Three of six Fulbright recipients are from CLA

Six Auburn University graduates will serve as English Teaching Assistants in five countries around the world as awardees of the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. This is the first time in the history of the university that six Auburn students have received Fulbright Scholarships from the celebrated educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, and three of the recipients are from the College of Liberal Arts. (Pictured below, from left: Katie Kirk, Amanda Darnell and Sarah Pitts)

Photo of Katie Kirk, Amanda Darnell, and Sarah Pitts

"Auburn’s unprecedented number of Fulbright Scholars certainly demonstrates the quality of our students, faculty and academic programs,” said Bill Hardgrave, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “I am extremely proud of these six recent graduates who have worked so diligently and will represent our institution as they advance their research and studies abroad.”

Fulbright English Teaching Assistants, or ETAs, spend much of their time in classrooms abroad supporting the host country’s English language instruction. Program participants also contribute to the numerous learning benefits of hosting a native speaker in the classroom.

“I want to congratulate all six of this year’s Fulbright recipients,” said College of Liberal Arts Dean Joseph Aistrup. “I am especially proud of Sarah, Katie, and Amanda, who prove that our students and graduates continue to set the standard for academic excellence both nationally, and abroad.”

Award recipient Sarah Pitts, from Birmingham, is a 2017 Honors College graduate in the College of Liberal Arts earning a double bachelor's degree in English literature and Spanish with a minor in political science. She will spend her Fulbright year in Colombia. A finalist for both the Truman and Rhodes Scholarships, Pitts’ other leadership and service achievements include serving as an active member of Auburn’s chapter of Universities Fighting World Hunger; as one of a small handful of students who actively participate in the “Blessings in a Backpack” school nutrition program; as a member of the International Buddy program; and as a volunteer peer-mentor with the Office of Accessibility.

“I believe the classroom must necessarily be a space where students feel comfortable to try and to risk failing, and this is especially true with language learning,” Pitts said. “As a Fulbright ETA in Colombia I hope to create a classroom in which trying is celebrated above succeeding so that my students will gain the confidence in their language skills that will allow them to speak and write, without the stress of aiming for perfection.”

Award recipient Katie Kirk is a native of Little Texas, Alabama, and is a spring 2018 graduate in the College of Liberal Arts earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and minors in German and English. Kirk will spend her Fulbright ETA in Germany. Throughout her four years on campus, Kirk immersed herself in the life of the philosophy department, being mentored by faculty and upperclassmen and eventually becoming president of the Philosophy Club and intern for the Philosophy and Religion Workshop. In addition, she served as a lead writing consultant in the Miller Writing Center.

“My time in philosophy deepened a love of languages and linguistics, and that is why I chose to minor in English and German to further develop those skills,” said Kirk. “As a Fulbright ETA, I plan to organize a young adult literature reading group as a way to further connect to my German language students and share my interest on topics of political and theological importance for public audiences.”

Award recipient Amanda Darnell, from Huntsville, is a spring 2018 College of Liberal Arts graduate earning dual bachelor’s degrees in German and Spanish, with electives in linguistics and three additional languages. Darnell will spend her Fulbright ETA in Germany. While at Auburn, Darnell served in a variety of positions which actively promoted the learning of foreign languages on campus, serving as president of the German Club, co-president of the German Honor Society, co-president of Spanish Club and research assistant to faculty in the German Department. In addition, she taught English in Seville, Spain, during a study abroad experience, and she served as a literacy coach in Auburn City Schools.

“Teaching English in Germany is an opportunity to touch the lives of young individuals in both their native tongue and my own, and this passion I intend to pursue for years to come,” said Darnell. “After having studied five languages at Auburn and tutored in three, I realized that teaching English is what I can do best in cultivating a mutual understanding and sharing a sincere and approachable representation of American life.”

The other three recipeints are: Alyssa Patterson from the College of Education, Kayla Frey from the College of Sciences and Mathematics, and Haley Carter from the College of Human Sciences. 

Fulbright applicants are assisted in the application process by Paul Harris, associate director of the Honors College.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with our scholars throughout the lengthy application process,” said Harris. “They are inquisitive and engaging with a range of interests and activities that go well beyond their stellar classroom performance. They will gain so much from their year abroad and they will represent themselves, Auburn University and the United States with distinction.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“As the Fulbright program is the Department of State’s flagship exchange program, we are proud that our young alumni will become ambassadors for the United States and for Auburn University,” said Andy Gillespie, assistant provost for international programs.

For additional information about the Fulbright Scholarship contact Paul Harris in the Honors College at

Last Updated: May 29, 2018