May 12, 2023

Fulbright Winners Foster Connection Worldwide

As recipients of prestigious Fulbright awards, four members of the L&C community will work abroad as teachers and researchers next year: Grace Bird BA ’23 (Bulgaria), Caroline Gray BA ’17 (Kenya), Michael Mulrennan BA ’22 (Andorra), and Lucia Sheridan BA ’23 (Germany).

Four Lewis & Clark alumni— two who just graduated in May—will spend the next year overseas after receiving prestigious Fulbright awards. The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, fosters mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges. Lewis & Clark is one of the top producers of Fulbright award winners in the country, demonstrating a sustained commitment to international education and engagement.

Grace Bird BA ’23

Grace Bird outside in the snow Majors: Biology and International Affairs (double)
Minor: Chinese
Hometown: Brecksville, Ohio
Fulbright Award: Teaching in Bulgaria

Describe your Fulbright award.

I will be teaching English to high school students in Bulgaria during the 2023–24 academic year.

Why do you want to teach abroad?

I previously lived in Sofia, Bulgaria, for a year before coming to study at Lewis & Clark. I really enjoyed my time there, and I’m excited to return to see some of my old friends and host family members. I have gotten a bit of teaching experience by being a TA at Lewis & Clark. Also, last summer, I helped run a STEM/coding camp for young students in Greece. I feel that teaching is an important and fulfilling job. I’m excited about getting more experience to see whether it’s something I would like to pursue as a long-term career.

Did you participate in an L&C overseas study program?

Because of COVID shutdowns and travel restrictions starting at the end of my first year, I did not end up participating in an overseas study program through L&C. However, I was able to intern abroad this past summer at a science communications nonprofit on an Overseas Professional and Intercultural Training Grant from the U.S. Embassy in Greece. I had a great time there learning about Greek culture and history as well as building skills in scientific communication.

What are your future plans?

I am interested in graduate school and pursuing research in ecology. I think my Fulbright experience will be a great way to see whether I would like to pursue a career with a focus on teaching or instead to continue on a more research-centered path.

Caroline Gray BA ’17

Caroline Gray smiling outside Major: International Affairs
Minor: Political Economy
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Fulbright Award: Research in Kenya

What will you be researching?

For the 2023–24 academic year, I’ll be living in Nairobi studying U.S.-Kenya trade relations and how U.S. competition is playing out in East Africa.

How did you become interested in this topic?

China’s rise on the global stage has come to dominate the foreign discourse here in the United States. Washington’s hyperfixation on China’s desire for global hegemony has turned countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa into pawns in a battle for influence between the United States and China. Kenya is an interesting example of a country that is balancing interest and investments from both players. China has for years been investing in major infrastructure projects in Kenya. Now, the U.S. is attempting to negotiate a free trade agreement with Kenya, East Africa’s largest and most important economy. What does great power competition actually look like in a country on the brink of major economic growth, like Kenya? Do these investments and deals benefit or hurt everyday Kenyans? These are the kinds of questions I’m excited to explore this coming year.

Did you participate in an L&C overseas study program?

Studying abroad in India my junior year with the late Professor Sunil Kumar—and then returning after graduation to colead the same program—was the single most influential experience during my time at L&C. It’s hard to describe how much that semester impacted me—it gave me the confidence to travel and live anywhere, ask hard questions, and challenge conventional assumptions about the world.

What are your future plans?

After working at foreign policy think tanks over the past six years, I’m so excited to move overseas and learn about a new part of the world. I hope this experience will inform my future grad school plans and what I want to study!

Michael Mulrennan BA ’22

Michael Mulrennan posing in front of holiday decorations Majors: English and Hispanic Studies (double)
Fulbright Award: Teaching in Andorra

Describe your Fulbright award.

I will be an English teaching assistant in Andorra, which is a microstate nestled between Spain and France. I will be teaching English at a vocational school to students between the ages of 16 and 19. I’ll be there for a total of 10 months, from September 2023 through June 2024.

Why do you want to teach abroad?

I knew I wanted to be a teacher while I was in high school, but it wasn’t until I got to Lewis & Clark that I was able to begin working toward that goal in earnest. By participating in the Teaching Excellence Program and College Outdoors, I saw firsthand the impact that effective teaching can have on people of all ages. I have spent close to a year working or volunteering as an English teaching assistant and wanted to continue traveling and immersing myself in different cultures. I hope to serve as a lively presence in class that makes learning English fun for my students.

Did you participate in an L&C overseas study program?

I participated in the now discontinued study abroad program in Alicante, Spain, during the spring of 2020 until COVID sent us all packing. The program completely changed my outlook on the career I wanted to have and the relationships/connections I could make with people. I discovered a passion for teaching English as a second or foreign language and lived with a host family who I remain very close with to this day. My experience abroad inspired me to live in Spain after graduating and to seek out ways to continue living in Europe to explore, learn, teach, and expand my worldview.

What are your future plans?

After finishing my time in Andorra, I will complete an MEd in English as a second language as well as Spanish as a world language while receiving my teaching license at the University of Minnesota. I plan on working in the public school system in Minneapolis as either an ESL or Spanish teacher. I hope this Fulbright experience continues to help me develop my Spanish and hone my skills as an English teacher. Having already worked with little kids, this next year will give me another pedagogical perspective that will help me better understand how to work with students of different ages.

Lucia Sheridan BA ’23

Lucia Sheridan smiles outside Majors: German Studies and Psychology (double)
Minor: Art and Art History
Hometown: Saugatuck, Michigan
Fulbright Award: Teaching in Germany

Describe your Fulbright award.

I have been selected as an English teaching assistant (ETA). I’ll be teaching in a German school alongside a faculty mentor. Starting in September, I will be in Hamburg, Germany, for the entirety of the Hamburg school year.

Why do you want to teach abroad?

I applied to gain experience working with children in the context of language. I hope to get my master’s degree in speech and language pathology, with the ambition of being a speech therapist for multilingual children.

Did you participate in an L&C overseas study program?

I did! I went on the yearlong Munich program. I could not recommend that program enough, even if German studies isn’t your major. It was very foundational in my interest for the Fulbright ETA program, and it encouraged my love for language learning.

What are your future plans?

I’m hoping that, with the Fulbright experience, I’ll be confident in my choice to pursue grad school. I’m also hoping to learn of other opportunities to work and live abroad before I begin my master’s program!

Anything else you want to add?

I am incredibly grateful to the professors at Lewis & Clark who supported me in my application for this award. I’d especially like to acknowledge and thank Therese Augst, associate professor of German studies, who not only encouraged me to apply for a Fulbright but also has been the most incredible mentor, professor, and friend throughout my four years at L&C.

Overseas and Off-Campus Programs