Jessica Melvin has been selected as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) for 2023-2024 in South Korea. This program places Fulbrighters in classrooms to provide assistance to local English teachers where they help teach English while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S.

In eight months, I will be on my first ever international flight, preparing to land in my new home for the year. Through hard work and infinite blessings, I have been selected as a finalist for the 2024 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to South Korea. The English Teaching Assistantship was most appealing to me as an applicant because it allows me to both spend time exploring a culture and to be part of a community while improving the lives of others. During my time in South Korea, I hope to deepen my understanding of the country, immersing myself in the Korean language and experiencing the culture firsthand. As I have an interest in working in fashion styling, I also hope to learn more about the international fashion market!  

The Fulbright application process requires patience, focus, and dedication; you will spend time drafting essays, writing and rewriting short responses, anxiously and excitedly awaiting feedback, leading up to that one email that will change your future forever. I worked with Dr. Stedman, the resident scholarships expert here at Ball State, to find an application mentor to proofread my work regularly and help me communicate my strengths and my story to my target audience. I am eternally grateful to everyone involved who helped me achieve this lifechanging finalist status! 

My biggest advice for future students interested in applying to the Fulbright is to be your truest, fullest, most authentic self in your application. While it might be tempting to sanitize your personality and present the most academic version of yourself in your writing, I have found that those who are accepted tend to have some quirks. The Fulbright selection committee seeks out well-rounded, impressive, and intellectually capable students, but the strongest applicants are those who also demonstrate a deep passion for their chosen country. I nerded out about Korean hip-hop and fashion and mentioned my personal connections with the country in my essays, which showed that I can both provide quality work and assistance and take something enriching away from my time in the country. 

The process is long – I began my application later than most, drafting in August rather than June, but it was still over seven months between the day I opened the application and the day I found out that I was a finalist. This wait is arguably more difficult than the application itself! Regardless of the outcome, working towards a Fulbright grant is one of the most rewarding experiences one can have, and you will learn so much about yourself and the world around you through it. 


For more information, please visit the Ball State College of Sciences and Humanities and read more about the accomplishments of past students!