Thirteen UA Students Win Fulbright Awards

  • May 20th, 2020

Note: The story was updated June 30 to reflect the addition of Austin Blair as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award recipient. 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Three University of Alabama students received Fulbright Student Research Awards and 10 have won Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Awards for the 2020–2021 academic year.

The Fulbright Program is the most prestigious U.S. international exchange program, offering opportunities for students, scholars and professionals. The Fulbright Award of the U.S. Department of State offers one-year grants for independent study and research, and for English teaching assistantships overseas.

The highly competitive program selects about 1,500 award recipients from over 11,000 applicants each year. UA has received national recognition as a Top Producing Institution for Fulbright U.S. Students four of the last five years.

“We applaud every Fulbright 2020–2021 student applicant for their interest in furthering the Fulbright mission of mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries,” said Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost of international education and global outreach. “As the world unites in solving the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, that mission is more important than ever.

“We congratulate our awardees and know that they will represent UA and the U.S. with distinction in the coming year.”

Fulbright Student Research Award recipients:

  • Julia Coursey, of Washington, D.C., received a Fulbright Award to Hungary to conduct research at the University of Debrecen and in Budapest for her novel, “The Bathers.” She holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from UA and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College.
  • Joshua Kirks, of Kennesaw, Georgia, received a Fulbright Award to research, “Hollow Cathode Development and Testing,” at Dresden University of Technology in Germany. He is a UA graduate student in aerospace engineering and mechanics who holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from UA and memberships in Sigma Gamma Tau and Delta Phi Alpha honor societies.
  • Ashley Tickle Odebiyi, of Tuscaloosa, received a Fulbright Award to Italy to research, ”Gender, Authority, and Liminal Space: Roman Bizzoche, 1400–1500,” at LUMSA University and Sapienza University in Rome. She is a UA doctoral student in history with language study in Latin and Italian, earning a Bachelor of Arts from James Madison University and Master of Arts in religious studies from the University of Iowa.

Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award recipients:

  • Christine Jane Allen, of Auburn, a leader in Model United Nations, an experienced debate tutor, chief justice of the Academic Honor Council, Honors College member, fellow of the Blackburn Institute and 2019 summa cum laude graduate in political science and environmental policy with advanced competency in Spanish language, was chosen to teach in Spain.
  • Austin Blair, of Germantown, Tennessee, a Parker Adams Fellow and mentor of freshmen students, Delta Phi Alpha German Honor Society member with study experience at the University of Mannheim and fluency in German, and 2020 UA graduate in German with a minor in interdisciplinary linguistics, was chosen to teach in Germany.
  • Mason Olivia Blanke, of Tuscaloosa, a UA Presidential Scholar, Honors College member and 2020 graduate in electrical engineering and physics with a certificate in teaching English as a foreign language, was chosen to teach in Poland.
  • Camille Constance Nealey Carr, of Wake Forest, North Carolina, a fellow of the Blackburn Institute, Blount Interdisciplinary Scholar in the liberal arts, Honors College member and 2019 summa cum laude graduate in Spanish and political science with fluency in the Spanish language, was chosen to teach in Colombia.
  • Isabella Rose DeSheplo, of Washington, D.C., a fellow of the Blackburn Institute, member of the Carl A. Elliott Community Service Honor Society, Honors College member and 2020 UA graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science and a minor in public policy studies, was chosen to teach in Bulgaria.
  • Lota Erinne, of Peachtree City, Georgia, a poet, winner of the 2019 Greer Marechal Memorial Prize in Fiction, managing editor of The Marr’s Field Journal literary magazine, Honors College member and 2020 graduate in English and finance with fluency in Spanish, was chosen to teach in Spain.
  • Amelia Wyant Gaither, of Hickory, North Carolina, a writing center tutor, UA English Language Institute instructor, a founder of the UA Chinese Conversation Hour and a Global Café ESL conversation partner, with a bachelor’s degree in English from Davidson College and Master of Arts in applied linguistics and teaching English to speakers of other languages from UA, was chosen to teach in Taiwan.
  • Robert “Chad” Hankins, of Mobile, a Blount Interdisciplinary Scholar in the liberal arts, member of the Mallet Assembly and White Rose Society, certified teacher of English as a Foreign Language and 2018 graduate in political science with a minor in German, advanced German language competency, and Global Studies Certificate, was chosen to teach in Germany.
  • Katherine Lightfoot, of Northport, a discussion facilitator with the UA English Language Institute, active leader in Model United Nations and German Club, Delta Phi Alpha German Honor Society member, Honors College member and 2019 graduate in international studies and foreign languages and enrolled in graduate studies in German at UA, was chosen to teach in Germany.
  • Ian Samlowski, of Madison, a teaching assistant in the department of modern languages and classics, translator for the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center and fluent German speaker who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in German from UA with membership in Delta Phi Alpha German Honor Society, was chosen to teach in Germany.

In addition, 10 students were awarded alternate status in this year’s national Fulbright competition. They will be invited to serve should more openings become available to the national Fulbright Program.

UA alternates include Emily Adams (Bulgaria), Olivia Brick (Laos), Logan Fenhouse (Spain), Asia Hayes (Spain), Ekaterina (Katya) Khvatkova (Russia), Meredith Moore (Bulgaria), Austin Olivier (Germany), Rebecca Paholski (Spain), Caroline Smith (Spain) and Trey Sullivan (Bulgaria).

“Our campus is proud of these 23 exceptional student leaders in international engagement,” said Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of global and community engagement. “We appreciate the dedicated faculty, staff and administrators who advised our students in application for these awards.”

A team of Fulbright advisers from UA’s Capstone International Center, modern languages and classics department and Center for Community-Based Partnerships helps students polish applications for success in the Fulbright competition each year.

Students interested in applying for next year’s Fulbright Program can learn more at and, or by sending an email to UA’s Fulbright advisers Megan Wagner at, Dr. Matthew Feminella at or Dr. Beverly Hawk at


Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications,

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.