Prominent Fulbright Awards Bestowed on Two Faculty Members

News Date
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Dr. Denise Davis-Maye, left, and Dr. Simone Byrd

By Hazel Scott/ASU

Two members of Alabama State University faculty have received the extremely prestigious Fulbright Awards for their work. 

Dr. Denise Davis-Maye, professor and interim chairperson in the Department of Social Work,  was awarded the respected Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholar award from the United States Embassy in Ethiopia; and Dr. Simone Byrd, professor of public relations in the Department of Communications, was honored with the esteemed Fulbright US Scholar award to Trinidad and Tobago.

Davis-Maye will teach, conduct research and publish at Mekelle University, a 30,000-student campus in Tigray, Ethiopia, with Byrd having similar opportunities at her host institution, The College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT).  They will travel to their respective host universities in January 2021 for a nine-month to one-year stint. 

“The selection to serve as an Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholar is an exceptional honor,” Davis-Maye said. “My participation in this highly selective and competitive program will hopefully benefit ASU and its students.”

She explained a significant segment of the program is establishing opportunities for collaborations between the host institution, in this case, Mekelle University, and the scholar’s home institution, ASU, to include joint publication and research opportunities, student and faculty exchanges, and study abroad opportunities.

Davis-Maye will teach Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Introduction to Global Social Work and Social Work with Rural Families and will work on a women’s leadership development program. Her numerous publications focus on factors that influence the well-being of African-American girls and women as it relates to academic, and professional achievement and development.

“I am hopeful that I will return to ASU ripe with content to enhance our current offerings in the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master’s in Social Work (MSW) programs and even cross-disciplinary opportunities. I hope to secure opportunities for BSW and MSW students to participate in study abroad and exchange opportunities which could serve to fulfill their practicum requirements,” Davis-Maye said.

For Byrd, her Fulbright Award is more focused on higher education leadership. Essentially, she will be spending more time in the Dean’s office assisting with credentialing, faculty development, and attracting and retaining talented faculty and students. She said that any research in which she engages will be a continuation of the work that she is doing now.

Byrd said teaching may also be part of her assignment.

“If so, I will likely teach Social Media, Media Entrepreneurship and PR courses,” Byrd said.

Byrd said receiving the award is a highlight of her career in higher education.

“Receiving a Fulbright Award is something that I’ve wanted to achieve for a long time, so I am very excited but also very grateful to have been selected. The opportunity to live and learn in an international setting is a dream come true,” Byrd said.

Byrd encourages more faculty and students to pursue participation in the Fulbright programs.

“Many people are unaware, but there is also a student-level Fulbright award, which would provide an amazing global experience for our students. Additionally, Fulbright is committed to recruiting and selecting diverse participants, so this is an optimal time to apply,” Byrd said.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.