Two Elmhurst University students were named semifinalists in the Fulbright U.S. Student Scholar Program during an especially competitive year for the foreign exchange initiative.
Afaaf Amatullah ’21 and Allen Riquelme ’16 MBA ’21 both applied for placements abroad in the prestigious program and are the latest in a line of Elmhurst students who have received semifinalist recognition.
Even in an ordinary Fulbright application cycle, becoming a finalist is exceptionally difficult. During this 2021-2022 cycle, a record-setting number of students sent the largest number of applications in the program’s history, said Mary Kay Mulvaney, the University’s Fulbright Program Advisor. “Given this, you can imagine that we are especially proud of our two semifinalists this year,” Mulvaney said. Amatullah and Riquelme were not named finalists, but both see their Elmhurst education propelling them forward.
Riquelme said he plans to volunteer this fall with children in low-income communities in Peru via International Volunteer HQ.
The Fulbright process “was very intense, but I feel very grateful that I made it to the semifinals stage,” said Riquelme, who applied for the English Teaching Assistantship program in Colombia. “Ultimately, I plan to take my educational business background and these global experiences with me as I aim to fulfill my lifelong goal of serving as a U.S. Foreign Service officer.”
He noted all of the people who supported his application—multiple professors, International Education staff, and alumni who offered guidance from their own experiences. “I truly appreciate all the kindness and generosity that has been given to me and cannot express my gratitude enough for all their immense support,” he said.
Amatullah applied for Fulbright’s English Teaching Assistantship program in Turkey. Set to graduate in May, she recalled a highlight from her time at Elmhurst.
“I cherish all the people I’ve met during my time here including professors, peers, and faculty,” Amatullah said. “Everyone wants to see each other succeed and better themselves.”