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Three UMN Morris Students Are Fulbright Finalists

Maroon background with gold text, "UMN Morris Fulbright U.S. Students 2018"
Jenna Ray
Publication date: 
May 14, 2018

Update: Alexa Barta '18 was named a finalist in a June award round

  • Brittany Grady '17, Autumn Carlson '18, and Alexa Barta '18 have earned Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards.
  • Grady, an English/German/Medieval Studies triple alumna, will spend a year in Germany.
  • Carlson, a Spanish/Latin American Area Studies alumna, will spend a year in Mexico.
  • Barta, a statistics and Spanish alumna, will spend a year in Brazil. 
  • Their successes speak to the power and value of a Morris education on the global stage.

Brittany Grady '17, Autumn Carlson '18, and Alexa Barta ’18 have earned Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards. Their successes speak to the power and value of a Morris education on the global stage.

The Morris Fulbright recipients received English Teaching Assistant (ETA) awards, which will place them in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to local English teachers. As Fulbright Scholars, they also will represent the United States as cultural ambassadors during their time overseas.

Brittany Grady '17

Brittany Grady

Grady, an English/German/Medieval Studies triple major, will spend a year in Germany as an English Teaching Assistant. She will have the opportunity to teach children in German schools not only about English as a language, but also about the nuances of and diversity within American culture.

Grady "love[s] anything that pushes the boundaries of [her] comfort zone and helps [her] grow," particularly new experiences. The Fulbright, then, is a natural fit for her: she'll have the chance to live in a new part of the country (she attended an American high school in Germany) and to learn more about the regional variations within German culture and school systems.

For her success in the application process, Grady credits her Morris instructors, particularly Professor of History and Coordinator for National and International Fellowships Jennifer Deane, as well as her major coursework and her experience as a writing center consultant.

Although she's not sure what life holds following her Fulbright year, she trusts the experience, combined with her Morris degree, will prepare her for whatever lies ahead.

"I'm still in the process of uncovering what my future looks like, but I think this experience will help me do that by giving me time and space to try my hand at teaching in an unfamiliar context," she says. "I'm fairly certain I'd like to attend grad school in the not-so-distant future, and I'm excited and grateful for the opportunities a Fulbright might afford me on that front."

Autumn Carlson '18

Autumn Carlson

Carlson, a Spanish and Latin American Area Studies major, will spend a year in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. She will be an English assistant at la Escuela de Lenguas San Cristóbal, Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas (the School of Languages, Autonomous University of Chiapas in San Cristóbal). She also plans to work on a bilingual conversation club, much like Morris's own Jane Addams Project.

Carlson's "interest in the Spanish language and culture run[s] deep," which is what drew her to the Fulbright program and back to Mexico. An English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor, she spent part of her junior year studying in Guanajuato in hopes of returning better equipped to serve her ESL students. This opportunity, she says, is an extension of that.

"The Fulbright ETA mixes all of my interests together nicely," says Carlson. "I would get the opportunity to continue to study a language I love and to teach in a different environment."

Carlson says the "solid education" she received at Morris prepared her to apply for Fulbright. While she isn't entirely sure what she'll do following her Fulbright year, she wants to continue working with greater Minnesota's Latino and immigrant communities. She's confident this experience will keep her moving in the right direction.

"Having the cultural, linguistic, and teaching experience that the Fulbright ETA offers would be invaluable in my future plans to continue working with the Latino population in Minnesota."

Alexa Barta ’18

Alexa Barta ’18

A statistics and Spanish alumna, Barta will spend nine months teaching English in Brazil, beginning February 2019. Having spent four years at Morris working with the region's Latino community as a teacher in the Community English as a Second Language program, Barta is eager to learn more about the culture of her students and their experiences during her Fulbright year.

"I wanted to go outside of my comfort zone and put my language and intercultural competence skills to good use," Barta says, "To me, the opportunity to teach English in a country where I have never been, speaking a language that I am unfamiliar with, is the perfect fulfillment of that."

For her success in the application process, Barta credits the support and guidance of Professor of History and Coordinator for National and International Fellowships Jennifer Deane and other Morris faculty members as well as coursework in her major.

"Students who choose UMN Morris bring so many combined talents with them—especially strong academic skills, passion for civic engagement, and curiosity about the world—that they are intrinsically excellent candidates for such fellowship programs and opportunities," says Deane, "Their successes not only put Morris on the Fulbright Top-Producing Institutions list this year, but we are proud to be the only public, low-tuition institution among the 48 liberal arts colleges named across the country."

"I felt like I had a strong support network around me," adds Barta.

With this experience and her Morris degree, Barta next will pursue a career in immigration data analysis, which will allow her to combine her skills in data analysis and intercultural competence.

"My experience living and working in Brazil will allow me to experience another culture outside of my own, and will continue to broaden my global perspective and strengthen my intercultural competence skills."

Morris on a Global Stage

Five Morris students submitted Fulbright applications this year, supported by advising from faculty and staff through the Academic Center for Enrichment; four were semifinalists, and three were finalists. This success rate builds on last year's awards, which earned the campus Top Fulbright producer status earlier this spring.

"As one of the country's top public liberal arts colleges, Morris provides talented students access to life-changing educational opportunities," said Chancellor Michelle Behr. "Our exceptional students are prepared to live as engaged global citizens, and we are excited for their upcoming Fulbright experiences."

About Fulbright

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest United States exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. Learn more at

Pictured above: Brittany Grady ’17 and Autumn Carlson ’18, Fulbright U.S. Student recipients