Three Kennesaw State alumni receive Fulbright awards


KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug 3, 2021) — Jaylen Jackson developed a love of languages as a Kennesaw State University student, and now he has received a Fulbright grant to continue toward his career goal of teaching English as a second language to adults.

“Being a Fulbright recipient gives me a great opportunity to get experience and pursue my dream,” said Jackson, who will serve as an English teaching assistant at a university in Brazil for one year starting in March. “I know that a Fulbright is difficult to get, so I’m honored to be part of it.”

Jackson, who graduated last year with an integrative studies degree, is one of three Kennesaw State alumni recently awarded a Fulbright to study or teach abroad.

Jaylen Jackson (Integrative Studies ’20)

Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award, Brazil

Jaylen Jackson credits the first Spanish class he took at Kennesaw State with sparking his interest in learning and teaching languages. He furthered that pursuit by taking a study abroad trip to Peru as well as participating in an online language exchange program in which he had conversations with a student in Mexico who practiced speaking English while Jackson spoke Spanish.

“Everything I needed was easily accessible at KSU, and I always had the greatest teachers and the greatest experiences no matter which class I took,” Jackson said. “I was fortunate to have so many good influences throughout the Department of Foreign Languages and the Education Abroad Office.”

In Brazil, Jackson will assist in teaching English to college students while also giving them an understanding of American culture. Jackson has completed his first year of a master’s degree program in applied linguistics, which he will resume after his year in South America.

Kaylee Walker (Communication ’16)

Fulbright Study/Research Award, Spain

Studying for six weeks in Italy as a KSU student ignited Kaylee Walker’s passion for learning about other cultures and assisting people through international initiatives. On that trip, she met fellow Owl and future husband Perry Watkins, and the two of them have served together as Peace Corps volunteers in Panama, English teachers in Thailand, and currently as full-time staff at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“My first time abroad really sparked something in me to want to learn more about other cultures, on a deeper level,” Walker said. “Fulbright really resonates with us because it has similar characteristics as Peace Corps in that it’s not only going and living in another culture, but it’s creating those cross-cultural interactions of building friendships and teaching people about our culture while learning about theirs.”

Walker will spend two years in Spain conducting research about refugee populations while earning her master’s degree in global and international studies from the University of Salamanca. Her study will compare the immigration and asylum policies of the United States and Spain, focusing specifically on why so many refugees from Central and South America have migrated to Spain in recent years.

Perry Watkins (Psychology ’14)

Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award, Spain

Psychology graduate Perry Watkins received a Fulbright award to teach English to students in Spain. However, he has opted to accept a similar opportunity from a program through the Spanish government, the North American Language and Culture Ambassador Program, which will enable him to be in Salamanca with his wife.

Also, by taking the other offer, Watkins will remain eligible to apply for a Fulbright toward the master’s degree in international education he plans to pursue. Educating and helping others has been Watkins’ focus since he first traveled abroad, during the summer after his sophomore year at Kennesaw State, accompanying his mother when she served as a translator in Guatemala.

“Education is my passion,” Watkins said. “Receiving the Fulbright, with everything it embodies – international education, community engagement, cultural exchange, working collaboratively with teachers – is an amazing feeling.”

written by Paul Floeckher