisor,” Johnson wrote in an email to Elon News Network. “While I wasn't able to apply between junior and senior year, Dr. Cahill kept encouraging me to apply after I graduated. I knew the Fulbright process would help me with my graduate school applications, so I figured why not try for a Fulbright grant and see what comes out of it.” 

As semi finalists, students and alumni have been recommended by the National Screening Committee of the Institute of International Education for final consideration for a Fulbright award. They will be notified of their final award status this spring beginning in late March.