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How UNG alumni are becoming cultural ambassadors through the Fulbright program
UNG Fulbright Scholars
The University of North Georgia was recognized by the U.S. Department of State for being one of the top producers of Fulbright students in the nation. Photo courtesy of UNG

Anna Caitlyn Anderson couldn’t quite believe it when she first got the letter from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program saying she had been accepted for a scholarship to teach English in Madrid, Spain.

“I was at my internship, I got the email and I was just so excited that I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what do I do now?’” Anderson said. “I immediately called my mom and dad …. It was probably like the top 10 moments of my life.”

The University of North Georgia graduate had briefly visited the country years before when she didn’t know the language well, but after studying political science and Spanish in Dahlonega through last spring, she was more than ready to head back to learn more about the culture.

Now in the middle of her 10-month stint in Madrid, Anderson said the trip and getting to know her students has “been a great adventure.”

Anderson is one of many UNG graduates accepted into the Fulbright program as the school has been named a national top producer of Fulbright students by the U.S. Department of State for the past six years.

UNG, the University of Georgia and Emory University are the only universities in Georgia on this year’s list of four-year institutions sending the most students abroad through the program. UNG has produced 27 Fulbright finalists in five years, according to a press release.

"This recognition is a testament to the quality of our students and their desire to seek out global experiences that will shape them into dynamic leaders in our diverse society," UNG President Bonita Jacobs said. "Our faculty and UNG's Nationally Competitive Scholarships Office continue to offer strong guidance that makes these opportunities possible."

The program is a highly competitive scholarship that allows recent graduates and graduate students to pursue research, earn a graduate degree or teach English in other countries. According to the Fulbright website, it is designed to increase mutual understanding in culture and language between U.S. citizens and 160 other countries.

Anderson said she has been happy to serve as a cultural ambassador, learning more about Spanish culture from her students so she can also bring what she learned back to the U.S.

“One of the main reasons I applied for a Fulbright is because I love learning about new cultures,” Anderson said. “Especially working with 12-18 year olds, they are a wonderful resource to use because they share things about their country, things they do in their daily lives, recommendations on where I should eat, where I should go, what I should visit. So being able to learn the culture while also working with my students has been a wonderful, wonderful experience.”

Anna Anderson UNG Fulbright Scholar
UNG grad Anna Caitlyn Anderson was accepted for an English teaching assistant scholarship in Madrid, Spain through the Fulbright program where she has spent the last few months. Photo courtesy of UNG

Colin Tredway, who graduated from UNG with his bachelor’s in 2020, is currently teaching English in Germany at a business school in Bavaria through the program. He also loves sharing more about American culture with his students. For example, in December, he taught students about how people in the U.S. celebrate Christmas.

And through living in and adjusting to a different country, Tredway said the program has taught him about much more than just German culture and language.

"The most life-changing part is learning how to adapt to many challenges, both expected and unexpected,” Tredway said. “I've had a lot of bumps in the road, but this program taught me to be adaptable and to always be flexible.”

Dr. Anastasia Lin, UNG’s assistant vice president of Academic Affairs and director of the Nationally Competitive Scholarships Office, lauded the impact of Fulbright experiences for alumni.

"Our alumni return from Fulbright with a broader global vision they are eager to share with their local communities," Lin said. "They also return more sure of themselves, their place in the world and the opportunities they have to make a difference."

Another 13 students and alumni from UNG have now been chosen as Fulbright semifinalists for the 2023-24 year, including Madeline Grasso, of Cumming. The semifinalists will know by April whether they will be selected for the program.

Students interested in learning more about the Fulbright program should contact UNG’s Nationally Competitive Scholarships Office at for more information.