Ten William & Mary students and recent alumni have been selected to receive awards from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which funds American citizens to study, research or teach English abroad. Three additional students were selected as alternates.
According to Fulbright, recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. Among the program alumni are several Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and former or current heads of state.
Since 1949, William & Mary has produced more than 200 Fulbright students in addition to this year’s recipients.
This year’s are John Patrick Canteros ’20, Diana Honey ’23, Aubrey Lay ’23, Jennifer Motter ’23, Thomas Plant ’22, Poojitha Tanjore ’23, Michaela-Katherine Taylor ’23, Audrey Thronson ’23, Garrett Weinstock ’23 and Claire Wyszynski ’23. Seven of them received English Teaching Assistant Awards, while three received a Study/Research Award.
Erin Horrigan ’23, Pietro Marino ’23 and Benjamin Schmitt ’23 have been designated as alternates, with the possibility to be promoted to finalists if additional funding becomes available.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is part of the flagship Fulbright Program led by the United States government in cooperation with over 160 countries. Founded in 1946 to promote “international goodwill and mutual understanding,” Fulbright encompasses a range of programs offering opportunities to students, scholars, educators, professionals and higher education institutions both in the United States and worldwide.
The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments, host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support.
Connecting people, connecting nations
The selected destinations of this year’s cohort of W&M Fulbright recipients cover a range of countries across Europe, Africa and Asia.
Lay, for example, will be traveling to Eastern Europe. Having worked with Ukrainian LGBTQI organizations, and as a lead for The Exodus Project, Lay aims to keep being involved with Ukrainian refugee populations. His Fulbright application, originally intended for Ukraine, was picked up by Estonia, a close ally to the country.
“The two countries are very much spiritual siblings, both fiercely proud of their heritage and defiant in the face of Russian aggression,” said Lay. “Estonia is also a leader in digital governance and innovation. Through my past research with Discourse Analysis @ William & Mary, I’ve explored online communication and marginalized communities. It will be interesting to see how similar or different dynamics play out in Estonia.”
Lay, a double major in government and linguistics, upholds the legacy of his late grandmother, who received a Fulbright scholarship to Austria in the late 1950s and subsequently dedicated her life to adult education, literacy and refugee advocacy.
Thronson worked with Ukrainian refugees, too, and hopes to build on this work as she prepares to return to Germany, where she spent a semester in 2022. A double major in international relations and German studies, she aims to establish a Model United Nations club at her destination school in Hessen to support global mindedness and collaboration.
“A sort of glee club” is what Weinstock, a double major in linguistics and Middle Eastern studies, will start at the Moroccan university where he will be teaching English. Knowing firsthand about the potential of music in the foreign language classroom, he aims to lead his students to discuss and perform songs exemplifying American culture, both as a cultural and as a self-expression medium. Weinstock’s ultimate goal is to become a professor of Arabic, and the network of language education specialists he aims to establish in the Middle East will help him facilitate cultural exchange programs for his future students.
Wyszynski will teach English to underserviced communities in South Korea, deepening her connections to her own Asian American identity and her understanding of the culture of her mother, a Korean immigrant to the United States.
South Korea is also the chosen destination of self-described “Air Force brat and third-culture kid” Taylor. An American Peruvian who grew up overseas, Taylor looks forward to being an ambassador for intercultural activities in a country she has a strong connection to.
Current students and recent alumni interested in applying for a Fulbright Scholarship should contact the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.
Antonella Di Marzio, Senior Research Writer