Hannah Rayhill ’18 and Gianluca Avanzato ’18 awarded Fulbright Scholarships

Alex Appel

“I know that I want to positively impact every environment I find myself in… this opportunity is most certainly going to set me forth on a path to do that in the best way possible,” Fulbright recipient Hannah Rayhill ’18, said.

Rayhill, along with Gianluca Avanzato ’18, from September 2018 to June 2019, will study abroad in Athens, Greece and Berlin, Germany, respectively.

The two seniors are recipients of the English Teaching Assistant Fulbright scholarship (ETA).

“I came back from my study abroad term in India and I knew that I wanted to help people and travel the world and positively impact every environment I could find myself in,” Rayhill said.

As a part of the ETA program, Rayhill and Avanzato will assist local teachers in teaching English.

According to Rayhill, she had accepted a job in insurance before receiving her Fulbright grant.

She feels that this program is an opportunity to expand her horizons beyond what she had previously seen as possible. Rayhill will graduate with an interdisciplinary major in English and Anthropology with a minor in Environmental Science in June.

“I had studied in Greece for two summers researching sea turtles, so I knew that I loved the country… The first place I had ever gone abroad by myself and I read the candidate profile while I was at work study and I got chills. It was as if someone had followed me around for a month and wrote a profile for so I knew that I absolutely had to apply to this one even if there is a very low chance that I’ll get in,” Rayhill said.

In order to be granted their scholarships, both Rayhill and Avanzato had to go through a highly competitive application process that lasted from September to March.

“I always wanted to go back to Germany and Fulbright just seemed like a really good option. I also like teaching and I like language, all those reasons made it appealing,” Avanzato said.

Avanzato is a Political Science major with minors in German and Classical Studies. After his year in Berlin, he plans to go to graduate school and eventually pursue a PhD, possibly in Composition and Rhetoric. He hopes to become a college professor.

“The wonderful thing about this is that it gives me a year to read and write and be in a different country and meet different people.

It just opens up so many more possibilities than if I didn’t get it. I don’t feel locked into place,” Avanzato said. “The US sends students off to different parts of the world to be English teaching assistants or researchers and the idea is that they’re trying to promote good will between nations,” Avanzato said.

The Fulbright Scholarship is a competitive, merit-based scholarship program that awards grants for international exchange.

The program was proposed to Congress in 1945 by Senator J. William Fulbright and was signed into law the next year by President Harry S. Truman.

Since then, the program has expanded and now involves programs in over 160 countries, over 1,900 scholarships are offered and 8,000 grants are given annually.

“Now that I finally have it is literally unreal. It’s not going to be real until I am in Athens and then I will be literally unable to speak… That is an incredible, incredible thing and I cannot believe that I have been so blessed as to have received it,” Rayhill said.