Millsaps College Builds on Fulbright Record

The number of Millsaps College students who have received Fulbright awards continues to grow.

Recent graduate Mary Austin Willis has been selected for a Fulbright award, with plans to serve as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in South Korea. Cailey Ness and Wayne Dowdy, also spring 2020 graduates, have been named as alternates for ETA awards. Ness hopes to serve in Vietnam, while Dowdy is aiming for Colombia.

This spring marked the first time the college has had three semi-finalists at the same time. This year also marks the largest number of Fulbright student applications to date, with more than 10,000 college students vying for grants. 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.

Willis hails from St. Francisville, Louisiana, and graduated in May 2020 with a major in business administration and a minor in anthropology. She studied in South Korea in the spring of 2019. Details regarding her travel to South Korea are still to be determined, based on the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 2020 graduate from Crestview, Florida, Ness earned her degree in Greek and Roman Studies with a concentration in classical civilization. She minored in chemistry and completed an honors project in biochemistry.

Dowdy, from Hammond, Louisiana, graduated in May as well with a double major in history and Spanish.

Students who apply for Fulbright grants are mentored through the process by Dr. Lynn Raley, associate professor of music and a Fulbright Scholar himself in 2012-13. Raley taught at the National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan and performed several solo concerts on the island that featured new scores by American and Taiwanese composers. Now a Fulbright Program Adviser, Raley helps applicants navigate the application and interview processes.

Millsaps has had a Fulbright awarded to a student every year for the past four years, with studies taking place in Russia, Taiwan, Spain, and Mexico.

DJ Hawkins, a 2019 Millsaps graduate with a degree in biochemistry, was awarded a Fulbright grant last spring and until recently was teaching and studying in Tomsk, Russia. Hawkins was teaching 20 hours a week at a university and hopes to return when public health and travel conditions allow. He is currently in the process of re-applying for a Fulbright grant to return to Russia.

Since 1959, Fulbright recipients from Millsaps have studied and taught in the former West Germany, Australia, India, Mexico, Albania, Jordan, Bangladesh, Poland, Georgia, Spain, and Taiwan.

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.

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit or contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Press Office by telephone at 202-632-6452 or by email at

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