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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

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Taylor Reed, Jakob Schmall and Ashley McMichael Taylor Reed, Jakob Schmall and Ashley McMichael

From Here to Aberystwyth: Aztecs Picked for US-UK Fulbright Program

Three SDSU students were awarded highly competitive scholarships to spend up to a month studying in the United Kingdom.
By SDSU News Team

Three San Diego State University students have been selected by the US-UK Fulbright Commission to experience the United Kingdom through a prestigious summer program. 
The US-UK Fulbright program is open to high-achieving first- or second-year students with a minimum GPA of 3.7 and at least two years of undergraduate study remaining after the program finishes. Preference is given to students who have had very little to no travel experience outside North America. 

There are nine program opportunities throughout the United Kingdom with each accepting three to 10 participants from the United States. This is the second year in a row that SDSU students have been selected for the program.

Ryan McLemore, a study abroad adviser in SDSU’s International Student Center, said these scholarships bring recognition to the university’s nationally ranked international programs. 

“Our goal is to build a global learning community in which diverse perspectives and intercultural awareness are valued and promoted,” said McLemore. “Last year was the first time SDSU had a student accepted into the program, and this year we have
three. That’s pretty amazing when you consider the small number accepted from the entire United States.”  
Taylor Reed, a first-year political science major from Manteca in San Joaquin County, will attend a three-week cultural and
academic summer program focusing on contemporary issues in identity and nationhood through the lens of Wales, hosted by Aberystwyth University. 

“I’m looking forward to the mixture of classroom work and experiential learning that the institute describes,” said Reed. There will be a social program and also ample opportunity to explore the seaside holiday town of Aberystwyth. 

Jakob Schmall will attend a four-week program at the University of Bristol that focuses on social justice and the arts.
Jakob Schmall
The sophomore biology major from Fresno, who plans to become a neurosurgeon, is deeply passionate about music and the arts, as well as social justice issues. 

“I am excited to be focusing on music, dancing, philosophy and how that intertwines with social and health care issues in another country,” he said. “The history of the area, such as colonialism, will teach me unique perspectives about social change and allow me to learn about how activism is required for progress.”  

Ashley McMichael, another first-year student, will study in a four-week program at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, that focuses on conflict transformation. 
Ashley McMichael

“As an international security and conflict resolution major, this is an unprecedented opportunity to truly dive into the subject matter that I have chosen to study,” said McMichael. “I'm especially excited to hear from people who actually experienced The Troubles, as that subject matter is fascinating to me and the opportunity to hear eyewitness accounts will not be available forever. Beyond the academics, however, I truly look forward to being able to immerse myself in a new culture.”

Fulbright Summer Institutes cover participants’ major costs and provide them with a distinctive support and cultural education program, including comprehensive pre-departure guidance, enrichment opportunities in country and an opportunity to be part of the Fulbright alumni network.

The Commission selects participants through a rigorous application and interview process. It looks not only for academic excellence but also a focused application, a range of extracurricular and community activities, demonstrated ambassadorial skills, and a plan to give back to the recipient’s home country upon returning.

All three SDSU students will experience their first time abroad. 
“It is an immense honor to be chosen as a UK Fulbright Summer Institute participant and I am extremely grateful to have the chance to pursue my education abroad,” said Reed. “I hope this experience will allow me to immerse myself in the historically rich culture of Wales while contributing my own perspective from growing up in the United States. This is an unparalleled opportunity that will enable me to explore my passion for political science and international relations through living in another nation and learning about the relationship between my home country and my host country.”

Schmall is ecstatic to be able to do something he wouldn’t have experienced in his major. “The combination of topics is fascinating to me. I hope for it to help improve my communication skills and allow me to be exposed to different identities and ideas that shape both the United States and the United Kingdom.” 

McMichael said she thought her application was a long shot.  “I still cannot believe that I received the award. I am so excited to be able to represent the university and the country in this capacity.” 

Students interested in study abroad opportunities can access the Aztecs Abroad database to learn more about scholarships that support international experiences.