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The Mount Goes Three for Three With Fulbright ETA Awards

Communications Staff

Mount St. Mary’s University student Brigid Flay, C’17, was recently selected as a finalist for a 2017-18 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program Award to Kazakhstan through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

fulbright-eta-finalists.jpgEarlier this year Mount St. Mary’s students Samantha Solis, C’16, and Alyse Spiehler, C’17, were also named Fulbright ETA finalists to Argentina and Mexico, respectively. The addition of Flay means the Mount’s only three applicants have all received the award. Last year only one institution in the nation had a perfect 100 percent success rate with at least three applicants.

“We are incredibly proud of Brigid, Samantha and Alyse’s accomplishments and know they will be great ambassadors for the Mount abroad,” says Mount St. Mary’s University Interim President Timothy Trainor, Ph.D.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is designed to provide research, study and teaching opportunities through grants in over 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students.

Flay, Solis and Spiehler all applied for English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Programs through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The ETA programs enable award winners to join local English teachers in their respective countries to provide assistance through teaching the English language as well as communicating and representing American culture.

Jamie A. Gianoutsos, Ph.D., competitive fellowships director and assistant professor of history at Mount St. Mary’s, notes that this is not the first time the Mount has had a student attain this honor. John-Paul Heil, C'15, was a finalist for the Fulbright ETA to Italy in 2015, and although he won the award, he declined in order to pursue his doctorate in history at the University of Chicago.

The Competitive Fellowships Committee, comprised of Gianoutsos, Thane Naberhaus, Ph.D., and Garth Patterson, Ph.D., oversaw these applications and conducted the Fulbright on-campus interviews.

Recently the Mount has also learned that students Elizabeth Boyle, C’19, and Sydney Johnson, C’19, have been selected for Fulbright Summer Institute programs.

For more information on the Fulbright U.S. Student Program please visit

Mount St. Mary's Fulbright ETA Award Finalists

brigid-flay.jpgBrigid Flay

Applied for the Fulbright ETA Award to Kazakhstan

Brigid Flay, C’17, is an economics and philosophy double major, with a minor in Conflict, Peace and Social Justice.

Flay applied for the Fulbright ETA Award to Kazakhstan because of her passion for Central Asia and desire to learn the Russian language.

Ultimately, she plans to pursue a doctorate in international relations, focusing on Central Asia and the former Soviet region, with a goal of working in the foreign service, continuing to promote global peace and cooperation.

“Brigid’s motivation to apply for the Fulbright ETA to Kazakhstan stemmed both from a deep intellectual interest in the country’s history and its current politics, as well as a genuine desire to serve others and promote international cooperation,” said Gianoutsos. “Brigid’s values aligned perfectly with the goals and mission of the Fulbright program.”

“I’m beyond thrilled to have been selected as a Fulbright finalist to Kazakhstan,” says Flay. “It’s a great opportunity to represent the United States abroad, and I’m honored for the Fulbright to be an option for me. This couldn’t have been possible without the hard work of Drs. Gianoutsos, Naberhaus, and Patterson; I’m so grateful for their assistance throughout this process, and consider myself lucky to have been able to work with such a dedicated fellowship committee.”

samantha-solis.jpgSamantha Solis

Applied for the Fulbright ETA Award to Argentina

Samantha Solis, C’16, recently completed her undergraduate coursework as of December and was an English and Spanish double major, with a minor in creative writing.

Solis applied for the Fulbright ETA Award to Argentina due to a love for Latin American literature found early in her college career, followed by a love of teaching when she began tutoring Spanish.

She eventually hopes to pursue a doctorate in English literature, focusing on twentieth and twenty-first century literature by Latinx writers.

“Winning such a prestigious, nationally-competitive award reflects very well on Samantha’s accomplishments as a student and as a writer. Samantha wrote a compelling application for the Fulbright, describing her upbringing in a bilingual household and her search to understand her Latinx identity,” said Gianoutsos. “Samantha embodies the academic culture of Mount Saint Mary’s University, and she will represent us well in years to come.”

“I was very excited and honored to become a finalist, and I was even more excited to find out that my friend and classmate Alyse Spiehler also became one in Mexico,” says Solis. “The Mount Fellowships Committee was really supportive and helpful throughout the whole application process, which definitely shows in that two out of three (so far) of the Mount students who applied for the Fulbright have become finalists.”

alyse-spiehlier.jpgAlyse Spiehler

Applied for the Fulbright ETA Award to Mexico

Alyse Spiehler, C’17, is a philosophy and English double major.

In the future, she is considering various graduate programs in philosophy so that she can enrich her understanding of neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics. She is also interested in pursuing work in nonprofit organizations and in local school systems.

“Alyse’s success in the Fulbright application reflects not only her accomplishments and intellectual talents – which are many – but also her deep love of Mexico and its cultures and customs,” said Gianoutsos. “Alyse spent five years of her childhood in Mexico, and she counts those years as the most significant for her own formation. She applied for the Fulbright ETA to Mexico because she desired to return to the country and to serve its communities and people.”

“Although I am an American by birth, the most formative years of my childhood were spent in General Cepeda, Mexico,” says Spiehler. “Since then, I have loved Mexico’s cultures and customs, and desired to return to the country both for my own formation and to serve the Mexican people. This award represents the combined dedication of so many members of the Mount community, whose support was instrumental in bringing it about. I am so thankful for them and for this opportunity, and am looking forward to see where it leads.”


Special thanks to the Mount St. Mary's University faculty and staff members who worked to advise individual applicants, review campus applications, and conduct preliminary review and campus interviews:
Mike Barry, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Business, Accounting and Economics
Chianti Blackmon
Former Director of the Center for Student Diversity
Christine Blackshaw Ph.D.
Associate Professor Foreign Languages and Literatures
Thomas Bligh, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English
Richard Buck, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Patrice Flynn, Ph.D.
Professor of Business and Economics
Jessy Jordan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
David Rehm, Ph.D.
University Professor of Philosophy
Diana Rodriguez-Lozano, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Sarah Scott, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English
Elaini Tsoukatos Ph.D.
Associate Professor Foreign Languages and Literatures

Communications Staff