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International Relations Club Hosts Inaugural Collegiate Model UN Conference

(April 2021) This year marked the inaugural collegiate level Model United Nations Conference hosted by The University of Alabama’s International Relations Cub (AIRC). After two years of planning, the conference, called AIRMUNC, was held April 16-18, 2021. It was organized by a team of 33 UA students led by Secretary General Katie Nuñez, Director General Lucy Philips, and Under-Secretary General Griffin Specker.

Due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, the conference was held virtually utilizing Zoom and Slack. Regardless of the unusual logistics, the conference was a success, with five schools across the Southeast in attendance: Florida State University, Elon University, University of Georgia, William & Mary, and the University of Texas.

Five committees were created to assess the delegates ability in parliamentary procedure, rhetoric/debate, and collaboration.  The committees planned for AIRMUNC were PTA Moms of Tempe, Arizona, Fusiles y Frijoles: The Reign of Rios Montt, Jedi Council: Star Wars the Clone Wars, Valhalla Can Wait: The Chiefdom of Jarl Bjorn Ironside, and International Monetary Fund.

The delegates and staffers had an excellent experience interacting with each other to create policy and outcomes in each committee, learning parli pro, and getting engulfed into the scenarios they created.

The Model UN circuit of conferences is competitive and cut-throat. AIRMUNC was designed to be more laid back, warm, and friendly with dedicated and passionate staffers. The success of this first conference has garnered interest into what the AIRC has planned for the future.

The AIRC is part of the Capstone International Center. The Model UN traveling team, the high school conference (ALMUN) and the collegiate conference (AIRMUN) are the cornerstones of the AIRC, the premier student-led global affairs organization at UA that continuously provides opportunities for its members to learn, develop, find community and make an impact at the Capstone and the world beyond.

UA’s Model UN team ranked in the top 25 in the world for 2020. If you want to be a member of the AIRC, a club that welcomes undergraduate students from every major, you can reach the president at, or visit

UA Students Win Fulbright Awards for 2021-2022

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A University of Alabama student has received a Fulbright Student Research Award and three students have won Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Awards for the 2021–2022 academic year.

Fulbright is the most prestigious U.S. international exchange program, offering opportunities for students, scholars and professionals. The Fulbright Award of the U.S. Department of State offers one-year grants for independent study and research and for English teaching assistantships overseas.

The highly competitive program selects approximately 1,500 award recipients from more than 11,000 applicants each year. UA has received national recognition as a Top Producing Institution for Fulbright U.S. Students for five of the last six years.

In addition to this year’s winners, five UA Fulbright Student Award recipients from last year who had their awards delayed as a result of COVID-19 conditions in their host countries are expected to have an opportunity to serve in 2021–2022 as health conditions improve and travel restrictions ease.

“During a year of extraordinary challenges, every Fulbright student applicant and their faculty and staff advisors rose to those challenges by demonstrating a commitment to the vital work of advancing intercultural understanding throughout the world,” said Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost of international education and global outreach. “No matter the circumstances, UA remains steadfast in providing such global learning opportunities to all of our students. We congratulate our 2021–2022 awardees and alternates, as well as those from last year who will now begin their Fulbright experience after a delay due to the ongoing pandemic.”

2021-2022 Fulbright Student Research Award recipient:

  • Malik Seals, of Columbus, Mississippi, received a Fulbright Award to research “Pregnancy and Multiple Sclerosis: Investigating Nature’s Immunosuppressant” at Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin in Berlin, Germany. A 2020 UA Honors College graduate in biological sciences, he has been honored with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award and membership in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Anderson Society, Jasons Senior Men’s Honorary, Omicron Delta Kappa, Alpha Epsilon Delta and Black Student Union Hall of Fame, and served as president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council. He is currently a graduate student in immunology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he is an Albert Schweitzer Fellow.

Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Awards offer U.S. students the opportunity to serve in an English classroom overseas assisting the teacher and exchanging culture with the people of the host country. The 2021–2022 recipients are:

  • Lindsey Drost, of Holland, Michigan, an experienced English Language tutor and Spanish educator in the Tuscaloosa City Schools and a UA English Language Institute conversation partner. Drost graduated summa cum laude with a BA in German and Spanish and received awards for excellence in German and the best essay in Spanish. Currently enrolled in UA’s master’s program in education, she was selected to teach in Germany.
  • Logan Fenhouse, of Lombard, Illinois, a Blount Interdisciplinary Scholar in the liberal arts, former leader of Beyond Bama Alternative Breaks, Spanish interpreter at Maude Whatley Health Center and mentor with experience tutoring all ages. A 2020 summa cum laude Honors College graduate with degrees in Spanish and interdisciplinary studies and fluency in Spanish, she was chosen to teach in the Canary Islands of Spain.
  • Natasha Stevanovich, of Washington, Michigan, a Delta Phi Alpha German Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society member, UA German Club President, Outstanding Service in German award recipient, Model United Nations Club member, Tuscaloosa County Schools ESL Tutor and UA English Language Institute conversation partner. A 2021 Honors College graduate in German and psychology with a minor in creative media with study experience at Humboldt University in Germany and advanced fluency in German, she was selected to teach in Germany.

In addition, four UA students were awarded alternate status for 2021-2022. They will be invited to serve should more openings become available.

UA alternates include Michael Fisher (Germany), Matthew Southern (Spain), Chynna Swann (Thailand) and Katie Tindol (Malaysia).

The 2020-2021 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award recipients who are expected to travel along with this year’s cohort include Camille Constance Nealey Carr (Colombia), Isabella Rose DeSheplo (Bulgaria), Robert “Chad” Hankins (Germany), Katherine Lightfoot (Germany) and Ian Samlowski (Germany).

“Our campus is proud of these exceptional student leaders in international engagement,” said Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of global and community engagement at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships. “We appreciate the dedicated faculty, staff and administrators who worked with our students on applications for these awards.”

UA Fulbright advisers Megan Wagner, Dr. Matthew Feminella and Dr. Beverly Hawk help students polish applications for success in the national Fulbright competition each year. Students with an interest in applying for next year’s Fulbright program can learn more at and, or email

Contact: Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications,

Doctoral Student Brings Bangladeshi Cuisine to UA Community

In celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month, The University of Alabama’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is hosting a cooking demonstration that discusses the history, cultural and familial connection of food to the Bangladeshi people.

Khadiza Tul Jannat, communications doctoral student

Khadiza Tul Jannat, a native of Bangladesh who attends the University as a doctoral student and a graduate research and teaching assistant in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, will cook one of her favorite Bengali dishes on May 17 at 6 p.m.

To receive a link to the free cooking demonstration, registration is required.

This is Jannat’s first time celebrating Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month. She came to the U.S. in 2016 to continue her education and hadn’t heard of the heritage month, but she said she’s excited to celebrate it so she can share her culture with others through food and her passion, dance.

“I definitely want to represent my culture and help us to learn more about each other,” she said. “I think that’s how we become comfortable with each other by celebrating each other’s culture.

“Where I’m from, we all cook. We don’t eat frozen food. My mom cooked and I observed her. I like cooking for sure, but I do other stuff. I love dancing, that’s the main thing. When I dance, I feel like a bird. But cooking is a part of my life.”

Jannat said Bangladesh is known as the land of rivers, and people eat a lot of fresh fish and rice. So, she’s going to make one of the most popular dishes in her country, fish curry.

“It’s hard to find the same fish types here that are in my country, but I’ll be using one of the most popular fish I can find here, which is tilapia. I’ll be using my own recipe cooked in my traditional way. It’s going to be extra spicy, but I’ll be showing everyone how to make it with less or more chilis based on their tolerance for spice.

“When your tummy is happy, everything is happy. So sharing food means sharing happiness. In Asian cultures, we are very much hospitable, and food is one of the best ways to show care. When we care, we show it by doing things more than telling.”

Contact: Jamon Smith, strategic communications,

UA Student Receives Boren Scholarship to Study in Taiwan

A headshot of Ann Williams
Ann Williams

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – University of Alabama student Ann Williams has received a Boren Scholarship for the study of languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad.

Williams, of Montgomery, will study Mandarin in Taiwan.

In addition, Blake Moreland, of Cumming, Georgia, was selected as an alternate to study Arabic in Jordan.

Williams is a junior majoring in international studies with minors in Chinese and women’s studies, and is part of the Blount Scholars Program. She is simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree in public administration through UA’s Accelerated Master’s Program.

Williams’ immediate career goal is to be a public diplomacy officer in the foreign service. In the future, she has loftier goals of working in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and eventually a policy director for UN Women.

Boren Scholarships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught language in such regions as Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

Boren Scholarship recipients represent a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena. In exchange for funding, Boren Scholarship recipients commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation. Amounts range from $8,000 for a summer program to $20,000 for six-to-12 months of study.

In addition to the Boren Scholarship, Williams was recently awarded a Critical Language Scholarship. Part of the U.S. State Department, the CLS program works to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

Contact: Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications,

Intercultural Experience Showcase

Intercultural Experience Showcase

On Tuesday, April 13, University of Alabama students presented posters highlighting their experiences from the CIP 202 course, Introduction to Global and Cultural Perspectives. This is an intercultural experience course that offers UA students the chance to meet with international students from all over the world. The UA students join English Language Institute (ELI) students to discuss cultural and current topics. The course provides the opportunity for the students to develop their intercultural competence, the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with people of other cultures.

Many of the students expressed that their biggest fear before joining the course was that they would say something inappropriate. However, once the course began, students quickly overcame this fear and began to form connections with the international students. UA students expressed surprise by how easily they could communicate with students from other countries and the many similarities they shared. Several UA students commented that this was their favorite class of the semester. As one student put it, it is a “life experience” class, not just a class focusing on a textbook. UA students felt that this class gave them confidence to communicate effectively with a wide variety of people in the future. For some students, the course led to an interest in studying abroad.

The ELI students benefit from the course as well. They have the opportunity to share their culture while learning more about U.S. culture and campus life.

Kelly McPherson, the course instructor, said, “It is really exciting to see the relationships between the American and international students grow over the course of the semester. You can see change on both sides as they truly get to know each other.”

The CIP 202 course is an introductory course for UA’s Global and Cultural Perspectives Minor.

Intercultural Experience Showcase

Three UA Students Earn Critical Language Scholarship

Three University of Alabama students have received the Critical Language Scholarship to study overseas during summer 2021.

The Critical Language Scholarship, or CLS program, is part of a U.S. State Department effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

Headshot of Jackson Burns.
Jackson Burns

Jackson Burns, a political science major from Sand Rock, Alabama, will study Mandarin in an online program based in Dalian, China. Burns, who is minoring in global and cultural perspectives, is an Honors College student and recipient of an Education Abroad grant. He was previously an English language partner in Ansan, Korea, in summer 2019, studied abroad in Chengdu, China, in spring 2020 and studied abroad in Seoul, Korea, in spring 2021. Burns plans to continue furthering his education and work in diplomacy or law one day.

Headshot of Ann Williams.
Ann Williams


Ann Williams, an international relations major from Montgomery, Alabama, will study Mandarin at Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an, China, through a virtual program. Williams, who is minoring in Chinese and women’s studies, is in the accelerated master’s program in public administration and is part of the Blount Scholars Program. Previously, she participated in the National Security Language Initiative for Youth, or NISL-Y, program in 2015 in Xiamen, China, interned with the U.S. State Department last year, and just wrapped up a job as under-secretary-general at the National High School Model United Nations, the biggest Model UN conference in the world, aiding in the success of its first virtual format. She hopes to gain fluency in Mandarin and work as a foreign service officer or with a human rights nonprofit.

Headshot of Samuel Watson.
Samuel Watson

Samuel Watson, a computer science major with a concentration in cybersecurity from Hazel Green, Alabama, will study Korean at Chonnam National University in Gwangju, South Korea. Watson, who is minoring in Korean, is also a recipient of the Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and the Boren Scholarship, through which he spent seven months studying at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, in 2017. In addition, he served as a college-level English instructor at Ansan University in Ansan, South Korea, in 2019, and is currently participating in a software engineering co-op at ADTRAN. Watson plans to further develop his Korean proficiency, and upon graduation from UA, he hopes to secure a cybersecurity position within the U.S. government.

In addition, two UA students were chosen as alternates. Elena Guerra, from Littleton, Colorado, is an alternate to study Russian, and Quinn Lee, from Montgomery, Alabama, is an alternate to study Mandarin.

The CLS program provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to 10 weeks overseas studying one of 14 critical languages, including Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu.

The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

Students interested in Critical Language Scholarships, Boren Scholarships or Fulbright Awards may contact the Capstone International Center at for more information.

Contact: Melissa Parker, UA communications,

UA Named a Student Fulbright Top Producer, Sets University Record

Fulbright_Top-Student Logo
For the fifth time in six years, UA was recognized as a Top Producing Institution for Fulbright U.S. Student Awards.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.  — For the fifth time in six years, The University of Alabama was recognized as a Top Producing Institution for Fulbright U.S. Student Awards while setting a new University record with 17 students receiving Fulbright Award offers in the 2020-2021 cohort.

“We are immensely proud of our student Fulbright scholars, all of whom have earned a priceless opportunity to teach and conduct research in other countries,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell. “Not only will they grow personally and intellectually by building relationships with likeminded peers across cultures, they are also furthering UA’s mission of transforming lives throughout the world through distinctive academic and research projects.”

Now in its 75th year, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the premier educational exchange program of the United States Department of State. The Fulbright Award offers grants for independent study and research and for English teaching assistantships overseas. The highly competitive program selects about 2,200 award recipients from more than 10,000 applicants each year.

“UA’s repeated recognition as a Top Producer of Student Fulbright Awards reflects the quality of our applicants and the dedication of our faculty and staff to providing all students with a global perspective during their time at the Capstone,” said Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost for International Education & Global Outreach. “The challenges of the pandemic have altered our delivery methods but not our devotion to offering a world-class and world-focused education.”

The UA students who received Fulbright Award offers in this year’s national competition are: Christine Allen (Spain), Austin Blair (Germany), Mason Olivia Blanke (Poland), Camille Carr (Colombia), Julia Coursey (Hungary), Caroline Smith Dean (Spain), Isabella Rose DeSheplo (Bulgaria), Lota Erinne (Spain), Logan Fenhouse (Spain), Amelia Wyant Gaither (Taiwan), Robert “Chad” Hankins (Germany), Asia Hayes (Spain), Joshua Kirks (Germany), Katherine Lightfoot (Germany), Ashley Tickle Odebiyi (Italy), Rebecca Paholski (Spain) and Ian Samlowski (Germany).

“These brilliant students deserve admiration for their dedication to their studies, and our university takes pride in their Fulbright honors,” said Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of global and community engagement in the Division of Community Affairs’ Center for Community-Based Partnerships. “We wish them all success as international travel resumes, educational institutions reopen, and winners have the opportunity to go abroad and serve.”

Students with an interest in applying for next year’s Fulbright competition can learn more at and, or by sending an email to to reach the UA Fulbright advising team: Megan Wagner, Dr. Matthew Feminella and Dr. Beverly Hawk.

Contact: Diane Kennedy-Jackson, UA Community Affairs,

Preparing for a Life-Changing Journey Abroad

Two UA students stand in front of B.B. Comer Hall.
Mariah Muhammad and Bailee Hughes are two of this year’s Gilman International Scholarship recipients.

There are countless ways to make a college experience memorable. But for two sophomores at The University of Alabama, they expect their most life-changing moment will come this fall, as they travel across the world to study abroad.

Mariah Muhammad and Bailee Hughes are recipients of this year’s Gilman International Scholarship, a program designed to increase access to study abroad opportunities for students with financial constraints who might not have otherwise participated.

As transfer students, they both came to UA for the greater opportunities it offered them, like education abroad. Even though the classmates have some things in common, they will embark on two different journeys this fall, in different countries, on different continents.

Muhammad, a Hoover, Alabama, native, is preparing to study in South Korea for the year. An international studies major and Korean minor, she believes her experiences there will be defining for her future.

“Being a global citizen is a life-long journey,” said Muhammad, who is a member of UA’s Model UN team and hopes to one day work for the United Nations. “Studying abroad is more than just going to another country. It’s about being open to new experiences and seeing the world from a different and global perspective.”

UA student stands in front of B.B. Comer Hall.
“I want to be an inspirational figure to minorities and show that anything is possible, no matter what obstacles are standing in your way.” Mariah Muhammad

Muhammad plans to spend her time abroad learning more about the Korean culture and language.

“I hope to better connect with the locals by studying their language so that I can make a greater impact while I’m there,” said Muhammad, who also received Gilman’s Critical Need Language Award, which offers additional scholarship funds to students studying critical languages while abroad.

Thousands of miles away, Hughes will travel to the United Kingdom, where she plans to further explore two things she’s passionate about — mental health and true crime. The Lexington, Kentucky, native hopes the experience will give her a competitive edge in the future.

“One goal of mine is to be an FBI agent,” said Hughes, a psychology major, minoring in women’s studies and African American studies, who plans to eventually pursue a doctorate in forensic psychology. “But my ultimate career aspiration is to open a criminal justice nonprofit, where we’d assist in criminal cases, and educate and advocate for mental health, criminal justice reform and minorities. I’m confident the experience abroad will give me knowledge and understanding in this field.”


A UA student stands in front of B.B. Comer Hall.
“I want to do things that I am passionate about that fulfill me, like fighting for overall equity and standing up for my beliefs.” Bailee Hughes

Hughes, who is involved in a number of organizations at UA, including Women of Excellence and the Women and Gender Resource Center, is also passionate about educating and advocating on behalf of animals and homelessness, which she plans to incorporate into her future endeavors.

Both Muhammad and Hughes have concerns about studying abroad during a pandemic, including a potential cancellation, but they’re preparing to make the most of whatever situation they’re given.

“I believe everything happens for a reason,” said Hughes, who plans to apply for the scholarship again next year if the trip is canceled.

Added Muhammad, who has firsthand experience after receiving the scholarship last year and having her trip canceled due to COVID-19, “It’s definitely a good lesson in adapting to unexpected circumstances. Always make a plan B, just in case plan A doesn’t work out.”

Contact: Melissa Parker, UA communications,

Model UN Team Wins at the National Collegiate Security Conference

January 22, 2021

This past weekend the Alabama Model United Nations Team competed at the 48th National Collegiate Security Conference hosted by Georgetown University. The 12 delegates representing the University of Alabama debated in a wide array of committees ranging from anti-terrorism policies to Chinese direct foreign investments in Tanzania. The team won three individual awards, a strong start to the spring season.

In Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet 1980, Freshman Ash Lussier tackled three primary issues: inflation, the IRA, and Afghanistan. While seemingly simple, the committee quickly evolved into power grabs in South America, new militias being formed, and even the royal family being accused of working for the Soviet Union! Ash’s performance as Ambassador Sir Nicholas Henderson led to her winning a Verbal Commendation – her second award of the season!

Freshman Sean Atchison earned his third win of the season with a verbal commendation competing in the Asamblea Legislativa of El Salvador, 1993. Delegates were tasked with solving various crises plaguing the country such as police violence, economic free fall, and a broken system of government. Though the committee’s prerogative seemed impossible to solve, delegates created and passed innovative solutions like building a community based policing program and a clinical rehabilitation system. In the end, the Asamblea Legislativa of El Salvador passed two resolutions that would revolutionize the nation.

In the French Third Republic 1871 JCC, Head Delegate Sarah Conrad addressed the rising of the Paris Commune and treaty negotiations in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. The committee worked to free POWs, bolster alliances with Britain and Austria and debated the role of the French colonies. Sarah won Best Delegate representing Foreign Affairs Minister Jules Favre.

The competition hosted over 500 talented delegates from across the nation and the weekend was a test of historical knowledge, creativity, and policy creation. Alabama competed against delegates from 30 universities including Harvard College, The University of Chicago, and Florida International University. We are so proud of all that the team has accomplished so far and look forward to the rest of the spring season!

Up next for the Model UN team is the McGill Model United Nations Assembly January  28th-31st. Students interested in learning about Model UN can attend a meeting of the Alabama International Relations Club. Meetings are currently being held over zoom on  Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm. Information can also be found at

UA’s Model UN team is part of the Capstone International Center’s Alabama International Relations Club. The Model UN team is the cornerstone of the AIRC, the premier student-led global affairs organization at UA that continuously provides opportunities for its members to learn, develop, find community and make an impact at the Capstone and the world beyond.

Sarah Conrad
Sean Atchison
Ash Lussier

Indefinite Entry Bars Rescinded

On Wednesday, January 20, 2021, President Biden issued a Proclamation Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States.

This action rescinds prior executive orders 9983 issued on Friday, January 31, 2020 and 9645 issued on September 24, 2017 which impacted citizens of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.

For a breakdown of how the now-revoked Executive Orders’ impacted travel for all 13 countries please look here: