Three Abilene Christian University students will live, work and learn abroad next school year as recipients of the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. ACU had nine students qualify as semi-finalists this year, a record number, and three were named finalists, tying the university’s record for most Fulbright recipients, set in 2018-19.
“We are thrilled for our three new Fulbright recipients and excited about what the grants will allow them to do and experience,” said Dr. Jason Morris, dean of the Honors College and director of the Office of Major Scholarships at ACU. “The Fulbright program is a great fit for students at ACU due to its service orientation and global mission, and we love to see more of our students getting to participate in this highly-regarded program.”
Cesar Manzano earned his MBA this May through ACU Online and has been an 8th grade English teacher in Brownsville for the last three years. He’ll spend next year as an English Teaching Assistant in Spain.
“Coming from a disadvantaged family, I realize education is vital for my success, and I would like others to experience the same transformative power,” Manzano said in his personal statement portion of the Fulbright application. “After three years of teaching in the classroom, I am ready to embark on a new journey with Fulbright and teach abroad in Spain. I am eager to experience a new culture and connect with middle and secondary students abroad. I believe everyone has unique gifts, and I would like to share my teaching gift with the world just as my teachers did.”
Cassidy Miller is also a student through ACU Online and works in Abilene as the university’s study abroad coordinator. She will graduate in August with a Master of Education degree in higher education. Miller will spend next year in the Slovak Republic teaching English and advising students who want to come to the U.S.
Advising students coming to the U.S. will align well with her current position as ACU’s study abroad coordinator, and she said she looks forward to returning to the role after her year in the Slovak Republic and applying her new experiences to the job.
Bree Foster is a 2017 ACU graduate who currently lives in Glenn Heights, Texas, but will spend next year in Indonesia as an English Teaching Assistant.
Foster studied psychology at ACU and went on to study social anthropology at the University of Oxford for her master’s degree. After working in a variety of fields during the past few years, she got back in touch with Morris to see about applying for a Fulbright grant.
“I know that whatever I stumble upon every day while in Indonesia, it will be a moment to spread compassion, cultural understanding and a deep human love with my neighbor,” Foster said. “Indonesia in particular interested me for many reasons. I wanted to be in a location I have absolutely zero context for, and I have been to almost every region of the world besides Southeast Asia. I knew I wanted to work with older children or adults, and in a rural context. Indonesia has a very warm, safe, welcoming cultural atmosphere which will make it that much easier to integrate myself into their daily life.”
Students or recent alumni interested in applying for Fulbright grants or other prestigious scholarships utilize ACU’s Office of Major Scholarships. This office is part of the Honors College and assists all students interested in applying for competitive awards. ACU was named a top-producing Fulbright institution for 2018-19.
Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected in an open, merit-based competition that considers leadership potential, academic and/or professional achievement, and record of service. Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 88 Pulitzer Prize recipients, and 39 who have served as a head of state or government. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is also supported by people around the nation and partner countries around the world. – Wendy Kilmer