Student News

4 Wildcats Awarded Fulbright Student Scholarships

(From left:) Anna Fatta, Mary Allison Steel, Kennedy Bailey and Ty Gill.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 28, 2022) The University of Kentucky Office of Nationally Competitive Awards has announced that three students and one recent graduate have been offered Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarships to travel abroad to teach, study or pursue research for the 2022-23 academic year.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected based on academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 140 countries.

This year’s UK Fulbright recipients are:

Kennedy Bailey

Kennedy Bailey, the daughter of Benny and Shelly Bailey, of Hindman, Kentucky, is a recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. She will use her grant to teach English in high school and college environments in Norway.

Beyond her educational career, Bailey  has participated in a number of internships and professional opportunities. This includes serving as assistant editor for the Emily Dickinson International Society Bulletin and as a private tutor for the Hindman Settlement School Dyslexia Summer Programs, where she worked one-on-one with students to improve their reading and comprehension skills.

After gaining valuable experience, Bailey is thrilled to teach in Norway with Fulbright.

“Completing my Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Norway will provide me with the opportunity to continue teaching English language arts in high school classrooms as well as in college environments,” Bailey said. “Additionally, I am looking forward to studying the Norwegian language and storytelling practices through creative writing. I'm interested in the way that the language we use to tell our stories impact the way we think about ourselves and the world around us.”

Bailey credits mentors from the UK College of Education, including Sharim Hannegan-Martinez and Leslie Burns. She also acknowledges Helen Emmitt and Daniel Manheim, faculty from Centre College (where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 2021), as her inspirations.

Upon completion of her Fulbright ETA, Bailey is considering pursuing a Ph.D.

Anna Fatta

Anna Fatta, the daughter of Amy Matthews and Dominic Fatta, of Parkersburg, West Virginia, is a recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. As a Fulbright recipient in Mongolia, Fatta will teach university students over a yearlong period. She will also serve as a cultural ambassador, and hopes to use her role to start conversations about climate change, environmental policy and global collaboration.

Fatta is interested in working at the intersection of chemistry and ecology, and says it was at UK where she discovered her passion.

“I was always certain that I would major in chemistry, but I didn’t find my niche in that field until much later, when I began rock climbing at UK, thanks to a WRD 112 (Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies) group project. We were analyzing outdoor recreation, and I went to the Red River Gorge for the first time. I spent many weekends there over the course of my time in Lexington, and I began to think about how I could contribute to public lands. With the help of a few federal summer jobs and a wide variety of classes, my goals now focus on doing research that is directly relevant to land management and policy.”

During her time at UK, Fatta has worked in several labs with UK chemistry faculty, including Marcelo Guzman, Phoebe Glazer and Mark Watson.

She has also participated in Education Abroad during both semesters of her senior year. In the fall, she completed a domestic exchange with the Wild Rockies Field Institute in Montana, where she developed a deeper understanding for doing research in a way that is accessible and important to policymakers. This spring, she has been living in Copenhagen, Denmark, studying with the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. In addition to learning a new language, she has taken classes in glaciology, climate change and travel writing.

“I’ve learned about all the different types of climate information we can analyze, especially from ice, and I’ve come to appreciate that our response to climate change must be global.”

Fatta acknowledges many people at UK that have been influential in her path to graduation and earning a Fulbright, including Jon Hibbard, her Education Abroad advisor; College of Arts and Sciences faculty members Stephen Testa, Arthur Cammers and Tony Stallins; her mentor and employer Chris Little, with the Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts Library; and Pat Whitlow, director of the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, who helped her submit her Fulbright application.

Upon completion of her Fulbright ETA, Fatta hopes to pursue a Ph.D. and continue her career in research.

“Wherever my future career takes me, I’d like to retain this holistic approach to science,” she said. “Especially considering climate change, it is important to learn how Earth science systems currently function and how they may change in the years to come.”

Ty Gill

Zachary Ty Gill, the son of Sally and Pascal Gill, from Saucier, Mississippi, is the recipient of a Fulbright Open Study grant in France. Gill earned his bachelor’s degree from University of Mississippi, and will graduate from UK next week with a master’s in linguistics. He conducts research on the perceptions of English spoken on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where he is from.

“This program offers courses in historical linguistics of Romance languages and how Latin has evolved into the different language spoken in primarily Western Europe,” Gill said. “This aids my study in my family's 300-year-old dialect of French, spoken on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, as it is a mixture of several dialects of French and other Romance languages.” 

Gill says French speakers in the Mississippi gulf area have long been discriminated against, and his research has shown that French-influenced English is highly stigmatized among the varieties spoken.

“As I have been judged by the way I speak my entire life, I found linguistics especially interesting,” Gill said. “Now, I see it as a way uplifting my community and battling stigmas held by others, in hopes of eradicating linguistic insecurity.”

Gill credits the entire UK linguistics department for his success.

“Everyone has been equally supportive of my work, and provide different viewpoints for me to consider,” Gill said.

In addition to his academic work, Gill has worked on the Linguistic Atlas Project and has helped in transcribing the Linguistic Survey of Scotland. He also received a Fulbright grant in Spain for the 2019-2020 academic year.

After completing his studies, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Washington.

Mary Allison Steel

Mary Allison Steel, the daughter of Victoria Rutzen, of Paris, Kentucky, is a recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship — which will allow her to teach English in Spain for a year to young Spanish students.

“Growing up in a small southern town in Kentucky of 2,000 people, the only culture I witnessed for the majority of my life was my own,” Steel said. “It wasn’t until I started volunteering at local elementary schools across my state that I became fully immersed and inspired by the Hispanic community. As a young girl who suffered from dyslexia, I felt similar to my Spanish-speaking students, as words were once my greatest enemy too. This inspired me to focus on diversity inclusion, learn Spanish and advocate for ESL students to the highest degree possible. This passion has taken me all over the world, and I cannot wait to become more influenced by Spanish culture through my grant with the Fulbright.”

After completing her undergraduate degree from the UK College of Education in 2019, Steel applied for her first teaching position in Stockholm, Sweden, where she currently teaches 110 refugee students.

Steel credits the UK College of Education’s Sharon Brennan and Kim White as her most influential educators.

“My first taste of international education was inspired by Dr. Brennan. She instilled the importance of classroom diversity and using culture as a medium for celebration. Under her support, in my senior year of university, I traveled to Valencia, Spain, where I taught at an international school. Here, I witnessed the influence that culture holds within a classroom, and it transformed my understanding, realizing education as a country’s beating heart for global stability,” Steel said. During her time at UK, Steel was involved in numerous research activities to support low-income students, spending over 1,000 hours student teaching and volunteering.

Upon completion of her Fulbright ETA, Steel hopes to obtain a Ph.D. in bilingual and multicultural education. Her overall goal is to serve in the U.S Department of Education and be a voice for diverse, English language-learning students.


The Office of Nationally Competitive Awards assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university, including the Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarships. These awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to contact the office well in advance of the scholarship deadline. The campus deadline for Fulbright applications for the 2023-24 award cycle is Sept. 7, 2022.

About the Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program expands perspectives through academic and professional advancement and cross-cultural dialogue. Fulbright creates connections in a complex and changing world. In partnership with more than 140 countries worldwide, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers unparalleled opportunities in all academic disciplines to passionate and accomplished graduating college seniors, graduate students and young professionals from all backgrounds. Program participants pursue graduate study, conduct research or teach English abroad. 

During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, individuals will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.

Learn more at

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.