Two Phillips Ambassadors Awarded Fulbright Scholarships

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced that 14 current students and recent graduates have accepted Fulbright U.S. Student Program Scholarships for self-designed research and study, or to teach English abroad. Two of the 14, Sophia Zhang and Kavya Sekar, are Phillips Ambassadors alumnae. 

Zhang, from Harrisburg, NC, will serve as an English teaching assistant in South Korea. She graduated from Carolina in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in English with a creative writing minor. Zhang studied abroad as a Phillips Ambassador at the National Taiwan University in spring 2012.

Sekar, from Durham, will conduct a research project in India to understand the role of government health education programs in Chhattisgarh, India. She graduated from Carolina in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree with a double major in anthropology and biology, and a minor in chemistry. Sekar studied abroad as a Phillips Ambassador in UNC's Burch Field Research Seminar in Vietnam, during the fall 2012 semester.

Zhang and Sekar join more than 1,700 other U.S. students who will travel internationally for the 2013-2014 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential. The Fulbright program seeks to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

This flagship international educational exchange program sponsored and funded by the U.S. government is administered by the Institute of International Education nationally and through the Center for Global Initiatives at UNC.

Carolina has been named one of the top producers of Fulbright Scholars for the past five years. Rankings for 2013-2014 will be announced in October in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Working with these students is immensely rewarding,” said Tripp Tuttle, the University’s Fulbright Program adviser. “This cohort brings strong qualifications to the table, but more importantly demonstrates an aptitude and potential to become global leaders.”

Tuttle continued that often students assume a lot of myths about the Fulbright, many of which prevent otherwise excellent candidates from applying. Some students think they must have a 4.0 GPA, work in the humanities, or have already traveled extensively.

“Fulbright applications are evaluated holistically,” said Tuttle. “Committees are looking for applicants for whom a Fulbright will be transformative.”

He said that Fulbright seeks an applicant pool that is diverse, not only in race, ethnic origin and socio-economic status, but geographically, disciplinarily, and also in ability.

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