Two 2023 Ball State University Spring graduates—Jess Melvin and Madison Pickering—will spend the upcoming academic year abroad as recipients of the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Award. Both were selected for English Teaching Assistantships (ETAs) to help students in their host countries develop English language skills and serve as cultural ambassadors between nations.

Ms. Melvin, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind., completed a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with minors in French and Fashion. She will be an ETA in South Korea for 11 months. There, in addition to helping children and adolescents develop their skills in English, she’s also eager to explore the K-pop music scene and volunteer in the community where she is placed.

“The Fulbright ETA grant will allow me to do two things I love—helping others and immersing myself in a new culture,” Ms. Melvin said. “South Korea’s music and fashion scenes are unmatched, so as both a fan and someone who wants to work as a stylist in the music industry, I’ll make some really great memories that will inform my future projects.”

Ms. Melvin was engaged in various academic and extracurricular pursuits at Ball State that included her interests in anthropology, fashion, and music. Her projects included an Honors College thesis on K-pop styling, while her Anthropology senior thesis was an ethnography of fashion. She was also a collection assistant for Ball State’s Beeman Historical Costume Collection during the 2022-23 academic year.

Ms. Pickering, from Anderson, Ind., completed a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Directing with a minor in American Sign Language. Ms. Pickering will be an ETA working with high school students in the Slovak Republic for a 10-month stint. While there, she intends to also take in some theater and musical productions and interview Slovak performers for the podcast "Women with Words," which she founded and hosts.

“My mentors always talk about the importance of artists filling our souls so we can turn around and give to other people,” Ms. Pickering said. “I’m excited to see how living in a new place with different cultures, traditions, and people will help me grow as an artist and a human being. I believe my joy for exchanging cultures and my passion for mentoring students will help me be an effective ETA.”

While at Ball State, Ms. Pickering was an assistant director or director of several theatre productions and an active member of the Ball State Theatre Student Advisory Committee Outreach, among other campus and community activities focused on performing arts initiatives. She intends to work as a theatre director and eventually teach at the collegiate level.