Record Number of UTEP Students, Alumni Earn Fulbright Awards
Recipients will research, study and teach abroad
EL PASO, Texas (May 2, 2023) – Five students and alumni have been selected for the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program – the largest number of UTEP Fulbright Award recipients ever in a single year. Awardees will have the opportunity to research, study and teach overseas in places such as Brazil, Romania, Lithuania and Ireland.
“Our Fulbright awardees are another indicator of how highly qualified and well-prepared UTEP students are,” Heather Wilson, Ph.D., president of UTEP said. “When they know about opportunities like the Fulbright, they are very competitive. I am really proud of the students who prepared themselves and applied.”
The Fulbright Student Program allows current students and recent alumni the opportunity to engage with other cultures and advance their careers while spending one year abroad. The award covers round-trip travel to the country, a monthly stipend and health benefits.
This year, UTEP had a record 23 Fulbright applicants; 15 were selected as semi-finalists. In addition to the five awardees, three students have been named alternates.
“Applying for a nationally competitive fellowship like the Fulbright is no small feat,” Jennifer Green, director of UTEP’s Office of Student Fellowships and Awards, said. “I am so proud of the 23 UTEP students who put themselves out there by submitting applications for this award, and it is exciting to see these efforts recognized at the national level. This is a truly groundbreaking group of recipients, many of whom are the first-ever from UTEP to be selected to represent the U.S. in these host countries.”
Read about the 2023 Fulbright Award recipients below.
B.A. in Communication Studies and Political Science, expected December 2023
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award in Brazil
As a Fulbright awardee in Brazil, Joseline Avila aspires to engage with Brazil’s unique culture and give back to the community in which she’ll be teaching English. A bicultural, second language-learner herself, Avila hopes to organize professional development workshops to support the success of those learning English as a second language. After her time in Brazil, she plans to return to UTEP to pursue a master’s degree in public administration and expand her knowledge in different public service careers.
Jesus “Ricky” Gonzalez, Jr.
B.A. in Multidisciplinary Studies, expected May 2023
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award in Romania
With a passion for teaching and mentorship, Jesus “Ricky” Gonzalez plans to assist first-year college students to develop English language skills as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Romania. As a mentor, he will help students develop professional communication skills as well as prepare documents for employment and internships, scholarships and other opportunities. He hopes to form a professional communication organization that focuses on binational communication and provides mentorship and other resources to students. After serving as a Fulbright awardee, he hopes to pursue a master’s degree in professional and technical communication and test for a professional certification in project management before launching his professional career in corporate communications.
B.A. in Communication with a minor in Intelligence and National Security Studies, expected May 2023
Fulbright Open Study/Research Award in Lithuania
Aaron Hernandez hopes to join the Foreign Service, and his time as a Fulbright awardee in Lithuania will prepare him to do so. Living and studying in Lithuania, Hernandez will conduct research on transatlantic security issues by analyzing state actors’ rhetoric during diplomatic negotiations, focusing on the rhetoric of Lithuania, Sweden and Finland. Originally from Wharton, Texas, his experience in El Paso introduced him to the importance of supporting migrants as they cross borders. While in Lithuania, he plans to volunteer at local immigration centers to assist those who have been displaced from Ukraine. After his time in Lithuania, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in international relations and a career with the Foreign Service.
B.A. in Organizational and Corporate Communication, May 2021
Frederick and Anna Douglass Fulbright Award in Ireland
As a Frederick and Anna Douglass Fulbright Award recipient, Carla Palacios plans to study refugee integration at Dublin City University in Ireland. Through this award, she’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations to meet the need of refugee populations and learn more about how businesses can better equip themselves to create an equitable environment for refugee members or employees. She hopes to use her experiences growing up along the border to support refugees through the Fulbright award and beyond. In the future, she hopes to attend law school and continue working with community organizers and organizations to support humanitarian efforts.
B.A. in Linguistics, May 2022
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award in Italy
Villalobos proposed to use her experience growing up in the Sun City to serve as a Mexican-American cultural ambassador beyond the classroom, representing El Paso’s traditions, culture and linguistically rich environment as an aspiring linguist. Villalobos plans to return to school for a master’s degree in applied linguistics one day.
Three UTEP students have also been named alternates for the award, a high honor with the possibility of being named Fulbright recipients in the future: Brianna Perez, Rose Snyder and Ian Valdez.
To apply for the Fulbright Award, students undergo a long application process that includes interviewing with a faculty committee at UTEP. The committee recommends students to move forward in the process. As a former Fulbright awardee himself, William (Bill) Roberts, Ph.D., clinical professor and interim director of the UTEP Occupational Therapy program was eager to participate in the committee.
“Serving on the committee gave me the opportunity to encourage students to apply for the Fulbright Student Program and to support them during the application and interview process,” Roberts said. “I am glad to be a small part of a group of UTEP faculty and staff that works to create an environment that encourages students to stretch themselves a little bit and reach for big goals, like the Fulbright.”
About the Fulbright Program
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. 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. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in over 160 countries worldwide.
About The University of Texas at El Paso
The University of Texas at El Paso is America’s leading Hispanic-serving university. Located at the westernmost tip of Texas, where three states and two countries converge along the Rio Grande, 84% of our 24,000 students are Hispanic, and half are the first in their families to go to college. UTEP offers 169 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs at the only open-access, top-tier research university in America.
Last Updated on May 02, 2023 at 12:00 AM | Originally published May 02, 2023
By MC Staff UTEP Marketing and Communications