August 21, 2017
Detroit Mercy’s Fulbright Hays Group Project Abroad to Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, July of 2016 at Yoruba Community and School. Pictured from left to right are: Dr. Roy Finkenbine (Detroit Mercy); Dr. Alan Grigg (Detroit Mercy); Karen Russell (Edison Elementary School, Detroit); Dr. Renady Hightower (Detroit Mercy); William Bowles (Western International High School, Detroit); Lara Wasner (Detroit Mercy); Alana Wynes (University Preparatory Academy, Detroit); Regina Elamri (Chandler Park Academy, Detroit); Dr. Gail Presbey (Detroit Mercy); Dr. Kamasi Hill (Evanston Twp High School, Evanston Twp. Ill.); Rachael Walker (Renaissance High School); Erika Stowall (Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences, Detroit).

University of Detroit Mercy Director of Language & Cultural Training Lara Wasner received a $93,252 grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad (GPA) Program. Wasner will use this grant to facilitate a curriculum enhancement project for University faculty and Detroit K-12 teachers of arts and social sciences.

Wasner and the Detroit delegation will travel to northeast Brazil for collaborative learning and project development during the summer of 2018. Participants will develop a curriculum project or unit plan that will complement learning and help internationalize their school and district. 

“I am honored to be a part of such an important grant on behalf of the University,” said Wasner.  “One cannot talk about Brazil without acknowledging the African influence in the Northeast cities of Salvador, Bahia and São Luis, Maranhão. The overarching goal of this GPA is to provide a four-week collaborative learning experience in Northeast Brazil, offering participants multiple perspectives of the African-American experience through scholarly research and dialogue to help inform learning, build and enhance resources and internationalize curricula in meaningful and measurable ways.”

Wasner also noted that this program “includes Portuguese language instruction, historical and cultural learnings, and engagement with community through site visits, lectures and programming – including with quilombo communities founded by runaway slaves and whose ancestral land is currently threatened." 

Over the past years, many Detroit Mercy faculty and staff have received Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays awards. In 2016, Detroit Mercy faculty Roy Finkenbine, Gail Presbey, Renady Hightower, Alan Grigg, Ann Eskridge and Wasner participated in a Brazil GPA. To view a list of Detroit Mercy awardees, please visit

The Council for International Exchange of Scholars, a division of the Institute of International Education, administers the Fulbright-Hays Program. The program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and works to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

The primary source of funding for the Fulbright-Hays Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. The Program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright-Hays Program has given over 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, scientists and other professionals the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in government, science, the arts, business, philanthropy, education and many other fields.

Forty-four Fulbright alumni from 12 countries won the Nobel Prize and 78 alumni have received Pulitzer Prizes. Prominent Fulbright alumni include: Muhammad Yunus, founder, Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient; Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia; John Hope Franklin, noted American historian and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient; Riccardo Giacconi, physicist and 2002 Nobel Laureate; Amar Gopal Bose, chairman and founder, Bose Corporation; Renée Fleming, soprano; Jonathan Franzen, writer; and Daniel Libeskind, architect.

Fulbright recipients are among more than 50,000 individuals participating in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program is administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, a division of the Institute of International Education.

— By Gary Erwin. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.