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Taylor University Alumna Alex Berends Receives Fulbright Award

  • By: Provided by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Published:
Alex Berends

Alex Berends, a 2019 Taylor University alumna and standout student athlete, has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award for an English Teaching Assistantship for the 2019-2020 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Berends, who graduated in May with academic honors, was an All-American athlete in cross country and track during her four years at Taylor. She is one of over 2,100 American citizens who will study, conduct research, and teach abroad for the 2019-2020 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as their record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields. 

Her English Teaching Assistantship in Taiwan includes a non-classroom service activity, launching an after-school or weekend sports-activity club. As a cross-country athlete, Berends said she hopes to share a special fun part of her American culture as well as providing an opportunity for her to learn more about the participants’ culture in relaxed conversational interaction.

“When I first heard about this grant, it sounded like the perfect description of how to grow in the areas I want to grow in,” Berends said. “I get to learn firsthand about another culture, practice connecting with a community as a complete outsider, sharpen my Mandarin skills, and get my feet wet in the realm of applied linguistics—all while helping kids learn. I can't overstate how much this opportunity means to me.

“The Taylor University Fulbright Committee, and especially Sue Gavin (Taylor’s Fulbright Program Adviser), were so important in getting me here,” Berends added. “Sue guided me through the whole application process, and the committee helped me refine my application. The fact that I now have this opportunity is in large part thanks to them.”

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program 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.  Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Fulbrighters address critical global challenges in all disciplines while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States.  Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 84 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.

In the United States, the Institute of International Education supports the implementation of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, including conducting an annual competition for the scholarships.     

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit