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Michael Hughes ’20 Earns Fulbright to Austria

Michael Hughes

Fulbright winner Michael Hughes '20 (photo provided).

Michael Hughes ’20 has won a 2022–23 U.S. Student Fulbright Austria Community-Based Combined Award to serve in Vienna as an English Teaching Assistant and work as a counselor and mentor with a community-based non-profit youth organization. Hughes will also take German language and internationally based NGO and public policy classes at the University of Vienna.

Hughes, from Batavia, NY, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business administration and a minor in marketing. He worked in Portland, Maine, for the Goodwill AmeriCorps through Portland Housing Authority as a student engagement specialist and Rippleffect, a Portland-based outdoor education nonprofit, as a seasonal wilderness education guide. Hughes becomes the 42nd Geneseo U.S. Student Fulbright awardee and the first to Austria. 

In Vienna, Hughes will serve as a teaching assistant at a secondary school, while working with the community-based youth organization BackBone20 (BB20) as a youth mentor and teacher in one of Vienna’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. District 20 has a high immigrant and refugee population similar to the Portland public housing neighborhood where Hughes served with AmeriCorps. BB20 engages youth 14 to 22 years old in community projects, learning support, and recreational activities to build resiliency and life skills.

“My time in Austria will give me a greater understanding of how education, funding, and community engagement are conducted,” he says. “I hope to also gain greater resilience as I expand my experience of living overseas and becoming part of a community in a new land.”

Hughes has always been drawn to international experiences as opportunities for growth. “From a medical mission to Greece, studying abroad in Italy, to traveling in Taiwan and Vietnam, I have thrived in other countries and look forward to sharing my culture with my Viennese colleagues and experience theirs through concerts in the capital of classical music, exploring the famous museums, and appreciating Austria’s amazing natural environments.”

Hughes plans to obtain a PhD in development studies, which will allow him to advocate for the needs of the underserved, serve as a cultural ambassador, and influence social justice policies on a local and a national level.

“Michael’s genuine curiosity, commitment to service, respectfulness, and humility represent the best of what American culture has to offer,” says Nicole Manapol, a community and economic development specialist who supervised Hughes as an intern with the Adopt-a-Business Program in Livingston County during 2019–20. “His experience living at the same level of the poorest of the poor in the U.S as an AmeriCorps volunteer, together with his experience traveling and studying abroad and strong passion to learn and serve in Austria, make Michael an excellent choice for this opportunity.”

In four of the past five years, Geneseo has been named a Top Producer by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in its annual article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. For the 2017–18 Fulbright cycle, Geneseo was the first dedicated SUNY institution to be named a Top Producer of U.S. Student awards in any category—bachelor’s, master’s, research, or special-focus four-year institutions.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed graduate study, research programs, or English teaching assistant programs in many foreign countries. Geneseo has nine semifinalists in this year's competition, with reporting continuing into April.

The U.S. Student Fulbright 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 millsm@geneseo.edu and 585-245-6002. For more information about the Fulbright and other nationally and internationally competitive scholarship and fellowship programs, visit Fellowships and Scholarships.

—Michael Mills