Two Ball State graduates are just a part of the 1,900 individuals who have received grants to work and study outside of the United States in the coming year.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards recent graduates, master’s and doctoral candidates as well as young professionals with grants to study and research in foreign countries. These candidates live within the community and apply the education they have received into real world jobs and situations.

The program awards 1,900 grants to 140 participating countries annually. Since its inception in 1946, the program has awarded nearly 360,000 people from the United States. Applicants apply to one country only and must explain why they chose that country.

Kailee Ross

Kailee Ross, an elementary education major with a license in English as a new language, graduated from Ball State in May. She will stay in Athens, Greece, for 10 months — one of the longest grant terms awarded — starting in September. 

Andrew Harp

Kailee Ross decked out her graduation cap with the Greek flag. Ross will be head to Greece soon to teach English. Kailee Ross, Photo Provided

“Although, having that long period away from the states was intimidating, I knew that the longer  I would be away and immersed in another culture the more authentic the experience would be,” Ross said. “I’m nervous, but I’m also really hopeful, and I think that it’ll be a really positive experience that I’m there for so long because I will have a chance to form sustainable relationships with those around me and won’t just be a drop in and leave experience.”

Ross was looking for international scholarship opportunities when she came across the Fulbright program. She said the process required applications and interviews through Ball State, then through the national Fulbright organization and finally through the committee in Greece. 

Ross said a large reason she selected Greece as her country was the community involvement of the program, which will put her in charge extracurricular activities including an after-school language and debate club and a camp. 

She said she intends to create empathy between herself and her future English as a second language students (ESL) who may be going through experiences of living and speaking in a brand new place.

“I really hope that I can not just bring my culture into the classroom over there, but learn what their classroom climate is and learn some things from the teachers and professors over there and to bring that back to the United States someday so I can better teach my ESL students and understand where they’re coming from,” Ross said.

Annie Burnett

Burnett, a 2018 graduate with a degree in acting and a minor in Spanish, decided to apply for the Fulbright program when she noticed an email for language majors and minors encouraging them to apply to the program. She was accepted, and is now planning on working, studying and teaching English in Uruguay for nine months beginning in March.

Annie Burnett will travel to Uruguay to teach English to students. She hopes to start a bilingual theater group while in the program.   Annie Burnett, Photo Provided

She said she was not particular about which country she applied to visit, but Uruguay had the age range of kids she wanted to teach. 

“I think it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be a whole new country, pretty far away,” Burnett said. “But that’s kind of also the thing I’m most excited for is cultural immersion. That scariness is also really exciting.”

Like Ross, Burnett also will teach English to students in Uruguay, though this isn’t her first experience in another country. 

Burnett has traveled abroad in the past, but only for a month at a time. She said she is excited to speak Spanish full time and continue to develop her language skills. She even has plans to start a bilingual theater group in the program. 

After the trip, she said she has plans to implement her skills and education in theater and language in any job or opportunity she comes across. 

Contact Andrew Harp with comments at adharp@bsu.edu or on Twitter @adharp24.