True Fulbright: Learning through cultural exchange abroad

It’s not uncommon for True Blue students to want to travel. Travel is part of welcoming the responsibility of global citizenship and leadership in a changing world. It is rare, however, for students to get to travel to destinations of their own selection as a U.S. Student Fulbright, but that just might be the case for Muriel Unseth.

Unseth, a University of Tulsa senior, has been named a semi-finalist for the Fulbright Program, which means that the Fulbright panel in New York has recommended her to the overseas Fulbright Commission for the destination country review.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. 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 160 countries worldwide.

As an English and accounting double major, being a Fulbright recipient might be a matter of family business for Unseth.

Her mother received a Fulbright to travel to Germany when she was Unseth’s age, and she says because of that history, “Receiving a Fulbright has always been a pipe-dream I never thought would happen until I saw Nona Charleston at a meet-and-greet about three weeks before the application deadline.”

They talked, decided to give it a go, and now Unseth is a semi-finalist for the English Teaching Assistant in Poland. If selected, she would teach or assist classes in English abroad.

“The concept of the Fulbright as a cultural exchange and the ability to go abroad as an American and as a student and meet all the students, being considered something of a potential pseudo-ambassador, is amazing and really exciting,” Unseth said.

Her interest in Poland stems from a class at TU.

“I took a Holocaust class and watched Poland just get steamrolled throughout the twentieth century — by the World Wars, and the Soviet Union too,” she said. “But they’re still here. Their culture still exists. I want to study their self-conception and how they’ve kept trucking through all this hardship Americans haven’t experienced.”

A selection as a finalist would help Unseth take a step toward reaching her goal of being a teacher at some level, possibly a college professor with valuable global experience.

She cited one of her high school teachers, who was also her track coach, as one of her inspirations. “I’ve always wanted to be him, basically,” she said with a laugh.

“I really think it would be rewarding to fill the role that my teachers and professors had for me. They shaped my development so much, and to be that person for someone else, as a coach and a teacher, would probably be the dream.”

On the side, Unseth enjoys reading and writing, running a secret book review blog (made available only by request, she teased), volunteering as a consultant in the writing center, playing music at her church, leading a small group for RUF and baking. She’s also currently preparing for her third half-marathon, so she rarely slows down — quite literally.

Explore opportunities to discover the world through international internships, undergraduate research and social justice programs. Study abroad is just one example of how TU can help you write your True Blue story.