Category: International Main

International Students Association, 2024 Organization of The Year

International Students Association, Winners of 2024 Organization of The Year
International Students Association, Winners of 2024 Organization of The Year

On, Tuesday, April 9, The International Students Association were awarded the prestigious, David L Phelps Organization of The Year Award for 2023-24.

The David L Phelps Organization of The Year Award is awarded to a student organization that best exemplifies excellence in student involvement at The University of Alabama.

This award recognizes the amazing efforts by the ISA and their Executive Board: Omid Reyhanigalangashi, Abiodun Wahab, Diweng Dafong, Kazi Hassan Shakib, Zumanah Kamal, Matilde Tricca, Rahul Mondal, and Sophia Xiong.

The Exemplo Capstone Awards is an annual recognition hosted by The Office of Student Involvement, University Programs (UP), Student Government, Student Center, and Center for Service and Leadership (CSL).

This collaborative event honors the contributions of individuals and campus organizations to service and leadership within and outside of the UA community.

These are the highest honors that can be bestowed upon student organizations and individuals in regard to campus leadership and service.

6 UA Students Earn Critical Language Scholarships

Six University of Alabama students have received the Critical Language Scholarship to study overseas this summer.

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.

A headshot of Aparna Bhooshanan

Aparna Bhooshanan, a computer science major from Madison, will study Mandarin in Taiwan. Bhooshanan plans to pursue research in natural language processing, a field that unites linguistics with machine learning. Aparna hopes to use her knowledge of Mandarin to contribute to the machine translation field and develop methods to combat digital misinformation in different countries.

A headshot of Hari Gunda

Hari Gunda, a computer science and mathematics, foreign languages, and literature major from Montgomery, received an award to study Indonesian in Malang, Indonesia. Gunda is part of UA’s International German Student Exchange Program. Hari will pursue graduate study to research computational linguistics and multilingual natural language processing.

A headshot of Belle Hester

Belle Hester, a creative media major from Pace, Florida, will study Japanese in Okayama, Japan. Hester is a member of the McCollough Program and Honors College. A Japanese tutor for students at UA, Belle is interested in becoming a Japanese-to-English translator or localizer in the entertainment industry.

A headshot of Addison Miller

Addison Miller, an international educational policy major through New College from Birmingham, will study Mandarin in Taiwan. Miller is a member of the Blount Scholars Program and Witt Fellows Program. Following graduation, Addison aims to pursue another longer study abroad in a Chinese speaking area before attaining a master’s degree in international educational policy with the goal of working in language policy advocacy.

A headshot of William Muller

William Muller, a history and political science major from Roswell, Georgia, will study Russian through the CLS Spark virtual program. Muller is part of the International Relations Club, Alabama International Justice Mission and Prelaw Student Association. William plans to pursue a career in international humanitarian rights law to advocate on behalf of those whose plight may go unnoticed and/or undefended.

A headshot of Bennett Ogle

Bennett Ogle, an economics and mathematics major from Farragut, Tennessee, will study Azerbaijani in Baku, Azerbaijan. Ogle’s achievements include being named a White House Historical Association Next-Gen Leader and receiving a Certification of Appreciation from Ambassador John Carwile of the U.S. Embassy in Latvia in 2022. Bennett hopes to be an economic officer within the foreign service specializing in areas with significant minority-majority interactions.

The CLS program provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to 10 weeks overseas studying one of 13 critical languages, including Arabic, Azerbaijani, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, 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.

The UA Office of External Scholarships and Fellowships assists students in the pursuit of national and international awards including the Mitchell, Hollings, Goldwater, Rhodes and Boren, among others. Students interested in applying for awards that require an institutional endorsement can learn more on the External Scholarships and Fellowships website.

Contact: Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications,, 205-348-8325

Kobe Students Explore American Culture

Kobe University Students from Japan visit UA to explore American Culture

UA students and local social workers, comedians, coffee shop baristas and employees of agencies were some of the people students from Kobe University in Japan interviewed during their stay at the English Language Institute, February 14 – March 25. As part of their short-term program, the students did research about the U.S. in an area of their interest.  To gather information, they got involved with the Tuscaloosa community by attending a comedy open mike night, volunteering at the West Alabama Food Bank and visiting Goodwill Industries and America’s Thrift Stores.

At the end of their stay, the group presented their findings on religion, poverty, humor, discrimination, coffee culture, the civil rights movement and fast fashion. The students agreed that their interaction with Americans was a meaningful part of the program. In addition to their research, they took classes in Pronunciation/Speaking, American Culture and Writing.

New Collaboration – Embedded Office

The Capstone International Center’s Education Abroad department is excited to announce a new partnership with WorldStrides Higher Education, the nation’s leading education travel provider. Starting summer 2024, UA will house a WorldStrides embedded office on campus (in B.B. Comer) to work alongside Education Abroad to provide high-quality study abroad experiences to our students.

WorldStrides (including its subsidiaries ISA, TEAN, and Custom Programs) have been affiliated study abroad providers to UA for over a decade, offering international education opportunities to hundreds of students. This embedded office is an innovative progression to an existing partnership that will further allow us to meet the growing demand for global programming.

  • ISA, International Studies Abroad, offers programs in Africa, Europe, and Latin America
  • TEAN, The Education Abroad Network, offers programs in Asia and the Pacific.
  • Custom Programs partners with UA professors to create unique and customized international experiences that are fine-tuned to the learning outcomes and logistical needs of each program.

Aside from traditional study abroad programs, students can also participate in an internship, conduct research, engage in service-learning, or a combination of these opportunities depending on location.We will be hosting members from the WorldStrides Higher Education team on campus in the coming months. If you are interested in meeting them in person, please email

WorldStrides was chosen through a competitive bid process amongst a list of our affiliated providers and other U.S. study abroad providers. To see the full list of UA-affiliated program providers, please visit:

8 Individuals Receive Premier Awards, UA’s Top Honors

The William P. and Estan J. Bloom Award

Honors a student who has improved relations among different groups. Past recipients have been chosen primarily for improving understanding and supporting interaction among groups for a common cause.

Rolland Grady

Rolland Grady

Rolland Grady’s drive to elevate the Alabama experience for her fellow students is evident in her endeavors that will surely impact the world beyond The University of Alabama campus.

Serving as the president of Vote Everywhere, a nationwide voting rights initiative, Grady works to unite students from all backgrounds through on-campus missions, including registering voters plus helping them navigate the absentee ballot process and understand their voting rights and why they matter.

But voting education is not the only way Grady is bridging the gaps between student groups at UA. As a student officer in the Blackburn Institute, Grady has learned how to advocate for multiple perspectives among her peers and use that knowledge to help merge their varied experiences into ways to help each other prepare to take on the world.

The Judy Bonner Presidential Medallion Award

This award recognizes a member of the UA community who has gone above and beyond normal expectations to change the culture or implement new initiatives designed to advance the Alabama experience for all undergraduate students or a segment of the undergraduate population. 

Dr. Carolina Robinson

Dr. Carolina Robinson

Dr. Carolina Robinson understands that helping students reach their full potential happens outside of the classroom as much as it does inside it. As the director of the Capstone International Center’s Education Abroad office, she is truly using a global perspective to elevate the UA student experience.

Her peers say that her servant leadership and passion for students are how she fosters a culture of global education at UA. Through donor engagement, she has increased scholarship offerings for students to travel to locations such as Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Robinson cultivates the Alabama experience by showing what her peers call a “deep-rooted focus on first-generation and Pell Grant students” through programming and fostering opportunities that show these students that they not only belong at UA but they also have a place in the world beyond campus as well.

The Morris Lehman Mayer Award

Recipients will exemplify the life of Morris L. Mayer: selfless and significant service and leadership for the UA community, significant contributions to student life and integrity.

Malea Benjamin

Malea Benjamin

Selfless and service are two words that describe how Malea Benjamin is impacting The University of Alabama campus. Driven to make a tangible change in the world, she knew she had the tools to do that at UA and set forth to do so.

Through her various roles and involvement with the Student Government Association, the Blackburn Institute and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, more specifically her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., she strives to be an advocate for every student so they are seen, heard and celebrated.

Benjamin has gained a greater understanding of the various communities across campus as an Outreach Ambassador in the Intercultural Diversity Center, where staff members are educated through programming and conversations with various communities and then serve as a resource for anyone who visits the IDC.

How she engages with other students in bridging the community gaps among them is a constant reminder to her peers that students can and should be advocates for each other in making sure every student knows there is a place for them at UA.

The John Fraser Ramsey Award

The John Fraser Ramsey Award is not exclusively a service, leadership, or academic award: it honors a distinctive kind of excellence. The John Fraser Ramsey Award recognizes the versatility of gifts and attainments, as well as the breadth of excellence in mind and character, that have traditionally been the goals of a liberal education. The Ramsey is awarded to a junior with broad interests related to the humanities who has exerted a positive influence on his or her contemporaries.

Kate Herndon

Kate Herndon

As The University of Alabama’s first-ever recipient of the Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service, Kate Herndon knows the impact that service before self can have on a community and she lives those words every day.

Herndon’s endeavors focus on women, children and senior citizens, and through her academic research, she looks for ways to explore history to understand current policies to shape future policies and laws.

She is immensely involved with the Women and Gender Resource Center and serves as the assistant director for the SGA’s Safe Center Committee. She also is the director of campus outreach and recruitment for the Capstone Journal of Law and Public Policy.

Through the Blackburn Institute’s curriculum, Herndon has gained a knowledge and perspective about how to serve others that doesn’t surprise her peers who describe her as “brilliant and engaging.”

Many feel that Herndon’s passion to serve, curiosity and love of learning are just a few of her many gifts.

The Catherine J. Randall Award

This award recognizes the most outstanding student scholar at UA based on GPA, rigor of course study, and extraordinary scholarly or creative endeavor; applicants may come from any academic program of study, as scholarly and creative activities from within all majors will be considered for this award.

Kittson Hamill

Kittson Hamill

As a woman in STEM, Kittson Hamill is setting the bar high for future generations. Holding various leadership roles across campus and receiving numerous accolades while enrolled in a rigorous course load — she’s also showing them that anything is possible.

Hamill, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, is a computer science major focusing on data security and analytics and a triple minor in the Randall Research Scholars Program, Chinese and art. She earned first place in the 2022 Alpaca Owners Association Student Design Competition using her weaving skills and showcasing how she excelled not only in her STEM major but also in the arts.

She has received recognition for her academic and research endeavors from local, national and international organizations and interned with the U.S. Department of Defense and the NOAA Hollings program, among others.

Hamill’s other work in helping to detect Early-Stage Alzheimer’s disease and with the United Nation’s Girl Up program, all while maintaining a perfect GPA, are just more examples of her commitment to doing the work it takes to be part of the global good.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

The recipients of the award have demonstrated the highest standards of scholarship, leadership and service. It recognizes the practical application of noble ideals and is based on excellence of character and service to humanity.

Abby Morthland

Abby Morthland

Abilene Morthland seeks to unite and uplift those around her, and according to her peers, she already does. But she recognizes the space to cascade these values of identity beyond herself and thus works to create sustaining communities across her campus involvement.

Being part of the Randall Research Scholars Program has helped Morthland actualize opportunities to leverage her privileges and positions for marginalized populations. Through her leadership roles in the RRSP, she instituted mental health initiatives and created the program-wide newsletter to value student wellbeing and foster growing connections with and amongst alumni.

The Honors College student also serves as Chief Justice in the Student Government Association, where she trains Associate Justices and Clerks on compassionate, fair adjudication. This work, her double majors of Spanish and philosophy, her contributions of artwork sales to nonprofit donations and her many other campus experiences and accolades have worked to fortify her passion for human rights advocacy.

Dr. Carolyn Dahl

Dr. Carolyn Dahl

Dr. Carolyn Dahl’s work to make learning accessible has made a lasting impact on everyone around her. Her peers cite tenacity and capacity for “getting the job done” as markers of what she will do for learners and their educational opportunities.

As Dean of the College of Continuing Studies (now the Office for Teaching Innovation and Digital Education), she championed the idea that the University could reach learners of all ages and phases of life. Cultivating buy-in with fellow campus leaders, she helped transform online offerings, expanding higher education opportunities and social mobility for nontraditional learners. She was also instrumental in the development of UA Early College, an innovative early-enrollment program for high school students, and UA’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, serving older learners across the state.

Since retiring from UA, Dahl has continued to bring intentional leadership and engaged service to the campus and the Tuscaloosa community as an active volunteer.

Graduate School Premier Award

This award honors a graduate student whose University of Alabama experience encapsulates the University’s tripartite mission of teaching, research and service.

Dalis Lampkins

Dalis Lampkins

When Dalis Lampkins began her graduate school journey in 2019, she knew she wanted to pour into her students and encourage their successes. She would later learn that an institution is only as strong as the people within it and set forth on a meaningful path for herself and others at The University of Alabama.

She serves in roles across campus that foster student and leadership engagement, including president of the Graduate Student Association, where she helped create the Graduate Student Center that opened last fall to serve the 5,000+ graduate student community.

Lampkins also is working through GSA to focus on students regarding issues such as food insecurity, academic fees, departmental pay, student care and well-being and mental health, graduation regalia and child care.

She continues to work with various partners on UA’s campus and volunteers with many West Alabama nonprofits with students she is teaching and learning alongside to help them find their path.

Contact: Jennifer Brady, UA Strategic Communications,

UA Sweeps Top Fulbright Producer Honors for First Time

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama has been recognized as a Top Producing Institution of Fulbright U.S. Students for the seventh time in nine years as well as a Top Producing Institution of Fulbright U.S. Scholars for the first time. UA is one of 12 universities in the nation to receive both designations.

The Fulbright Program is an international academic exchange program with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and supporting friendly and peaceful relations between the people of the United States and other countries. The U.S. government oversees an extensive suite of fellowships and scholarships in partnership with more than 160 countries worldwide.

“It is with immense pride that we celebrate The University of Alabama’s consistent designation as a Fulbright Top Producing Institution,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell. “This achievement underscores the dedication and excellence of our students and the remarkable contributions of our esteemed faculty and staff who are shaping UA’s global leaders of tomorrow. And we are excited to announce that the University has also achieved its inaugural designation as a Top Producer of Fulbright Scholars, with six faculty members receiving Fulbright awards.”

Fourteen UA students received Fulbright awards for the 2023-2024 academic year. 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’s recognition as a Top Producer of Fulbright Students for the seventh time in the last nine years is truly remarkable,” said Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost of international education and global outreach. “It speaks to the quality of our students and to the dedication of our Fulbright advisors, Dr. Matt Feminella, Dr. Tori Jessen, and Ms. Megan Legerski.”

UA completed the sweep of top producer designations with six faculty members selected for various Fulbright awards.

“This year, UA is also being recognized as a Top Producer of Fulbright Scholars,” Wise said. “This is the first time that UA has earned this achievement. Our world-class faculty understand the value of connecting and working with colleagues and students overseas. They return to our campus re-energized and eager to share new knowledge, experiences and insights at UA.

“I look forward to our students and faculty continuing to seek and participate in Fulbright opportunities that further UA’s mission of advancing the intellectual and social condition of the people of the state, the nation and the world through teaching, research and service.”

The UA Capstone International Center offers guidance to students and faculty on a variety of prestigious international awards including Fulbright awards. The Capstone International Center website provides information for faculty members to learn about Fulbright awards as well as students interested in Fulbright and other awards.

Contact: Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications,, 205-348-8325

UA and International Students Learn from One Another through an Experiential Learning Course

ELI UA Students Building Marshmallow TowerUA and ELI students compete with other groups to build the best marshmallow and pasta tower

On Mondays and Wednesdays in BB Comer Hall, UA and English Language Institute (ELI) students come together in a unique program that provides both groups of students the opportunity to share perspectives on their cultures.

The CIP 202 Introduction to Global and Cultural Perspective Experiential Learning course has two labs which allow UA students to join international students twice a week throughout the semester. UA students can either join a Speaking/Listening 5 and 6 course in which ELI students learn about American history and its influence on culture or a Culturally Speaking course in which UA and ELI students are given topics to discuss or tasks to complete.

The CIP 202 course culminates with an Intercultural Experience Showcase. UA students in the course create posters that highlight the lessons they have learned and perspectives that have changed from their interactions the international students.

Intercultural Experience ShowcaseIntercultural Experience Showcase

Intercultural Experience Showcase

ELI and UA Students Building Marshmallow TowerUA and ELI students compete with other groups to build the best marshmallow and pasta tower

UA and ELI Students Building Mashmallow TowerUA and ELI students compete with other groups to build the best marshmallow and pasta tower

ELI Alumna Returns

Dr. Beyza Aksu Dunya

The English Language Institute (ELI) always enjoys visits from its alumni. Our most recent visitor was Dr. Beyza Aksu Dunya, who has returned to The University of Alabama (UA) as a visiting scholar in The School of Education to do research in educational measurement. Beyza studied at the ELI in 2009 on a scholarship from the Turkish government and at the same time met her future husband. After earning a master’s degree at Boston College and a Ph.D at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Beyza returned to Turkey to fulfill her scholarship obligation. Since then, she and her husband have been working as Associate Professors in their country.

Beyza is now taking advantage of a sabbatical to do research at UA concerning computer adaptive testing and student assessment. She appreciates the fact that her “colleagues here are open to sharing their ideas and their time,” and she values the resources available to her. Coming back to Tuscaloosa also attracted her because “it is a safe and affordable college town” in which to expose her 8-year-old son to a new culture and language.

We welcome all ELI alumni to stay in touch and to come back to the campus whenever possible.

UA selected to receive the IIE American Passport Project Grant

The University of Alabama (UA) has been selected by the Institute of International Education (IIE) to receive an IIE American Passport Project grant that will enable up to 25 UA students to obtain a U.S. passport and support their study abroad journeys. In this third year of the program, IIE awarded 48 institutions in the IIENetwork for this opportunity, which will help up to 1,200 Pell-eligible, U.S. students obtain their U.S. passports and start their study abroad journey. “A passport is the first thing that opens up their world to the possibility of study abroad,” said Courtney Temple, IIE Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer

As a key initiative under IIE’s newly launched Center for Access and Equity, the IIE American Passport Project represents IIE’s commitment to create access to international education opportunities and enable equity. For this program, IIE is removing an initial financial barrier for many – the cost of a U.S. passport; thereby, helping to increase diversity and inclusion of students studying abroad. Through the IIE American Passport Project, IIE aims to empower 10,000 U.S. students with their passports by the end of this decade.

In addition, the grant is intended to support the IIENetwork, IIE’s global membership association, in assisting students from their respective campuses to go abroad who would otherwise not participate in an international experience as part of their college education. The program prioritizes first-year students, with limited financial means, for whom this may be their first passport and makes global learning abroad a greater possibility with an earlier start. The awarded institutions will couple the grant funding with their engagement and outreach, advising, programming, and additional support for the students they have identified for this program.

The IIE Passport Project will be managed by Capstone International Center, Education Abroad (EA) office. EA will launch applications for free passports on their website ( at the start of the Fall semester!