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Ten Pitt students and alumni have joined an esteemed group of scholars who have received one of the world's most lauded and prestigious awards from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
The University’s 2023-24 cohort of grantees includes current students and graduates from schools across campus, including the College of General Studies, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.
“The Fulbright is one of the most competitive awards available and it is truly outstanding that so many of our students this year have been selected as Fulbrighters,” said Nicola Foote, dean of Pitt’s David C. Frederick Honors College. “I am so proud of the commitment to excellence that our students have demonstrated and thrilled for them to have such a life-changing experience.”
[Pitt was a top producer of Fulbright U.S. students for 2022-23]
Fulbright, labeled “a global network of change-makers,” is a diverse and broad-reaching international academic exchange program with an organizational mission to increase mutual understanding and support friendly and peaceful relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Each year, the U.S. government oversees partnerships with more than 160 countries worldwide and supports opportunities to teach, research and conduct professional projects.
Lesha Greene, director of national scholarships and post-graduation success at Pitt, and her team support students in applying for national awards like the Fulbright.
Regarding this year’s cohort and Pitt’s track record with Fulbright awards, Greene said, “The tremendous success of Pitt students in the Fulbright process is a great reflection of the value of global citizenship imbued here at Pitt. You do not need to have a perfect GPA or have a lot of experience abroad to apply or be competitive; a genuine curiosity about the world and willingness to learn can take you far.”
Meet the winners
Annika Agarwal, of Marlboro, New Jersey, is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology with a minor in chemistry and a certificate in global health. She will travel to Mumbai, India, during her Fulbright to research menstrual disposal practices and attitudes.
Jasmine Al Rasheed, of Irwin, Pennsylvania, earned a Bachelor of Philosophy in international and area studies with a double major in sociology and minors in German and statistics. The vice president of Pitt’s Multiracial Student Association and social chair of the Muslim Student Association will travel to Morocco to research public health in relation to gender and religion.
Kush Batra, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, graduated with a bachelor’s in natural science from Pitt’s College of General Studies. The Frederick Honors College student also honed his neurobiology skills in the Hooks Lab. He will travel to Germany during his Fulbright to study Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative diseases at the University of Tübingen.
Regis Curtis, of Bulger, Pennsylvania, is pursuing a Bachelor of Philosophy in international and area studies, focusing on West European Studies. Curtis is also majoring in German and French with a minor in gender, sexuality and women’s studies and a certificate in Central European Studies. They will spend their Fulbright year as an English teaching assistant in Germany while continuing research on contemporary HIV/AIDS cinema, representation, monogamy and safer sex regimes.
Michelle Furmansky, of Dresher, Pennsylvania, graduated with bachelor’s degrees in economics and Pitt’s distinctive politics and philosophy major. The Frederick Honors College student also earned minors in Portuguese and Luso-Brazilian culture and a certificate in Global Studies. Furmansky will examine policies targeting youth unemployment at the University of Lisbon in Portugal for her Fulbright.
Hannah Heisler, of East Berlin, Pennsylvania, graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Philosophy in linguistics, a Bachelor of Arts in French and certificates in Arabic language and linguistics. She teaches English as a second language to refugees and immigrants at Literacy Pittsburgh through Compass AmeriCorps. For her Fulbright, Heisler will teach English and explore linguistic diversity in Morocco.
Dayon Ketchens, of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, earned bachelor’s degrees in linguistics and German language and cultural studies. As an English teaching assistant in Germany, Ketchens will explore his interest in second-language acquisition, specifically psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics.
Megan Liu, of Brooklyn, New York, graduated from Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, majoring in communication science and disorders and minoring in linguistics. Her experience as a Literacy Pittsburgh classroom aide inspired her to teach English in Taiwan, where she will complete her Fulbright.
Madelyn McCollough, of Woodbridge, Connecticut, is a student in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences pursuing a German language and cultural studies major with a sociology minor and a certificate in West European Studies. She will serve as an English teaching assistant in Germany.
Kayla Pierre, of Norristown, Pennsylvania, is pursuing majors in political science and economics and a certificate in Global Studies.
Applications for the 2024-25 Fulbright cycle are open. Those interested in applying should email Greene directly at leg78 [at] pitt.edu.
— Kara Henderson and Nora Smith, photography by Aimee Obidzinski