Centre College's 2023 Fulbright scholars

Old Centre with Centre College logo and Fulbright Scholars text

Centre College continues to place students in the most prestigious exchange program in the world, with five students earning Fulbright awards to teach English or study abroad.

Four graduating seniors earned Fulbright U.S. Student English Teaching Assistant (ETA) awards, and one first-year student will travel to Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland for the Fulbright UK Summer Institute.

“This is a very high rate of success with the ETA awards for the College, and it speaks to the impressive candidates we put forth,” said Robert Schalkoff, director of the office of fellowships at Centre. “Faculty and staff members who participated in the pre-submission interviews and read student portfolios, including me, were enthusiastic about this year's applicants. It looks like the Fulbright folks were, too! I'm excited for Kristen, Elise, Sarah, and Una as they take their next steps as Fulbrighters.”

Those thoughts were echoed by first-time Fulbright adviser Chelsea Cutright, visiting assistant professor of international studies and anthropology.

“I was so impressed with this group of students,” Cutright said. “Fulbright is not an application that you slap together after a few rounds of edits. These students were dedicated. They shared their personal stories and experiences, and they worked so incredibly hard. I am grateful that I was able to share in this experience with them.”

Schalkoff said the full Centre experience is what best prepares students for the Fulbright application.

“Across the board, their study abroad experiences and on- and off-campus teaching and tutoring experiences stood out,” he said. “(Assistant Professor of German) Katrin Bahr and Chelsea Cutright, our lead Fulbright advisors, worked individually with all applicants, helping them craft their narratives in ways that highlighted the cross-cultural competencies and soft skills they developed at Centre and that Fulbright values.”

For first-year Brett Cooper, attending Queen’s University will be a great opportunity in the Fulbright network. Cooper was one 39 selected of 681 applicants to the Fulbright UK Summer Institute, highlighting the competitiveness of the award.

“The Fulbright UK Summer Institute is a US-UK Fulbright Commission program designed for undergraduate students who have no or very little international experience outside North America,” Schalkoff said. “Brett will get to explore the culture, heritage, and history of the UK while studying at Queen's University Belfast. I hope other students who are still at the start of their Centre career will consider applying next year.”


Kristen Bryant

Kristen Bryant '23

Major: Chinese and International Studies
Hometown: Mead, Oklahoma
Fulbright location: Taiwan

Fulbright U.S. Student English Teaching Assistant

“I know a lot of people (study Chinese) for business or politics — that’s not really my route,” she said. “The reason why I got into Chinese was to get people connected with others. I think that's my goal: bridge those gaps and help make connections with people.”

“My favorite thing about language learning is just transforming who you are — when I speak Chinese, I'm a different person,” she said. “Even though it's a language I know less than English, I can be more myself, because, when I'm speaking, I'm raw — I can't really lie or flower things up. I am who I am. I feel more confident when I speak Chinese, because it feels more natural when you don't have to try to be eloquent all the time. That's my favorite thing about it — discovering what I can be.”

Elise Burch


Elise Burch '23

Major: Spanish
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Fulbright location: Mexico

Fulbright U.S. Student English Teaching Assistant

“I studied abroad in Mexico with the Marista program and was an exchange student at Marista University during my junior year. It was a really great time for me … I’m excited to go back. Study abroad is one of my favorite things about Centre — there's only so much you can learn in a classroom.”

“(Associate Professor of Spanish) Satty Flaherty-Echeverria prepared me the most with the challenge and rigor in class. The one thing that has stayed firm throughout my Spanish learning experience is listening with the intent to understand. That's something I want to take into Fulbright and in my classes.”


Sarah Matthews

Sarah Matthews '23

Major: Anthropology/Sociology & Environmental Studies
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
Fulbright location: Spain

Fulbright U.S. Student English Teaching Assistant

I was interested in the Fulbright program, because I saw it as an opportunity to use the skills that I have developed through academics and service work while also expanding my horizons and pushing myself to be a better global citizen. I decided to apply for Fulbright in Spain, because I knew that I wanted to incorporate the Spanish that I have learned in my minor into my Fulbright experience. Among other Spanish-speaking countries, I chose Spain specifically, because I have primarily been exposed to Latin American contexts in my classes and volunteer work. Spain offers a new context to learn about the diversity of culture and language.”

“Centre prepared me greatly for the Fulbright program. I was lucky enough to study abroad three times over my four years: I spent CentreTerm 2022 in Mérida, México doing an internship for academic credit with an environmental nonprofit organization and living in a home-stay; I participated in the Strasbourg, France semester study away program in Spring 2022; and I traveled to Thailand in CentreTerm 2023 to learn about sustainable development.

“All of these experiences prepared me to live abroad and helped me develop a greater appreciation for adventure. Additionally, the community at Centre was essential to my preparation for Fulbright. My professors and peers have provided such incredible support and encouragement; they have taught me what it looks like to truly care for one's community and encourage character growth in everything I do.”


Una Mijatovic

Una Mijatovic '23

Major: French and International Studies
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Fulbright location: France

Fulbright U.S. Student English Teaching Assistant

“I have been interested in the Fulbright program for as long as I can remember, probably since my early high school years. I was fortunate enough to grow up around babysitters, teachers and friends who had either heard of or participated in awesome programs, such as Fulbright, and encouraged me to do the same. When I was younger, living abroad in France was one of my biggest dreams, and I always thought that going abroad for a year after college to teach English would be a stop along the way to my degree, which at the time I presumed would be medical school or law school. However, after spending an immersion semester in Nantes during my junior year of college, I knew that being in France for a semester was not long enough for me, and I started envisioning a career in international and language education.”

“For me, it was always France, as I am a bit of a Francophile! From traveling to France for the first time in high school to spending a semester there in college, to applying for a Fulbright, I have always been laser-focused on finding a way to get myself to France. Dr. Schalkoff encouraged me to consider applying to other French-speaking countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg, Côte d'Ivoire, etc., due to the competitive nature of the France grant. After taking approximately one day to think about it, I decided I was either going for the one I truly wanted, or I wouldn't go for it at all.

“I didn't think that I would be able to convey to the deciding committee my dedication to education and French language learning if I wasn't talking about a place where I truly wanted to be, and whose culture I have truly grown to appreciate and adopt into my life as my knowledge on the French region has expanded through my education.  Aside from my adoration for the program, I am really interested in conducting research in matters of race and identity politics, and what better way to learn more about this than in the most diverse city in France?”


Brett Cooper

Brett Cooper '26

Major: Plans to major in Business and International Studies
Hometown: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Fulbright location: Fulbright UK Summer Institute at Queen's University Belfast

Fulbright UK Summer Institute participant

“I’m really excited for the opportunity and journey: It’s three weeks studying abroad at Queen’s University. I’ve always had a passion to travel, but I’ve never been abroad. It seemed like a really good opportunity for me as a first-year student to get out and see what it’s like.”

“I’m also in the Brown Fellows program and will travel with the program to France later in the summer. Centre places a big emphasis on the international aspect of education and understanding new ideas, new cultures, new beliefs and just getting out there and exploring.”