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Three A&S Students Receive Fulbrights

By Whitney Hale

Photo of a student
Rayleigh Deaton

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 5, 2023)  The University of Kentucky Office of Nationally Competitive Awards has announced that four students have been offered Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarships to travel abroad to teach, study or pursue research for the 2023-24 academic year.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected based on academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 140 countries.

This year’s UK Fulbright recipients are:

In addition, two Wildcats were selected as alternates — Brittany Johnson, 2002 graduate in dance and family sciences, an alternate for English Teaching Assistant to Spain, and Lexi Nolletti, a graduating senior in neuroscience, an alternate for English Teaching Assistant to Spain.

Rayleigh Deaton

Rayleigh Deaton, the daughter of Tim and Becky Deaton, of Charleston, South Carolina, is a recipient of the Royal Holloway, University of London Award. She will use her Fulbright to pursue the first year of a master's degree in journalism.

“I am so honored to be a Fulbrighter,” Deaton said. “Receiving a Fulbright scholarship has been my dream since my freshman year, and I still can’t believe it’s real!

“I’m so thankful to the Fulbright Selection Committee, my recommenders Peter Baniak of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Ryan Craig and Dean Greer of the UK College of Communication and Information, Dr. Whitlow and Emily Sallee from the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, and my friends and family for helping make this possible. I truly could not have done it without them and their support every step of the way.”

In addition to her double major of communication and political science, Deaton also minored in journalism. During her undergraduate studies, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Kentucky Kernel, UK’s independent student-run newspaper, and interned at the Lexington Herald-Leader as a reporting intern. Deaton is a previous recipient of the English-Speaking Union Scholarship.

Courtney Hausman

Courtney Hausman, the daughter of Christine and Charles Hausman of Lexington, is a recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. As a Fulbright recipient in Taiwan, she will teach English in one or more elementary or junior high schools, aid in the development of the English curriculum, and serve as a cultural ambassador for the United States.

“I hope to engage in cultural exchange and empower students so they can work toward facing any challenge: academic, artistic or other, in a way that serves them as individuals and their communities,” said Hausman, who previously earned a bachelor’s degree from Baldwin Wallace University.

The Fulbright ETA is a great fit for the UK elementary education graduate, artist and previous instructor of English as a second language. “Teaching allows for endless opportunities of creativity, compassion and gratitude. Throughout my development as a performing artist and a student, I was inspired by compassionate mentors that set high expectations, instilled lifelong curiosity, and encouraged me to explore my potential as an individual. I strive to be the kind of educator that adapts, mentors through a lens of empathy, and uplifts students’ confidence, creativity and engagement.”

Hausman, who did her student teaching at Breckinridge Elementary, is a teaching artist at the Lexington Theatre Company. Throughout the school year, she teaches movement and storytelling to students of the Bluegrass in grades K-eighth. She credits Thais Council, assistant professor of literacy, and Kimberly White, associate clinical professor of elementary education, as influences on her success at UK.

Upon completion of her Fulbright ETA, Hausman hopes to earn a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language and a certificate in gifted and talented endorsement.

Nour Kayali

Nour Kayali, the daughter of Fayhaa Hathout and Ahmad Kayali, of McLean, Virginia, is a recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. The assistantship will allow Kayali to teach English in Thailand for a year to its youth.

“I will be able to improve as an educator in practices and explore a country and culture I'm interested in,” the linguistics graduate student said. “Living in Thailand for a year will also help me to broaden my horizons personally and professionally by exposing me to a new language, new context and many new experiences.”

A native of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Kayali holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma. She is a member of the Linguistic Society of America, Acoustical Society of America and American Dialect Society.

Upon completion of her Fulbright and master’s degree at UK, Kayali will pursue a doctorate in linguistics at the University of Michigan.

Photo of a student
Nicholas Passarelli

Nicholas Passarelli

Nicholas “Angel” Passarelli, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, is a recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. The assistantship will allow Passarelli to teach English in Italy for a year.

“I'm excited to not only hone my teaching skills, but also to challenge myself in a new linguistic and cultural environment.”

Passarelli, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, has served as a research assistant for Linguistic Atlas Project; instructor for the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies; teaching assistant for Department of Linguistics; and graduate tutor for UK Writing Center at UK. He credits linguistic faculty Allison BurketteDennis PrestonRusty BarrettKevin McGowan and Mark Lauersdorf and his graduate cohort as influences on his success.

Upon completion of his Fulbright ETA and master’s degree, Passarelli may consider pursuing a doctoral degree.

About the Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program expands perspectives through academic and professional advancement and cross-cultural dialogue. Fulbright creates connections in a complex and changing world. In partnership with more than 140 countries worldwide, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers unparalleled opportunities in all academic disciplines to passionate and accomplished graduating college seniors, graduate students and young professionals from all backgrounds. Program participants pursue graduate study, conduct research or teach English abroad. 

During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, individuals will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.

Learn more at

About the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards

The UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards assists current undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external fellowships scholarships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These major awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with the office's director, Pat Whitlow, well in advance of the scholarship deadline.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.