University News

Carolina is Fulbright ‘top producer’

U.S. State Department has awarded the designation to the University for 14 of the last 15 years.

Shot of crowd with logo and text to the top left that reads

The U.S. Department of State has again honored UNC-Chapel Hill for being among the institutions having the highest number of accepted applicants to the Fulbright U.S. student and Fulbright U.S. scholar programs. For the 2023-24 application cycle, UNC had 23 — 10 undergraduate students, nine graduate or doctoral students and four alumni.

The “top producing institution” designation “clearly demonstrates your dedication to promoting global engagement and mutual understanding among the peoples and nations of the world,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote in a letter to Interim Chancellor Lee H. Roberts in January.

Carolina has received the designation 14 of the last 15 years.

“I think a foundation of Carolina’s successful track record is the strong campus community of support for UNC students to pursue a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Award,” said Emmy Grace, program manager for global education in UNC Global Affairs and Fulbright program adviser. “There are dozens of staff and faculty who encourage students to apply, serve on the campus review committee, provide resources and advise our students.”

Considered the U.S. government’s flagship international academic exchange program, the Fulbright program operates in more than 160 countries and provides opportunities for students, scholars and specialists to expand their worldview and gain meaningful cross-cultural experiences.

Various offices at UNC coordinate inbound and outbound Fulbright awards. Each year, UNC-Chapel Hill hosts dozens of visiting Fulbright scholars and actively promotes the Fulbright U.S. student and scholar programs.

“The Fulbright program helps foster cultural understanding, promote educational diplomacy and encourage global networking,” said Cassandra Alvariño, Fulbright recipient and UNC graduate student. “Fulbright has given me an opportunity to experience and compare how other countries perceive and react to changes in the international geopolitical environment.”

Alvariño is in her second year in the TransAtlantic master’s program at UNC. She was awarded a grant to conduct research in Sweden for her project about that country’s bid to join NATO.

“[The Fulbright program] is an important program because it allows for collaboration between two different cultures,” said Owais Mahmood ’21, English Teaching Award Fulbright Indonesia recipient. “I am the first and only American that my host community in Indonesia has ever come across. This allows seeds to be planted for the future, as the next generations further collaboration between cultures.”

Mahmood earned his bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in business at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

“Fulbright awardees have the rare opportunity — not found in other programs — to dispel stereotypes and provide a first-hand account of what it truly means to be an American,” said Max Hazerjian ’22, ETA Fulbright Tajikistan recipient. “Representing the U.S. abroad is no easy task. There are many challenging moments, but one’s character strengthens, and their resolve grows.”

Hazerjian earned his bachelor’s degree in peace, war and defense and political science from the UNC College of Arts and Sciences.

“As a diplomat, I’m proud of the Fulbright program because it supports changemakers and fosters global cooperation on issues of shared importance,” Blinken wrote. “Fulbrighters strive to make the world a better place in classrooms and countries worldwide.”

Fulbright offers hundreds of awards annually for faculty, staff, students and alumni to research, teach, pursue graduate studies and more. Learn more about the various Fulbright programs. The Center for Faculty Excellence provides guidance to UNC faculty pursuing Fulbright scholar and specialist swards.

“UNC being recognized as a top-Fulbright producing institution is a testament to the strength and diversity of talent of UNC students,” Alvariño said.