Two students representing College of Humanities and Fine Arts will study, work abroad

MURRAY, Ky. — Two Murray State University students in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts have won prestigious Fulbright Scholarships. 

Eriko Whittaker, a senior art major from Zama, Japan, is the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship to complete research and create art in Berlin, Germany. Lauran Young, a senior TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) major, is the recipient of a teaching fellowship to Spain.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. It awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals. Approximately 370,000 “Fulbrighters” have participated in the program since its inception in 1946.

Two Murray State University students in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts have won prestigious Fulbright Scholarships. Pictured is senior art major Eriko Whittaker from Zama, Japan, who received a fellowship to complete research and create art in Berlin, Germany.

“To be frank, it doesn’t feel real yet,” said Whittaker, who was born and raised in Japan while her father was stationed in the military there, before moving back to the United States her sophomore year of high school. “This research grant is something that I’ve been pursuing and worked very hard on since last fall, and it feels surreal to actually be accepted. I am very, very happy.”

Whittaker said she is excited to live and teach in another country as part of the program.

 “I couldn’t have done this without the amazing help of my professors and other Murray State faculty,” Whittaker said. “I am also very proud to be part of the art department, because my education there gave me all the skills and tools necessary for me to be prepared for the Fulbright program and future adventures.”

“Eriko has been a dedicated researcher and artist throughout her career at Murray State,” said Dr. Antje Gamble, assistant professor of art history and one of Whittaker’s faculty mentors. “After her study abroad experience in Berlin, Germany, Eriko’s paintings and scholarship made exciting developments. I was very happy to work with her on preparing her Fulbright application last summer. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Eriko, and her place as a Fulbright Scholar is well deserved.“

Young, who grew up in Catlettsburg, Kentucky, says she was drawn to the Fulbright program because it combines two of her passions: education and multiculturalism. The scholarship is built on the foundation of fostering deep cultural awareness and mutual respect through learning to create a more understanding and stronger community. 

“It feels incredible to have been granted this once in a lifetime opportunity,” Young said. “Being selected for the Fulbright is a huge affirmation for me and everything that I have studied and worked towards in the past four years. I wouldn’t have made it this far without the support and encouragement from my professors at Murray State. The English department and the TESOL program developed my passion for the English language and education deeper than I ever thought possible. The Department of Global Languages and Theatre Arts has been phenomenal too, furthering my appreciation and love for the Spanish language as well as interest in other cultures.” 

Lauran Young, a senior TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) major, is the recipient of a Fulbright teaching fellowship to Spain.

“Lauran Young is an exceptionally bright and caring young woman,” said Dr. Latricia Trites, professor of TESOL in the Department of English and Philosophy. “Her dedication to teaching and always striving to be her best are just two reasons that she is deserving of this award. She will make an excellent teacher in Spain, and this experience will shape her teaching for the rest of her life. I am so proud to have had the opportunity to watch Lauran grow as a teacher and wish her all the best in the future.”

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