Alum Earns Fulbright US Student Award to Uganda

Lily Shields '23

Lily Shields ’23 (photo credit: Nicholas Shields)

Lily Shields ’23, an anthropology and sociomedical sciences graduate from Honeoye Falls, NY, has won a 2024–25 Fulbright US Student award to Uganda. She will spend the year as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Kampala. Shields becomes Geneseo’s 52nd US Student Fulbright awardee and the third to Africa. 

“I was raised by English immigrants who emphasized both service and travel, yet in a nontraditional way, which set my life on an international path of growth and experience,” says Shields. “When I entered college, I had visited 13 countries ranging from Andorra to Iceland, and that increased to more than 20 by the time I finished my undergraduate degree.”

Shields’ interest in Africa originated with her mother, who at one point worked with Mother Teresa in India, and later spent a month in Uganda, where she still maintains connections with education and health workers. Shields is presently volunteering with a nonprofit dedicated to water issues in Uganda and being mentored by last year’s first Uganda ETA, whose tales of a life-changing experience cemented Shields’ determination to pursue the Fulbright.

From early on, Shields family travel often involved doing volunteer and aid work in countries such as Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador. “Because of these experiences working with children, tutoring, and teaching in various schools and orphanages around the world, I have come to see first-hand the importance of education to change lives and in doing so found a passion,” Shields says.

“Multidisciplinary does not adequately describe what Lily brings to the Uganda ETA position,” says Michael Mills, director of national fellowships and scholarships. “She is a world citizen, renaissance woman, and multitalented individual who is as likely to hand you a shovel to work alongside her as she is to teach you English. She is fascinating to talk to and full of life and vitality, which will make her a tremendously popular and effective teacher.”

After her Fulbright year, Shields plans to earn her master’s in public health at the University of Buffalo. “Besides my English teaching, I will continue to work with the Ugandan Water Project, as the focus is on providing access to clean drinking water, without which there are huge health implications for local communities,” she says. “My plan is to have an international career that involves health and culture, looking at inequities and how structural and socioeconomic factors impact wellness.”

Fulbrights at Geneseo

In six of the past seven years, Geneseo has been named a Fulbright Top Producing Institution by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in its annual article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Geneseo was the first dedicated SUNY institution to be named a Top Producer of US Student awards in any category—bachelor’s, master’s, research, or special-focus four-year institutions.

The Fulbright US Student Program provides grants for individually designed graduate study, research programs, or English teaching assistant programs in many foreign countries. Shields is the first awardee of the eight semifinalists in this year’s competition, and reporting for the 2024–25 cycle will continue through May.

The Fulbright US Student competition is open to students and alumni. It is administered at Geneseo by Director of National Fellowships and Scholarships Michael Mills, who can be reached at and 585-245-6002. For more information about the Fulbright and other nationally and internationally competitive scholarship and fellowship programs, visit Fellowships and Scholarships.