Five Clemson students and alums awarded prestigious Fulbright scholarships

June 5, 2024

Three Clemson students and two alums are preparing to travel to the Czech Republic, Germany, Philippines, Serbia and Scotland after being awarded Fulbright U.S. Student grants, a highly competitive scholarship program that facilitates cultural exchange, learning, research and service opportunities between American students and communities across the globe.

“For three years in a row, five Clemson students have been awarded Fulbright scholarships. I’m proud of Christian, Audie, Calvin, Lexi and Shreya for their achievements and their perseverance during the application process. This year’s results are a significant accomplishment for these students and for the University — and demonstrate that Clemson is building a thriving Fulbright culture on campus.” – Robyn Curtis, Director of the Office of Major Fellowships

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and its 140 participating countries. Student recipients, which include recent college graduates, graduate students and early career professionals from all academic backgrounds, use their awards to pursue graduate study, conduct research, or teach English abroad.

During the application process, students decide which country they would like to apply to and what type of grant they want to pursue.

Of Clemson’s five recipients, two were awarded English teaching assistantships, two will conduct research and one is enrolling in a graduate degree program.

Student Scholars

Christian Blackburn, a senior Wildlife and Fisheries Biology major and management minor from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, was awarded an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in the Czech Republic. A National Scholar and Honors student, Blackburn served as an instructor in the South Carolina Teacher Cadet program, a statistics tutor at Clemson through the University’s Academic Success Center, a conversation partner for ESL students, and spent many summer and winter breaks teaching teenagers in the U.S. Scouting program. As an ETA in the Czech Republic, he hopes to inspire personal growth and self-discovery in his students through the learning process. While he’s there, he hopes to immerse himself in the Czech culture, particularly its nature, food, outdoor recreation and music, specifically its bluegrass movement.

Following his ETA experience, Blackburn plans to pursue a master’s in project management before working in sustainable city planning, specifically focusing on designing urban green spaces.

Audie Cherry, an agriculture Ph.D. student from Clay, Kentucky, was selected for a research award in the Philippines. As a Filipino-American, the award provides Cherry and his family, who will be traveling with him, an opportunity to return to his roots. Since 2012, Cherry has collaborated with several churches and schools on visits to the Philippines to deliver agricultural education and perform service in the local community. He has been working in and studying agriculture in higher education since 2010 and hopes to continue doing so by addressing knowledge gaps in agricultural education with his Fulbright Scholarship.

Cherry plans to teach agricultural courses at Cebu Technological University-Barili during his two semesters, while also focusing on agricultural education and youth development through research and extension. He will also be collaborating with local farmers to improve sustainable agricultural practices.

Calvin Paulsen, a biomedical engineering major from Summerville, South Carolina, received a research award in Germany that will allow him to work at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine. He has already been working online with a researcher at the institute conducting stem cell research, with their project having the potential to uncover new targeted therapeutics for epithelial-derived cancer and aging. Paulsen established this connection while working as an undergraduate research trainee with a mechanobiology researcher on a National Science Foundation funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Washington University in St. Louis last summer. In addition to his research, Paulsen has volunteered with organizations focused on residence life engagement, recycling and sustainability, while also working as an academic tutor.

After his Fulbright experience, Paulsen plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, with a goal of someday working at a national laboratory, where he can shape health policy and increase international research collaboration.

Alumni Scholars

Alexandra (Lexie) Colwell (’23) from Elgin, South Carolina, was a political science major with Russian area studies and legal studies minors at Clemson. The summer before her graduation, Colwell spent six weeks studying abroad in the Balkans, with much of that time spent in Serbia. The experience left a deep impact and inspired an interest in the diplomatic connection between Serbia and the U.S. Colwell went on to work as a teaching assistant for a political science class during her senior year, lecturing on assigned readings, facilitating class discussions, and tutoring students in the class. She plans to apply what she learned in that role to her ETA in Serbia where ETAs work with university-level students. Outside of the classroom, Colwell plans to use her time in Serbia to research the evolution of American-Serbian relations over the past 30 years.

After she completes the Fulbright program, Colwell will pursue a graduate degree in international relations, with a goal of working in the U.S. Foreign Service as a diplomat.

Shreya Tellur (’23) from Simpsonville, South Carolina, was an Honors student and psychology major at Clemson. Her Fulbright University of Stirling Award will help cover cost of living expenses associated with graduate study in Health Psychology from the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom. While she’s there, Tellur hopes to volunteer at the Stirling Community Hospital to explore behavioral, physical and mental well-being changes in women during different stages of pregnancy, in order to help improve childbirth health care outcomes. She also plans to volunteer with the area’s TLC Befriending Service Project, which provides befriending services to people in the community. In her spare time, she also hopes to experience and learn to Ceilidh, a blend of dancing and storytelling, while also sharing her background in Bharatanatyam, a form of Indian classical dance.

After she completes her M.Sc., Tellur plans to go to medical school to become an M.D. with a focus in obstetrics and gynecology. She hopes to apply her psychology and medical knowledge to provide practical education programs that consider health’s psychological and emotional aspects.


As alternates, these students may still receive awards before the start of the grant period next academic year.

Hayley Levin from Westin, Massachusetts, majored in political science at Clemson, graduating in 2023. She earned alternate status for a Fulbright MA Degree award in Israel. Levin plans to pursue a career as a political officer for the U.S. Department of State with a focus on the Middle East, after taking the Foreign Service Exam.

Kaleigh Neely from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, graduated from Clemson with a bioengineering degree in 2019 and has since earned a master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics in 2022 through Eastern Michigan University. Neely earned alternate status for a Master of Science in Public Health award in Ireland, one of the most competitive awards in the Fulbright competition. She plans to transition from her current work in clinical care to influencing policies related to prosthetic care in the U.S. and abroad.

Marina Robichau from Landrum, South Carolina, is graduating this spring with a degree in Elementary Education. She earned alternate status for an English Teaching Assistant award in Georgia. Robichau plans to work in a multilingual school or internationally as a teacher for underprivileged students before pursuing a master’s degree.


The National Screening Committee recommended seven additional semifinalists to their selected countries for final selection. They are Sydney Bertram (Health Sciences, ’21), Marissa Coll (Language and International Health, ’24), Helena Harte (Political Science and History, ‘24), Caroline Morgan (Political Science, ‘23), Krishna Patel (Biochemistry, ‘23), Elizabeth “Liza” Stone (Biological Sciences, ‘24), and Riley Stotzky (Political Science and Economics, ’24).

About the Fulbright U.S. Student Program Scholarship

Fulbright is a U.S. Department of State Program funded by the U.S. Government. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which has operated in over 160 countries nationwide.

Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided over 400,000 talented and accomplished student, scholars, teachers, artists and professionals of all backgrounds with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research abroad. Notable Fulbrighters include 62 Nobel Laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize winners, 80 MacArthur Fellows, 41 heads of state or government, and thousands of leaders across the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Students interested in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program or other nationally competitive programs should contact the Office of Major Fellowships at 864-656-9704 or [email protected].