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On Wednesday, April 3, 2019, student-athletes from Duke and Stanford Universities joined in a webinar to learn about post-graduate opportunities with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The webinar was organized by ACE in partnership with presenters from the Institute of International Education (IIE), Stanford’s Bechtel International Center, the Duke Office of Undergraduate Scholarships and Fellowships (OUSF), and two Fulbright recipients who are former student-athletes from Duke and Stanford. ACE and IIE co-hosted the event because of their shared mission for global public service and due to IIE’s recent efforts to actively engage and recruit more student-athletes for Fulbright fellowships. The presenters shared information on the Fulbright application process, why student-athletes – and in particular ACE alumni – might pursue a Fulbright, and personal stories about participating in the Fulbright program.

After an introduction about the Fulbright program from IIE, the webinar featured two former Duke and Stanford student-athletes who are both Fulbright recipients. Tanner Johnson, an ACE in China 2016 and Duke 2018 alumnus, is a current Fulbrighter, serving as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Ourense, Spain. He teaches tourism, entrepreneurship, occupational therapy, data science, and telecommunications to students ages eighteen to forty-five at CIFP A Farixa, a regional vocational school. His primary role is to facilitate English conversation in each subject, helping his students toward bilingualism.

He shared that student-athletes are strong candidates for Fulbright fellowships because of their experiences. “Considering the skills that we [student-athletes] have built on and off the field… we’re really set up for a meaningful experience throughout a Fulbright grant.”

group of young student-athletes sitting in front of mountainous overlook
Tanner Johnson with his ACE in China 2016 cohort

“ACE is a big reason why I’m where I am today [in the Fulbright program].”

– Tanner Johnson

Tanner credits his ACE experience with leading him to apply to Fulbright. During his summer with ACE, Tanner worked in partnership with the China Exploration and Research Society (CERS) and VIA, coaching sports camps and leading education-focused workshops for local village children.

“ACE is a big reason why I’m where I am today [in the Fulbright program],” he said during the webinar.

As an ACE participant, he found that he enjoyed teaching and lesson planning, and this brought out a desire to teach even more when he returned to Duke. He jumped at the long-term teaching opportunity afforded to him by Fulbright.

student-athlete standing presenting with mic at Fulbright stage
Tanner Johnson presenting at a Fulbright – Spain panel

Kevin McLean, a 2016-2017 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow, also shared about his Fulbright experience. Kevin graduated from Stanford in 2007 and was a member of the Men’s Swimming and Diving team. During his Fulbright, Kevin spent half of the year in Malaysia and half in Ecuador studying and documenting animals that live in the rainforest canopy.

man repelling from tree in forest
Kevin McLean in the field during his Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

Kevin recommended prospective applicants to plan ahead when preparing their Fulbright application. “The application process is not short. It’s a big application. You have to be prepared and you definitely want to review [your application] documents over and over again, but … taking it bit by bit is really helpful.”

He also noted that the demands on his schedule as a Stanford student-athlete taught him how to manage his time while applying to Fulbright and during his graduate studies.

monkey on tree
One of the images Kevin captured while researching canopy animal populations in Ecuador

In addition to English Teaching Assistantships and the Digital Storytelling Fellowship, Fulbright offers awards for research, graduate studies, and public health outreach.

A second ACEathlete, Rachel Reichenbach, was recently awarded a Fulbright research grant and will return to her ACE host country of Vietnam after graduating from Stanford next month. Rachel, ACE in Vietnam 2016 participant and Stanford Women’s Track and Field member, will spend the upcoming academic year researching the ethics of immersive service programs.

Curious to learn more about the Fulbright program? Interested Stanford student-athletes can visit the Bechtel International Center’s website for university-specific details. Duke student-athletes can learn more from the Office of Undergraduate Scholarships and Fellowships. Duke’s campus deadline is August 14 at 8 AM, and Stanford’s is September 11.

A recording of the full presentation can be viewed here and the slides are available here.