Alumnae Precious Patterson, Lena Hamvas Earn Prestigious Fulbright Awards


MACON – Mercer University alumnae Precious Patterson and Lena Hamvas have been selected to receive prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Awards to either pursue graduate study or teach abroad starting this fall.

Patterson, from Richmond Hill, earned her bachelor’s degree cum laude in economics with minors in business administration and chemistry in 2015.

She will pursue a Master of Science in Renewable Energy, Enterprise and Management at Newcastle University in Newcastle, England. She plans to study the effects of communal investments on fuel poverty in northeast England and Scotland.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to represent the United States as a Fulbright grantee. A Fulbright isn’t just a grant – it’s a lifelong commitment to improving the world through international collaboration,” said Patterson, who has spent the past year volunteering in Thailand through Teach Thailand Corps.

“Receiving this award has given me the confidence and the means to help strengthen U.K.–U.S. relations in the global shift toward sustainable living. Implementing renewable energy technology that is cost effective and efficient is a key component of sustainable living, and both countries have much to gain from continued cooperation and partnership. By the end of my degree program, I hope to learn that I have been of service to British and American communities by conducting research that is mutually beneficial and useful when making decisions about sustainable policies and practices.”

After earning her master’s degree, Patterson plans to pursue a career path that aids in the global transition toward sustainable living, such as working on renewable energy policy as an economist or helping businesses transition to renewables as a consultant.

As an undergraduate, Patterson served as a laboratory assistant with the Academic Resource Center for three years, performed as a trumpeter with the Mercer Wind Ensemble for three years and worked in multiple positions in the Office of Student Affairs for two years. She was a member of Mercer’s Young Americans for Liberty for four years, and participated in the Student Government Association as a student correspondent on the Heritage Life Committee.

She received a grant from Mercer’s BB&T Center for Public Policy and Capitalism to present her senior research on the effects of minimum wage on labor rates at the local level during the Association of Private Enterprise Education conference in Cancun, Mexico. She also presented this research at the University’s BEAR (Breakthroughs in Engagement, Arts and Research) Day, and she was a finalist for the McAfee Scholarship.

Hamvas, from Marietta, earned her bachelor’s degree in global health studies in 2014.

She will spend 10 months as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Jordan and then plans to attend graduate school for international comparative education.

Hamvas previously volunteered in Jordan for a summer, working with the Syrian American Medical Society. Additionally, she spent a year teaching English in Thailand through Teach Thailand Corps.

She currently serves as a full-time AmeriCorps volunteer with the New American Integration Program in Boston, Massachusetts, where she teaches English to immigrants and refugees and coordinates community-building projects.

“It is an honor to join the Fulbright community in Jordan because it is an opportunity to strengthen ties and advance mutual understanding between the United States and Jordan, a region that has been part of my family heritage for over 800 years. Most of the Fulbright grantees to Jordan will live and work in the same city together, which encourages collaboration and a strong network,” said Hamvas.

“As a Fulbright ETA, I will have the time to build relationships with the community and greatly enhance my cultural awareness of the region.”

Hamvas was awarded an athletic scholarship to Mercer to join the women’s cross country team and was selected to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Academic Team.

As an undergraduate, she served as a tutor in Bibb County public schools through the America Reads/America Counts program and as an English preceptor. She also gave presentations on the Syrian refugee crisis at Mercer and at an international youth conference in Prague, Czech Republic. She encourages those interested in learning more about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to contact her at

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the government’s flagship international educational exchange program, is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State. Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 300,000 participants – chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential – with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. For more information, visit