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Fellow traveling in Benin

Travel is an essential component of the Foundation Fellowship. Fellows enjoy unique, immersive learning opportunities all over the world through individual travel grants, spring break group travel-study, and a study abroad Maymester after the first undergraduate year.

Morgann Lyles – BÉNIN, England, Germany, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Spain 

Some undergraduates spend a summer volunteering in a crowded, supply-starved hospital in a developing country and walk away saying that their outlook on healthcare has been changed. Others take insightful language classes with a native speaker while living with a host family and leave saying that their perspective on foreign language education has been revolutionized. Still others are exposed to religious practices, places of worship, or breathtaking glimpses of natural beauty and come away saying that their appreciation for spiritual diversity has been expanded. Any one of these life-altering experiences would make an undergraduate career worthwhile, but incredibly, through the Foundation Fellowship, I have been fortunate enough to have all of these experiences – and many more – before my 22nd birthday.

The theme of my travels, both domestic and international, has been personal discovery. When I began at UGA, I had a double major in French and microbiology and planned to become a physician and public health worker in Francophone West Africa. I finished my career with degrees in French and African American Studies with plans to teach English in France for one year as a Fulbright Scholar before returning to the States to study foreign language education (applied linguistics and pedagogy) at Stanford University. What confirmed the decision for me was an independent trip to Abomey, Bénin, where I realized that I was much more interested in studying French and Francophone culture, as well as finding out more about my African heritage, than learning anything further about the diseases that I encountered in the hospital each day and how to treat them scientifically. I don’t know how else I would have had this epiphany without the Fellowship’s special gift to students of crafting their own academic adventures.

two Fellows sitting in jain temple in india

As I moved beyond the boundaries of Myers Hall, Moore College, and the University of Georgia, I took with me the seeker’s spirit I gained through four years as a Foundation Fellow. I sought innovative ways to make the world my classroom. I sought to keep an open mind about what I was supposed to ‘be’ when I grew up. Most of all, I sought to slow down my energetic pace of life long enough to listen to the interesting voices around me – those of children speaking a mixture of Fon and French as we played Frisbee and American football in Bénin, that of my Guatemalan instructor Mario congratulating me on reading a paragraph in El Alquimista when I was only a beginner in Spanish a few weeks earlier, and those of the camel drivers in Morocco talking calmly to their animal comrades in a language I did not understand as we prepared to ride into the sunset in the chilly Sahara Desert.

Christina Faust  – antarctica, australia, borneo, china, ecuador, egypt, greece, new zealand, spain

2019 Goldwater ScholarsI was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens, Georgia and had lived in the same house my whole life. I saw college as an opportunity for new experiences, and I thought that meant I needed to move out of Athens, out of Georgia. Ironically, the best way to get away from Athens (although I love it), was to go to school there. I knew I could do a semester abroad or volunteer abroad during the summers at another university, but the breadth and depth of experiences that every Fellow had was really alluring for me. I hadn’t traveled outside of North America before college, but through the Fellowship I have traveled, volunteered, researched, and interned in thirteen different countries on seven continents. And I wasn’t trying to ‘collect them all.’ I was able to learn so much about myself and the variety of conservation efforts that exist around the globe. Traveling with professors and going out solo was instrumental in shaping what I want to pursue in life.

These international experiences and independent research opportunities are no doubt the reason I have been offered amazing opportunities outside of the Foundation Fellowship. I’m starting a PhD program at Princeton this fall with the founder of wildlife disease ecology. He rarely takes students but was excited about my experiences through the Fellowship. I’ll be working on malaria in Borneo. This focus stemmed from a spring break trip with the Fellows and Dr. Pete Brosius to Borneo to look at indigenous land rights. In my (biased) opinion, UGA is the best college experience in the U.S. and has afforded me incredible opportunities post graduation.

Foundation Fellow in Antarctica


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