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SLU Students, Alumnus Earn 2023 Fulbright Awards

by Joe Barker on 05/12/2023


Two Saint Louis University students and one alumnus have been selected to participate in the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program. 

Adam Ryan, Sierra Zima and Krysta Couzi became the latest SLU graduates to take part in the program. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is designed to expand perspectives through academic and professional advancement and cross-cultural dialogue.

“Fulbright prizes ideas like curiosity, servant leadership, and global citizenship—all of which are at the heart of SLU’s mission,” said Robert Pampel, Ph.D., director of the University Honors Program. “It is no surprise that SLU students are consistently competitive for this premier international exchange program.”

In partnership with more than 140 countries worldwide, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers opportunities to graduating college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals. Program participants pursue graduate study, conduct research, or teach English abroad. 

“This year our recipients represent three very different types of awards—an English teaching assistantship in Ghana, a combined award in Austria, and a binational business program in Mexico,” Pampel said. “Their geographic reach and intellectual interests are a great representation of the many opportunities Fulbright provides and the eclectic interests of our student body.”

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.

Fulbright alumni from the United States and around the world have gone on to achieve distinction in government, science, the arts, business, philanthropy, and education. Among the ranks of Fulbright alumni are 62 Nobel Prize recipients, 78 MacArthur Foundation Fellows, 89 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 41 current or former heads of state or government.

Applicants worked with the University Honors Program throughout the process. 

“It is a joy and privilege to work with such thoughtful and ambitious SLU students,” Pampel said. “Each of them brought distinctive gifts and interests to their applications, but also an openness to learning from our endorsement committee about how to tell their stories in authentic and powerful ways. I’m so thankful the national and country selection committees saw what we saw in these outstanding students.”

Adam Ryan, A&S ’22, CSB ’23 

Ryan was awarded a Fulbright Combined Award to Austria

Adam Ryan
Adam Ryan. Photo submitted.

“The Fulbright Program afforded me the opportunity to conduct political science research at the University of Vienna while serving as an English Teaching Assistant at a secondary school in Austria," Ryan said. "To my knowledge, Fulbright Austria is the sole program that offers this distinctive combined award, and it was precisely this blend of experiences that attracted me to apply for the scholarship.

"My research will delve into the ongoing conflict between nationalism and liberalism in Europe, with a particular focus on the complex relationship between political ideology and the structural conditions that underlie geopolitical tensions. Austria — as a country that has historically been caught in the middle of great power conflict and inhabits a similar position today as it maintains military neutrality — is the ideal site to carry out this research. Serving as an English Teaching Assistant will complement my research as engaging with students and working within the Austrian education will enrich my understanding of Austria’s history, culture, and values. I ultimately aim to contribute to academic discourse by publishing my work in a Political Science or International Relations journal."

Sierra Zima, CSB Madrid ’20

Zima received a Binational Business Program to Mexico award

Sierra Zima
Sierra Zima. Photo submitted.

“This Fulbright grant has the best of both worlds: real-world internship experience and in-class MBA coursework," Zima said. "I knew I wanted to take my career in international business further with a more international resume and eventually get an MBA, so this program seemed like a perfect fit for me. I applied for this grant last year and was named an alternate. While initially discouraged, I truly felt this grant aligned well with my personal and professional goals, so I applied again—and I’m happy I did. 

“With the combination of classroom education and hands-on work experience in Mexico, this grant will allow me to continue exploring my passions for food and sustainability, learn from the experts, and share cultural and industry knowledge with peers.”

Krysta Couzi, PH ’23

Couzi received an English Teaching Assistantship to Ghana.

Krysta Couzi
Krysta Couzi. Photo submitted.

“After teaching ESL during my time abroad in Madrid, Spain, I knew that I wanted to continue teaching at some point in my life," Couzi said. I heard about the Fulbright more in-depth during that time and thought it was a great opportunity to not only teach English but also immerse myself in a cultural exchange. With my father being from West Africa, I knew I wanted to continue my endeavors of learning about his upbringing, while also utilizing my skills to give back to the community, which is why I specifically chose to pursue Ghana for my ETA.

“Throughout my time in Ghana, I will be teaching and learning simultaneously. My hope is that I allow myself to be open to knew ideas, immerse myself in the new environment, create meaningful friendships and relationships, and be a transformative leader. It's extremely important to me that I establish myself as part of the community while understanding that I'm also there to learn and understand- I am not the expert, and while I will be teaching and providing useful skills, there is still an entire culture and its people I will respect and learn from. Going in with this mindset will help me both personally and professionally while I'm there, and allow me to truly dive into what life is like for the people of Ghana.”

About Saint Louis University

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers more than 15,200 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.