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Students Named Fulbright Scholars

Two recent alumni from Oklahoma City University were named Fulbright Scholars for the 2012-13 academic year.

The two recipients are DeEtta Cravens, an Honors student who graduated summa cum laude with a triple major in political science, philosophy and Spanish; and Shamari Reid, who graduated cum laude with a double major in Spanish and education. Both were Clara Luper Scholars at OCU who graduated in May.

Cravens earned a Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarship to teach English in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She also hopes to establish a Girl Scout troop within a secondary school, as well as research the rehabilitation of repatriated Thai human trafficking victims at one of Thailand’s 99 state-sponsored shelters.

Cravens’ interest in foreign travel began when she was 12 and, as a member of the U.S. Youth Soccer team, traveled to Australia and New Zealand to play in an international soccer tournament, the Kanga Cup II. Later, she twice represented her junior high school as an exchange student to its sister school in Costa Rica. Upon graduating high school, she represented the U.S. as a Girl Scout Ambassador to Peru and Bolivia.

Cravens continued to pursue educational opportunities abroad as a student at Oklahoma City University. She studied Spanish and international relations at a university in Chile and received the prestigious David L. Boren Scholarship through the National Security Education Program to study Portuguese for eight months in Brazil.

In addition to her travels abroad and her language acquisition, she spent her college summers in Washington, D.C., where she studied at Howard University as a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs scholar and at John Hopkins University through the Washington Center Program, and interned for Black Women United for Action and Unified Industries, Inc. After completing her 13-month grant in Thailand, Cravens plans to complete master’s degrees in international public policy and security studies before joining the foreign services as a public diplomacy officer.

 “I feel very privileged to have had such incredible opportunities to travel the world and gain first-hand knowledge of, and exposure to, foreign cultures, languages and people,” Cravens said. “Many of my life’s greatest moments have occurred abroad, and I appreciate how much I have grown intellectually, culturally and spiritually as a result of my travels.”

Reid earned a Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarship to teach English in Uruguay. He will also enroll in graduate courses at a university in Uruguay and plans to develop a mentoring program in which local high school and college students mentor younger students.

Reid, who leaves for Uruguay early next year, will spend the coming fall semester teaching Spanish at Mount Saint Mary’s High School in Oklahoma City.

When I go to Uruguay I plan to further enhance my skills in Spanish, but what I’m most excited about is learning other methods of teaching and strengthening my pedagogy,” Reid said.  “This will make me a more versatile teacher and allow me to offer a style of teaching not many have seen in the U.S.”

An Oklahoma native who graduated from Northeast Academy for Health Sciences and Engineering, Reid lived in Germany for two years as a preteen but did not consider studying abroad until his junior year at Oklahoma City University. He received a Benjamin Gilman scholarship from the U.S. State Department to spend three months during the summer of 2011 in Argentina studying Spanish at La Universidad del Centro Educativo Latinoamericano in Rosario. He also participated in volunteer work at an orphanage in Buenos Aires.

“When I chose to become an educator, I accepted one the most important responsibilities, and that is helping create a bridge to the future I’ll never see. With my students I hope to create an environment within the classroom that encourages acceptance of others and a sense of self-worth, while promoting the importance of lifelong learning. It is because of my experience abroad in Argentina that I know what it truly means to accept others and be self-aware and can now share this knowledge with my students. I can only imagine what my classroom will be like after I've spent another eight months in South America.”

The two OCU alumni are among 1,700 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2012-2013 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

As the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, the Fulbright Program strives to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries.

The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations from around the world also provide direct and indirect support.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has provided opportunities for approximately 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. 

Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in government, science, the arts, business, philanthropy, education, and athletics. Forty Fulbright alumni from 11 countries have been awarded the Nobel Prize, and 75 alumni have received Pulitzer Prizes. Prominent Fulbright alumni include Muhammad Yunus, managing director and founder of Grameen Bank and a 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient; John Atta Mills, president of Ghana; Lee Evans, Olympic gold medalist; Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University; Riccardo Giacconi, physicist and 2002 Nobel Laureate; Amar Gopal Bose, chairman and founder of the Bose Corporation; Renee Fleming, soprano; Gish Jen, writer; and Daniel Libeskind, architect.