Eastern Michigan University senior Presidential Scholar becomes a Fulbright Semi-finalist

Rana Aabed presenting at the 43rd annual Undergraduate Symposium

YPSILANTI — Honors senior and presidential scholar Rana Aabed is a semi-finalist in the 2024 Fulbright competition. The psychology major is a candidate for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Turkey. The ETA program in Turkey serves to expand English language programs at developing universities across the country

Rana Aabed

Aabed applied to the program for the opportunities associated with the scholarship. Those opportunities include promoting cultural exchange, challenging herself, enhancing her language skills, and gaining exposure to living and working abroad. 

“This experience allows applicants like me to immerse themselves in a new culture, gain a deeper understanding of global perspectives, and foster cross-cultural connections. Teaching English abroad to Turkish students, as a U.S. ambassador with my Palestinian American heritage, will serve as a great global and collaborative experience,” stated Aabed. 

Aabed aspires to become a school psychologist and plans to work in a low-income school district in Michigan. Her primary goal is to serve her community by providing positive change and making a difference in students' lives. Aabed believes that teaching through the Fulbright program will aid in her future endeavors and looks forward to becoming a finalist and traveling to Turkey. 

“The Fulbright scholarship will challenge me to step outside my comfort zone, adapt to new environments, and develop resilience and independence,” states Aabed. “Being selected as a Fulbright scholar is a prestigious accomplishment that I am eager to take on. [The scholarship] is recognized globally and can enhance your profile, credibility, and marketability in both academic and professional spheres.”

Ann Eisenberg, Dean of the Honors College, encouraged Aabed to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship. “Rana will be an extraordinary ambassador for the U.S. and EMU,” stated Eisenberg. “She is an active and engaged learner, who has demonstrated the commitment to service and leadership that we expect from our presidential scholars and Honors students more generally. She is warm, friendly, and outgoing and will make her classroom fun and engaging.”

EMU Fulbright program advisor Dr. Carla Damiano helped Aabed through the selection process and provided her with feedback on her application materials. Only one in four Fulbright applicants receives the award and there were approximately 1200 ETA grants in 2023-24. 

“Rana’s personal story and convictions make her a compelling candidate. She is highly motivated to achieve her goals, enthusiastic, and an excellent communicator,” states Dr. Damiano. 

Aabed’s father inspired her to apply for the Fulbright scholarship. He taught English at the college level in his home country of Palestine before immigrating to the U.S. Her experiences at EMU also motivated her to apply. 

“My educational experiences at EMU have provided me with cross-cultural communication skills that I plan to utilize if given the Fulbright grant. I have interacted with diverse communities here in Ypsilanti through my work as a community engagement lead at the Honors College. My strong communication skills, my flexibility, and my leadership skills will help supplement my work overseas,” states Aabed. 

For more information about the Fulbright Scholarship Program, contact Dr. Carla Damiano at cdamiano@emich.edu


About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 13,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

March 06, 2024

Written by:
Brooke Whittaker

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher