Pictured: Darrika Morklithavong, Middle Tennessee State University graduate student, pauses for a photo on the Great Wall of China near Beijing, China, in February 2018. Morklithavong landed a Fulbright Scholar award and will work as an English teaching assistant in Laos this fall. (Photo courtesy of Darrika Morklithavong)
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — MTSU faculty and staff work hard to ensure students and alumni are exposed to multiple scholarship and grant opportunities, the latest being two MTSU graduate students and one alumna who have landed spots in the prestigious U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program this fall.
“We at the Honors College individualize our support to help assist MTSU students and alumni through the application process,” said Laura Clippard, fellowship advisor in the Honors College who guides applicants through the process with assistance from faculty. “Each of the three Fulbright winners had experience and education well suited to the program.”
The Fulbright program aims to strengthen cross-cultural relationships and understanding between the U.S. and partner countries through participants’ interactions in their host countries and immersion in their culture, according to the program website. Participants can complete research, work on creative projects, instruct as an assistant English teacher or pursue other studies during their time abroad.
Darrika Morklithavong, a Nashville native and graduate student, will complete her Fulbright program in the Southeast Asian country of Laos and calls it a full circle moment to teach English in her parents’ home country.
“I love the idea of being able to teach English to people who share a mutual language with me,” Morklithavong said. “I do not speak Lao perfectly; therefore, I feel I will be able to learn from the students as they will be able to learn from me. I’ve always wanted an opportunity to live and work in Laos, and the Fulbright was the perfect opportunity to tie my passions with my academic and work experience together.”
She had her first experience studying abroad as an MTSU undergraduate in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2014, funded by study abroad and Gilman International Scholarship Program scholarships.
Madeline Artibee, also from Nashville and a graduate student, will complete her program in Europe doing research in Croatia, where she had studied abroad before and filling the third-year residency requirement of the graduate Public History Program.
“Being from Nashville, I always knew about Middle Tennessee State University, but I had no idea that we had such a nationally recognized public history (graduate) program,” Artibee said. “My time in MTSU has been nothing short of excellent. The program at MTSU values experiential learning. I can use the expertise I have from on-the-job training and apply it in the classroom and vice versa.”
She added that the university was extremely helpful in preparing her Fulbright application.
“The application process is daunting and intimidating … people talk about how competitive the grant is,” Artibee said. “I felt very safe and secure with my application by the time I submitted it. The professors who read my application had thoughtful commentary and meaningful feedback, which not only helped my application but will also help my research.”
Alexis Marshall, MTSU alumna and morning radio producer for WPLN-FM in Nashville, learned about the Fulbright opportunity from one of her former MTSU journalism professors Leon Alligood and wanted to apply.
“Faculty in the Honors College helped me polish up my application,” she said. “It was a fairly rigorous application, but MTSU Honors College faculty took multiple passes through my essays to make them stand out.”
Originally from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Marshall will use her Fulbright to study German media in Berlin this fall and hopes her time in journalism abroad will help her bring a more global context to local stories upon her return.
“I think by studying how German media cover topics like economics, history and education, I’ll be able to apply those lessons to my work here in Middle Tennessee,” Marshall said.
To learn about all of the university’s opportunities for scholarships, grants, study abroad and research, visit the Honors College website https://www.mtsu.edu/honors/ufo or the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs website https://www.mtsu.edu/research/.