Two Rice University alumni win Fulbright awards

Two Rice University alumni have received Fulbright U.S. Student awards to help teachers of English in other countries improve foreign students’ English language abilities and knowledge of the United States during 2013-14.

As Fulbright English teaching assistants, Ellen Bransford and Amanda Gutierrez will teach in Mexico and Spain, respectively, where they will also have an opportunity to increase their own language skills and knowledge of the host country.

Selection for the Fulbright U.S. Student awards is based on academic and professional achievements, language preparation and personal qualifications. The awards include round-trip transportation to the host country, funding to cover room, board and incidental costs, and health benefits.

Ellen Bransford

Bransford, who graduated from Rice in 2010 with a B.A. in economics and political science, has been an elementary special education teacher in the Rio Grande Valley at IDEA Quest Academy in McAllen, Texas, for the past three years. In August she will begin teaching English at a secondary school in Mexico City for a year. A native of Memphis, Tenn., Bransford studied abroad in Peru while she was an undergraduate student at Rice and in Costa Rica when she was in high school. She plans to obtain a postgraduate degree in education and work with at-risk populations and serve students with special needs.

Amanda Gutierrez

Gutierrez graduated from Rice in May with a B.A. in kinesiology (concentrating in sports medicine) and a minor in global health technologies. This summer she is working as a research assistant with Rice 360°: Beyond Traditional Borders. In September she will teach English grammar and literacy to Spanish children at a secondary school in Madrid. Previously from New Orleans, the Houston resident taught Spanish literacy, English, science and math to children in Ecuador, Nicaragua and South Africa through various service fellowships as a Rice undergraduate student. She plans to attend medical school and pursue a Master of Public Health degree and career in medicine so she can have an impact on the lives of people in developing countries.

Rice seniors, graduate students and alumni who apply for Fulbright awards work directly with the university’s Office of Fellowships and Undergraduate Research in the Division of Undergraduate Students.

“We are pleased that Bransford and Gutierrez will have the opportunity to travel abroad and to further their teaching experience,” said Madalina Akli, assistant director of fellowships and undergraduate research. “For this fall, we’re working with 48 more Rice applicants for Fulbright Program award nominations.”

More information on the Fulbright Program can be found at

The U.S. Department of State sponsors the Fulbright Program, which is the flagship international educational exchange program of the U.S. government. The program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and people of other countries. The primary source of funding is an annual appropriation made by Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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