Four Selected For Prestigious Fulbright Scholarship

April 24, 2007

Three Baylor University seniors and a 2006 graduate have been selected to receive the Fulbright Scholarship for the 2007-08 academic year, bringing the number of Baylor students who have received the prestigious honor since 2001 to 11.

The honorees are:

Ana Thomson, a Woodway resident who graduated from Baylor in 2006 with her bachelor's degree in international studies and Spanish. Thomson will teach English in Uruguay, where she was born before moving to the United States at age 4. She will begin the program in 2008.

Brittany May, a senior University Scholar from Dallas. May will teach English in South Korea, beginning in July.

Meghan Merchant, a senior international studies/journalism major from Plano. Merchant was selected for the prominent Alistair Cooke Award in Journalism and will study international communications at the University of Leeds in England, beginning in September.

Ashley Peterson, a senior applied music major from Wichita, Kan. She will teach English in France, beginning in October.

"We are happy for these students and happy for the host countries to which they are going, because we know each of these young women will represent the U.S. and Baylor in exciting and positive ways," said Elizabeth Vardaman, associate dean for special programs in the College of Arts and Sciences. "The three Fulbright Scholars from Baylor for the 2006-07 academic year, who are studying or serving in Indonesia, Ireland and France, have been exemplary citizens, scholars and ambassadors. We know the students selected this year will follow in the tradition that has been set by the Baylor Fulbright winners from the past."

The Fulbright is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government that is designed to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries."

Currently a Spanish teacher at St. Louis Catholic School in Waco, Thomson said she applied for the Fulbright because of her desire to work abroad and become familiar with daily life in "a place other than what I have always known."

"It seemed essential to me to return to my birthplace [Montevideo, Uruguay], a place I had always been told about and have grown up speaking the language, but I had not had an opportunity to spend much time there," said Thomson, who still has relatives in Uruguay. "I look forward to learning about people's lives, working with students, getting to know them and establishing relationships. I feel like I am getting to do so many things I love to do: teaching, traveling, studying and sharing in a mutual exchange of ideas and cultures."

The Fulbright Program has provided more than 273,000 participants--chosen for their leadership potential--with the opportunity to observe each others' political, economic, educational and cultural institutions, to exchange ideas and to embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world. The program awards approximately 6,000 new grants annually and operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, composed of 12 educational and public leaders appointed by the President of the United States, formulates policies for the administration of the Program, establishes criteria for the selection of candidates and approves candidates nominated for awards.

"The application process is intense and the competition nationwide is formidable," Vardaman said. "We are proud to see our Baylor graduates recognized for these prestigious grants. They will make outstanding contributions next year in South Korea, France, England and Uruguay."

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