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First-gen students among those recognized by Fulbright UK Summer Institutes at AU

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Portrait of Amanda Hodes, who was selected for a Fulbright UK Summer Institute
Amanda Hodes, CAS/BA '20

Four AU students have been recognized by the US-UK Fulbright Commission, three of whom are first-generation college students. 

The US-UK Fulbright Commission was created by treaty in 1948. Its UK Summer Institutes introduce academically outstanding freshmen and sophomores to the history and culture of the United Kingdom, as well as its higher education system. Each summer institute takes place at a different UK university and is devoted to a special academic theme that capitalizes on the culture and resources of the surrounding area. Preference is given to candidates with little to no foreign travel experience.  

The Commission selects participants through a rigorous application and interview process, looking not only for academic excellence (including a minimum 3.7 cumulative grade point average) but a focused application, a range of extracurricular and community activities, demonstrated ambassadorial skills, a desire to further the Fulbright program, and a plan to give back to the recipient’s home country upon returning.

Fewer than 10% of applicants are accepted. The Office of Merit Awards (OMA) and faculty mentors helped guide AU’s students through the application process. 

Amanda Hodes, CAS/BA ’20, was selected to participate in the summer institute at the University of Sussex. A double major in literature and music, she shared her excitement about her upcoming program.

“I had invaluable support from my faculty mentors (Professor Rubenstein and Professor Sha) and the Office of Merit Awards. I'm excited to study the social implications of British children's literature and learn about the culture of many of my favorite authors,” she said.

While at AU, Amanda has served as a volunteer juror for the Scholastic Writing Awards, editor for American Literary, and DJ for WAMU. Aside from her academic pursuits, Amanda is also a classically trained guitarist. She received guidance on her application from Liz Veatch, a consultant to the Office of Merit Awards.

Maureen Smith, SPA/BA ’20 was selected as an alternate for the Fulbright-School of Oriental and African Studies program. She said the rigorous application process has helped prepare her for future scholarship and career opportunities.

“[It] taught me the power of telling my story, encouraged me to reflect on my interests and goals, and challenged me to trust my capabilities,” she explained.

Emily Smith, CAS/BA ’20, was an alternate for the Fulbright-AIFS Globe Education Summer Institute. She said the essays, interviews, and soul-searching that accompanied the application process resulted in personal growth.

“The Office of Merit Awards helped push my application to the next level,” she said. “I am fortunate to have my family, professors, and friends supporting me.”

Hodes, Maureen Smith, and Emily Smith are all first-generation college students.

Alexis Braun, SIS/BA ’20, was a finalist for the Fulbright-School of Oriental and African Studies program.

AU has had at least one summer institute participant each year since the program began in 2012.