Paying it Forward: Fulbright Welcomes 2024 Alumni Ambassador Cohort

Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors posing for group shot around coffee table
Photo Credit: Lee Rivers

As a student at Howard University, Virgil Parker was inspired after graduation to pursue a Fulbright exchange studying cross-border economic policy in Canada. 

As a recent Fulbright alum and Howard alum, Virgil continued to browse his institution’s social media, when he came across a video featuring a fellow Bison talking about her experience on the Fulbright Program. That video inspired him to pay forward his Fulbright experience and apply for an Alumni Ambassador position himself. 

“Let me find the video for you,” he said.

Parker finally found the clip and held the phone out to show his table. Vincent Pickett, who manages the Fulbright outreach team at the Department of State reacted immediately: “Ha, that’s Wen-Kuni!” He indicated legacy alumni ambassador Wen-Kuni Céant who had – just moments earlier — sat down at the same table. As a member of a previous cohort, Céant was there to welcome the new generation of ambassadors and provide guidance and lessons learned from her experience throughout the orientation and training sessions.

Virgil Parker and Wen-Kuni Céant  posing for photo while holding phone with video playing

Parker and Céant exchanged enthusiastic greetings and thanks. Without Céant’s outreach, Parker explained that he wouldn’t have applied to the role as a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador. Now, as a dedicated storyteller working in journalism and media, Parker hopes to provide the same encouragement to others who want to share their expertise on an international stage. 

Alumni Ambassadors are recent alums of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program who are selected through a competitive process to serve as representatives of the U.S. Fulbright Student Program for two years.  They are selected with the input of the U.S. embassies in the Fulbright host country and program advisors for their achievements and potential to make an impact as representatives of the Fulbright Program.

At the annual orientation event, Alumni Ambassadors receive presentation and media training for outreach and recruitment. Just as Wen-Kuni Céant’s story inspired Virgil Parker, the orientations hone the Ambassadors’ storytelling skills to connect and answer questions. From January 24-26, the new Alumni Ambassadors heard from a series of speakers from the United States Department of State and the Institute for International Education (IIE), which supports the administration of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Fulbright Program Director Mary Kirk emphasized to the group how important it is for Fulbright, through Alumni Ambassadors, to connect to individuals. Alumni Ambassadors represent the full diversity of the United States, said Kirk, with the goal of everyone envisioning themselves as a Fulbrighter. Kirk stressed that Alumni Ambassadors come from “all backgrounds and parts of the country, all types of institutions, and work in all fields and professions.”

Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors posing on either side of Howard University sign.
Photo Credit: Lee Rivers

On the last day of the orientation, the new Alumni Ambassadors held their first professional outreach event and recruitment activity at Howard University, where Virgil Parker was happy to show his fellow ambassadors around campus. At Howard, and in their future site visits, the ambassadors draw on their training and their deep understanding of the Fulbright Program to promote the program in their own communities. Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors serve a special role as envoys to colleges and universities around the country. They are available for higher education institutions to reach out to them and request an outreach presentation.

To reach out to a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador, read more about each member of the new cohort, or invite one to your own campus, visit: Alumni Ambassadors (

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