MACON — Seniors Josie Arbaugh, Seiler Rivers and Abigail Van Pelt and graduate student Marlo Mecredy were selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Awards for the 2024-25 academic year, with one additional student selected as an alternate.

Arbaugh and Rivers were chosen as finalists and awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships to Laos and the Czech Republic, respectively. The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant programs place grantees in schools overseas to supplement local English language instruction and to provide a native speaker presence in the classrooms.

Mecredy and Van Pelt were awarded Fulbright Study/Research Awards to the Netherlands. Study/Research Awards are opportunities where the candidates design proposals for a specific country or pursue a master’s degree at a host university.

Thomas Neely

Senior Thomas Neely was named an alternate for an English Teaching Assistantship to South Korea and may receive an award if additional funding becomes available. Neely has also been awarded a placement through Japan Exchange and Teaching, which is Japan’s analog to Fulbright.

Mercer’s latest cohort of Fulbright Students brings the University’s total number to 25 since 2010.

“Fulbright is the U.S. State Department’s premier program for cultural exchange. These students will serve as ambassadors for the United States to their host countries,” said Dr. David A. Davis, director of fellowships and scholarships at Mercer.

Josie Arbaugh

Arbaugh, from Clarksville, Arkansas, is majoring in psychology with minors in art and chemistry. Following her ETA in Laos, she plans to enter a social psychology Ph.D. program with the intent to pursue a job as a professor. She said she would like to both lecture and conduct her own research.

“I am very honored to have received the Fulbright award and am grateful for the opportunity to help teach English in Laos,” she said.

At Mercer, Arbaugh is a member of Psi Chi, Mercer URGE, Mercer Students for Justice in Palestine and Mercer Relay for Life. She also conducts research about gender in the hardcore music scene.

Seiler Rivers

Rivers, from Newnan, is majoring in computer science with a minor in music. Following her ETA in the Czech Republic, she hopes to work in tech and eventually earn her MBA, with the ultimate goal of becoming a tech consultant.

“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to teach in the Czech Republic,” she said. “I am beyond excited to learn more about their culture and become invested in my town, and I sincerely hope to be a good representative of Mercer and the U.S.”

At Mercer, Rivers is a Stamps Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Upsilon Pi Epsilon international honors society for the computing and information disciplines, Mu Phi Epsilon professional music fraternity, and the Society of Women Engineers.

Marlo Mecredy

Mecredy, from Peachtree Corners, graduated from the School of Engineering’s Civil Engineering Master’s program in December. She will attend Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and complete a one-year master’s program in environment and resource management with a focus on global water challenges. The program trains students on modern sustainability challenges by covering fundamental environmental problems like energy sustainability and sustainable management of water resources.

“I am so beyond proud of this achievement,” Mecredy said. “I felt that I was taking a huge leap in applying for Fulbright, but having won it feels so validating and rewarding. It’s hard to wrap my head around just how much my life is about to change, but I am so excited for it!”

Following her time in the Netherlands, Mecredy plans to spend additional time abroad and go into a career in international development.

Abigail Van Pelt

Van Pelt, from Atlanta, is majoring in chemistry with a minor in computational science. She received a Fulbright to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where she will be getting a master’s in hydrology. Following her time in the Netherlands, she plans to move back to the U.S. and hopes to get a job in hydrology.

“I am so honored to receive the award and I’m excited for my next adventure in Amsterdam,” she said.

Van Pelt was also named a Global Leaders Scholar.

In addition, three Class of 2024 graduates were named semi-finalists during this award cycle, including Elena Endriss, a secondary education/English major, Tory Jackson, an anthropology major, and Olivia Hundley, an international affairs and Spanish double major.

About the Fulbright Program

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments, host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide.