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News Release

April 27, 2018

Etherton awarded Fulbright scholarship to teach in Hungary

Kayla Etherton

Kayla Etherton

Kayla Etherton, a staff member and graduate student at Northwest Missouri State University, will head to Hungary in the fall and teach English while advising students as a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) for the 2018-19 academic year.

Awarded by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, the assistantship is granted after an extensive application and interview process to individuals on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as a record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields. More than 1,900 U.S. citizens receive the award each year to teach, conduct research and provide expertise abroad each academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Etherton, a native of Lexington, Kentucky, joined the Northwest staff in fall 2015 as an academic advisor and success coach in Academic and Retention Services. She is completing her master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Northwest.

She is the fourth Northwest student in three years to receive the prestigious scholarship.

“Kayla’s background in TESOL and in advising aligned exactly with what the ETA position in Hungary wanted in a candidate,” Dr. Elyssa Ford, an assistant professor of history who advises Northwest students on the Fulbright program. “She really is uniquely qualified for this position, and her past experiences will allow her to have a smooth transition into university life there.”

Other Northwest students to receive the Fulbright in recent years include Matthias McCurren, a graduate student teaching in Latin American with a Fulbright ETA, and Sarah Worsfold, who is teaching in Slovakia with the support of a Fulbright award she received last year.

Etherton began pursuing the Fulbright ETA after learning about the program from McCurren, a classmate of hers in the TESOL program.

“What I’m most excited about is getting a chance to be in the classroom, teaching English,” Etherton said. “I’m also just really excited about the cultural immersion piece and what I’m going to gain personally.”

Etherton developed a passion for multiculturalism and studying abroad during her youth, beginning with a mission trip to the Dominican Republic at age 14. She returned to that region when she was 16 and worked an internship at an orphanage.

“It was life changing for me because I realized how spoiled I was here without even realizing it,” she said. “I complained about the dumbest things. I learned so much about other people’s way of life. That’s what drew me to Spanish, and being drawn to Spanish has opened up all these other doors for me.”

During the internship, she connected with a team of individuals from Missouri, and that led her to enroll at Northwest for her undergraduate studies.

“When I went on my campus tour, I was like, ‘This is it,’” she said. “It is a beautiful campus and the perfect size, and it just felt very much like a family environment. Like everyone was family here.”

Etherton earned bachelor’s degrees in 2013 in psychology and Spanish at Northwest, and she added a Master of Business Administration in 2014. She’s held a variety of positions, including a graduate assistantship in the advisement office.

In fall 2012, Etherton studied abroad, taking coursework at Universidad Nacional (UNA) in Heredia, Costa Rica while advancing her knowledge of the Spanish culture. This spring, she traveled to Panama, joining a team led by her graduate advisor, Dr. Nissa Ingraham, an assistant professor of professional education.  

“Northwest has really been my home for the last seven years,” Etherton said. “I became so involved in my undergraduate career and that’s how I found out I wanted to work in higher ed. People don’t usually go into college thinking, ‘I want to work in higher education.’ It’s really changed my life for the better, and I’m completely changed as a person. I feel very prepared for this next step.”

For more information about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program at Northwest, visit or contact Ford at


About the Fulbright Program

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright program has provided more than 370,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with opportunities to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. More than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 different fields of study are offered Fulbright program grants to study, teach English and conduct research annually. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in more than 140 countries throughout the world.

The Fulbright program is funded through an annual appropriation by the United States Congress to the Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support.

In the United States, the Institute of International Education administers and coordinates the activities relevant to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program on behalf of the Department of State, including conducting an annual competition for the scholarships.     

The Fulbright program also awards grants to U.S. scholars, teachers and faculty to conduct research and teach overseas. In addition, some 4,000 new foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study for graduate degrees, conduct research and teach foreign languages.

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit


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