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Students/Faculty News Kevin Storr February 18, 2021

Allyson Ferguson, a senior in our B.S. in Biomedical Sciences program and a member of UAB Honors College, has been named a semifinalist in this year’s Fulbright U.S. Student Program competition. She is one of only nine students at UAB to advance to the semifinals.

“This is an exceptional group of students,” said Michelle Cook, Ph.D., interim director of UAB’s National and International Fellowships and Scholarships. “Being named a Fulbright semifinalist is a great achievement. We are looking forward to more good news as finalists are announced later this spring.”

Ferguson is a semifinalist for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship award. If selected, she will collaborate with the education of teenagers in the multilingual (Catalan - Spanish - French) Andorran school system.

Allyson Ferguson: In Her Own Words

"I actually studied abroad for the fall semester of sophomore year in Valencia, Spain. It was over those 5 months that my love for language learning and passion for exploring other cultures really took root and grew. While abroad, I had the chance to work as a tutor for elementary and middle school students at an afterschool program for refugee and low-income families.

I also had the chance to shadow doctors and see the innerworkings of healthcare outside of the U.S. I fell in love with the people and learned how to use our differences to cultivate genuine relationships and foster change. I boarded my flight home at the end of that semester hopeful my path would one day lead me back across the world.

Fast forward to senior year and here I am, a semi-finalist for a Fulbright award with the opportunity to do it all again! It's a very humbling position to be in and I am so grateful for every advisor and faculty member that has poured into me over the last four years to get me to this place.

If I receive the award, I will spend the next academic year (Aug-June) as an English Teaching Assistant in the school systems of Andorra. Andorra is a tiny country situated in the Pyrenees Mountains, between Spain and France. A Fulbright experience here will allow me to continue developing fluency in the Spanish language while exposing me to new ones like Catalan and French.

An ETA in Andorra provides the perfect chance for me to expand my knowledge of cultures and peoples and improve my communication skills through serving and teaching others. I hope to return to the U.S. and pursue medical school with a greater understanding of the compassion and empathy needed to build a stronger patient rapport."

The Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the United States government, provides grants to study, teach and conduct research in more than 160 countries. Fulbright recipients are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement and a record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.

Students selected as finalists will work, live with and learn from the people in their host countries to promote mutual understanding through academic exchange and community engagement.


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