UM Graduates Earn Fulbright Scholarship to Study Abroad

MISSOULA – Three University of Montana graduates earned the opportunity to conduct research or teach abroad this year after being awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program sends each student to one of 140 countries worldwide to continue their education. Program participants pursue graduate study, research and teach English abroad as they expand their perspectives through academic and personal advancement, as well as cross-cultural dialogue. Over 100 UM students and alumni have earned Fulbright awards in 50 different countries around the world.

“The UM graduates selected this year, each had strong engagement in their field of study. They’ve made a difference on campus or in the Missoula community,” said Kylla Benes, director of the UM Office of External Scholarships and Fellowships. “UM’s emphasis on experiential learning combined with its world-class education sets our candidates apart for prestigious scholarships like the Fulbright.”

Emma Simuns of Missoula will study social work in Italy as a Fulbright scholar. Simuns, who completed her master’s in social work this spring, will engage with social impact organizations to research the impact of programs in southern Italy, while enrolled in the Social and Political Science Department of the University of Catania. When Simuns returns, she plans to share her findings through presentations at Missoula Works, a local social enterprise organization, and through the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund, a national social enterprise accelerator program. 

Elizabeth Wrzesinski of Bozeman will work as an English teaching assistant in Taiwan with the support of her Fulbright Scholarship. Wrzesinski, who graduated this spring with a media arts degree in digital filmmaking, will gain professional experience that will support her goal of becoming a professional filmmaker. The experience teaching in Taiwan also is personal for Wrzesinski, who was adopted from China, and eager to reconnect with her heritage. Wrzesinski plans to draw from her Fulbright experience to create screenplays and films that feature diverse stories of people from different backgrounds. 

Sophia Wilder of Lolo earned her Fulbright Scholarship to study coastal communities and regional development in Iceland. Wilder, who received a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies this spring, declined the Fulbright award and will pursue a Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz. During her time at UM, Wilder earned a W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation Scholarship and Franke Sustainability Fellowship. In addition, she was awarded an Experiential Learning Scholarship three semesters in a row. 


Contact: Dave Kuntz, UM director of strategic communications, 406-243-5659,