Skip to main content
Menu Search & Directory

SLU Students Advance to Semi-Finalist Stage for Fulbright Grants

02/26/2021Media Inquiries

Maggie Rotermund
Senior Media Relations Specialist

Reserved for members of the media.

ST. LOUIS - Saint Louis University’s Office of Competitive Fellowships and Scholarships announced Feb. 26 that six students have been selected as semifinalists for the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Saint Louis University

Fulbright invites students to apply for two types of awards: Open Study/Research Awards or English Teaching Assistant Awards. The Fulbright Open Study/Research Award is a grant for which a candidate designs a proposal for research or study at the graduate level in a specific country. The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program places recipients in classrooms overseas to supplement local English language instruction. Grantees receive eight to 10 months of funding to complete their award.

After recommendation from the Fulbright U.S. National Screening Committees, the semifinalists’ applications have been passed to the host countries for final selection. They will hear in the coming months whether they receive the award.

“We are extremely proud of our semi-finalists for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The application process is rigorous, pushing students to think critically about how they serve their own intellectual and vocational interests alongside the needs of their host countries,” said Robert Pampel, Ph.D., director of the University Honors Program. “We know this style of discerning scholarship and leadership is what makes SLU such a special place to learn, and this year’s early results show how well this mission aligns with Fulbright, our country’s flagship international exchange program.”

Applicants worked with Brooke Taylor, Ph.D., fellowships advisor, to polish their applications, craft their essays and incorporate feedback from faculty mentors and SLU’s Fulbright campus interview committee.

“Some students come into our office knowing exactly where they want to apply, while others are interested in exploring their options. I enjoy working with students at each stage in the process, from selecting the country and program of their choice, to helping them with brainstorming and writing strategies, to fine-tuning their application materials after they’ve been interviewed by our campus committee,” Taylor said. “Typically, students find the application process to be valuable regardless of outcome because it invites them to really consider their personal goals and the life experiences they want to cultivate.”

Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected through a merit-based competition that considers academics, personal qualifications, language preparation, and the quality of the proposed project, as well as how it fits into Fulbright’s aim of promoting mutual understanding among nations. Since the founding of the program in 1946, more than 390,000 Fulbrighters have participated in the program, studying and teaching in over 140 countries worldwide.

Saint Louis University Fulbright Semifinalists

Dru Swadener, Ph.D. candidate, History
  • Award: Open Study/Research
  • Country of Application: Italy
  • “The Fulbright grant will not only provide the opportunity for me to complete critical archival research for my dissertation but also will allow me to work directly with renowned scholars in my field at the University of Florence and to collaborate with scholars of the Medici Archive Project on an ongoing research project. My hope is that this interaction will not only result in a more nuanced perspective on my own research examining cross-cultural commercial exchange in the early modern period, but also will allow me to contribute to shared knowledge and will be the basis for enduring relationships with Italian scholars. Regardless of the outcome, the application process itself has been a valuable learning experience, helping me to concisely define and articulate my research project and goals and prompting me to establish new associations with Italian scholars and institutions.”
Nick Lewis, Ph.D. candidate, History
  • Award: Open Study/Research
  • Country of Application: Belgium
  • “Last year when I applied to Fulbright, I did not make it this far. I learned that a year can change a lot, and there’s no risk to trying, failing and trying again. I am a much better historian and a much more prepared cultural diplomat now than I was in 2020. I hope to use a Fulbright scholarship to spend a year in Belgium doing archival research for my dissertation. Aside from my academic life, I also am eager to practice my Dutch and French skills; up until now, I have been learning through apps and reading old-style documents, so being immersed in the actual language communities will be rewarding. I am most looking forward to meeting many of my colleagues in Belgium, whom I have only been able to email thus far.”
Genevieve Hilliard,  Ph.D. candidate, Biology
  • Award: Open Study/Research
  • Country of Application: United Kingdom
  • “There are many scholarship options for study abroad, but I chose to apply for Fulbright because the heart of their mission – cultural exchange and mutual understanding – resonated strongly with me. Especially in the polarizing political climate that exists globally, it is highly important to establish real, permanent connections between diverse cultures and countries. With the Fulbright, I hope to travel abroad to Swansea, Wales to carry out a portion of my Ph.D. dissertation. In working at Swansea’s medical school in the microbiology and infectious diseases department, I will investigate the impact of Manuka honey on dangerous hospital acquired soft tissue infections found in diabetic ulcers. Here I can forge long-lasting professional and personal relationships that will promote global collaboration in the sciences and cross-cultural communication. Applying for a Fulbright is an intensive process full of nerve-wracking anticipation, but is undoubtedly worth the pursuit for the possibility of a life-changing experience.”
Maggie Kenney, senior, Political Science / International Studies
  • Award: English Teaching Assistantship
  • Country of Award: Bosnia/Herzegovina
  • “The opportunity to serve as an English Teaching Assistant in Bosnia and Herzegovina will allow me to mentor young people, develop as a culturally sensitive researcher, and represent a positive image of the United States in a foreign country. I became interested in Bosnia and Herzegovina, specifically, after taking a class in the Political Science Department at SLU focused on Ethnic War. With the intention of enrolling in a Ph.D. program focused on International Relations after returning from an ETA, I felt strongly that I needed to fully understand the impact of violence and the power of foreign intervention before pursuing independent research in the field. Additionally, the opportunity to engage in independent teaching and researching will lay the groundwork for success in graduate school. The Fulbright program will allow me to gain cultural, humanitarian, and practical insights that will be integral to my development as a scholar of International Relations.”
Michael Treviño, senior, Communication / Spanish 
  • Award: English Teaching Assistantship
  • Country of Award: Mexico
  • “My plans for the Fulbright grant are to work in Mexico as an English Teaching Assistant. I have always enjoyed socializing and engaging in dialogue with other people and my family has some deep roots in Mexico, though actually I've never been there myself. While in Mexico, I want to act as representative of the US and be a resource for my students and the local community regarding American culture and the English language. At the same time, however, I am tremendously excited to learn more about Mexican culture and better my Spanish, especially as it all relates to the microcosm of wherever I am placed within such an expansive and diverse area. I have worked hands-on within the St. Louis community in small though consistent ways throughout my time here at SLU, and I feel like the Fulbright scholarship, especially the ETA grant in Mexico, is the best next step and the perfect amalgamation of all that I have been working towards and thinking about since I began my college career.”
Paige Giarmona, senior (Madrid), Political Science / Economics
  • Award: English Teaching Assistantship
  • Country of Award: Malaysia
  • “The Fulbright Program is so full of rich opportunities and experiences; the scope for both teaching and learning is infinite. In Malaysia especially, a diverse country with many ethnic groups, religions and cultures, the immersive year will be both profoundly rewarding- as well as challenging. I applied for this program in Malaysia to deepen my understanding of the Asian Pacific as well as to continuously develop my personal skills in intercultural communication through building connections with my host community. My career goal is to work in the foreign service, so this program is a natural step in my professional development. I am honored to be in the running for the Malaysian English Teaching Assistantship grant.”

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. It offers students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 2,000 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.

Those interested in applying for a Fulbright or another nationally or internationally competitive scholarship or fellowship should contact Fellowships Advisor Brooke Taylor at or visit the Office of Competitive Fellowships & Scholarships for more information.