Fulbright Top Producing institution adds three additional scholars

by Matt Overing

Seal in front of Old Centre

Building on Centre College’s prestigious Fulbright Top Producer recognition, the College is proud to announce that three students have been named Fulbright Scholars for 2024. 

Sam Adams ‘24 (Germany), Ali-Grace Fleeman ‘24 (Spain) and Joey Johnson ‘23 (Bulgaria) have each capitalized on Centre’s global approach to education and applied that learning to join the prestigious U.S. Department of State program. 

“We’re very happy to celebrate the achievements and exciting futures that Sam, Ali-Grace, and Joey will have as Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs),” said Robert Schalkoff, director of the office of fellowships at Centre. “It’s clear their study abroad experiences at Centre were a strong part of their motivation to pursue Fulbright. I think our advising and support systems, including the individual mentoring all three students received from partner Fulbright Program Advisors Katrin Bahr and Mark Teshera as well as the Office of Fellowships, also contributed to their success. I can’t wait to hear back from them about their experiences in Germany, Spain, and Bulgaria.”


Sam Adams

Sam Adams '24

English Teaching Assistant


Family was an important factor for Sam Adams in his Fulbright application.

Adams said as much in his application — his father, Ben Adams ’95, studied abroad in Centre’s London program in its early days.

“He always said ‘If you have the opportunity, you have to live abroad,’” Sam said. “Maybe he’d change his answer if he knew how much I’d be gone.”

Sam took full advantage of Centre’s renowned Study Abroad Program, noting a course in Germany and the Federal archives as one memorable experience. He became intrigued by Germany in high school, earning a fellowship through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program.

But why Germany?

“It was one of the languages offered at my high school, but it was the least popular,” he said. “I felt weird and quirky learning it at first, but that program I heard about, CBYX, I took one year in high school, and it all of a sudden got very serious when I went abroad.”

From there, he was hooked — and he still stays in touch with his original host family in Germany from years ago. 

Centre then amplified Sam’s passion.

“Of course, studying German at Centre I got involved in studying its modern history, politics, activism and the issues that face Germany today,” he said. “That really got me excited about (Fulbright).”

Sam said he hopes to gain more professional experience, with the current plan to go to graduate school — potentially in Germany — and then work in foreign service.

He also recognized Centre faculty, naming Assistant Professor of German Katrin Bahr and the College’s Fulbright committee, as instrumental in his education and growth.

“The support from the Fulbright committee was phenomenal,” he said. “We began more than a year out, meeting and talking about the requirements for the application. There was a mock interview. They involve you throughout the process, and I felt very supported and prepared. 

“I would encourage anyone to study modern language [at Centre], especially German, because I know the professors to be extremely supportive and caring. They’re a big reason why I was able to do this.”


Ali-Grace Fleeman

Ali-Grace Fleeman '24

English Teaching Assistant


Study abroad experiences brought Ali-Grace Fleeman to Centre — and became her primary motivation for applying to the Fulbright Program.

Fleeman, an Asheville, North Carolina native and Behavioral Neuroscience major, highlighted four study abroad experiences that heavily influenced her Centre experience and Fulbright application.

“I started my sophomore year, and I've taken courses in Europe and Ghana, Bhutan and Mexico,” Fleeman said. “And throughout all these experiences — especially a semester in Mexico studying global systems and sustainable development — I really started to think about global systems in a critical way, and that also intersected with my interest in psychology and emotional behavior. I really want to explore that from an educational perspective and look at how that system might look differently in other places.”

She’ll take that critical lens to Spain as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA), hoping to gain experience in a bilingual setting while learning more about the Spanish healthcare system.

 “I’m really interested to see how a different healthcare system operates in terms of accessibility and healthcare literacy,” Fleeman said. “I hope when I come back, I’ll bring with me an awareness to issues and have more of a critical lens and motivation to address issues here.”


Joey Johnson 

Joey Johnson '24

English Teaching Assistant


Experiences abroad were key motivations for Joey Johnson to search for international postgraduate opportunities.

Naturally, Centre’s recognition as a top-ranked study abroad college made his search a quick one.

“The chances I had to study abroad at Centre gave me the chance to experience so much that I never would have seen otherwise, and that made me want to pursue international opportunities after graduation,” Johnson said. “I've always wanted to go into education and teaching, so being able to work in the classroom as an ETA (English Teaching Assistant) made me even more excited to apply.”

Johnson’s connection with Bulgaria is unique. A Raleigh, North Carolina, native and Anthropology/Sociology major, Johnson deferred his admission at Centre to attend a year of public school in Bulgaria through the State Department’s Kennedy-Lugar YES Abroad program. He would later return for a summer internship with a refugee relocation nonprofit, thanks in part to funds from the Lincoln Scholarship Program.

“I was excited to apply to Fulbright Bulgaria, because I wanted to go back to a place where I have friendships and community, and where I have experience as a student myself,” he said.

Johnson noted the encouragement from Centre’s Fulbright committee as instrumental in his success.

“Their preparation sessions in the summer and their advice throughout the fall really helped me put forward the best application I could have,” he said.


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Centre College

Katrin Bahr, Assistant Professor of German

Mark Teshera, Assistant Professor of Biology

Robert Schalkoff, Director of the Office of Fellowships, Assistant Professor of International Studies