Meredith Alumna Natayla Brown Receives Fulbright Award

Meredith College alumna Natalya Brown, ’21, is a Fulbright Award recipient for 2024-25. She will teach English in Madrid, Spain. Brown was supported by Meredith College and mentored by faculty member Dr. Vilma Concha-Chiaraviglio through the application process. 

Through the English Teaching Assistant program, Fulbright award recipients help teach English abroad while also serving as U.S. cultural ambassadors. In the program, participants spend time in the classroom and complete a supplementary project. Brown will work with an organization that provides social support to mothers.

While at Meredith, Brown majored in Spanish, sociology, and criminology. She first became interested in the Fulbright program after studying abroad in Costa Rica and The Netherlands as an undergraduate. “I realized through those experiences that I really enjoyed time abroad in a learning environment,” Brown said.

Since graduating from Meredith, Brown has completed two years of teaching in Chicago schools through Americorps. In the Fulbright program, she will gain more experience teaching while strengthening her language skills and increasing cultural understanding.

“I knew I wanted to live abroad in a Spanish-speaking country for long enough to be considered fluent,” Brown said. “Going into the medical profession, there is a huge need for doctors who can speak Spanish.”

Brown’s ultimate goal is to attend medical school for a combined Ph.D./M.D. program. When she returns from Spain, she plans to attend the University of Illinois – Chicago for a Master of Science in Healthspan Promotion and Rehabilitation. 

The Fulbright experience will support her fluency goal and increase cross-cultural competency.

“Spain has an incredible medical system, so I am intrigued to have exposure to a different system,” Brown said. “Just having exposure to different cultural expectations and cultural norms is helpful.”

Meredith College Support
Meredith College supported Brown in her application to the Fulbright program, for which she had previously applied. 

“The Fulbright is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Brown said. “It is an honor to apply and an honor to get it.” 

Associate Professor of Spanish Vilma Concha-Chiaraviglio encouraged Brown to reapply during the current cycle. Concha-Chiaraviglio serves as Meredith’s Fulbright advisor and mentors Meredith students and alumnae through the process. Concha-Chiaraviglio creates an interview committee that interviews applicants and joins her in the process of giving feedback, asking questions about their project plans, and writing an evaluation that is included in the application portal. Along with Concha-Chiaraviglio, the members of the committee for Brown were faculty members Associate Professor of Education Courtney George, Professor of Art Beth Mulvaney, Instructor of English Jason Newport,  and alumna Samantha Cibelli.

The Meredith committee also provided another essential ingredient – encouragement.

“They encouraged me as I prepared my application and sent congratulations when they found out I was a finalist. Dr. Concha-Chiaraviglio called me, I got texts from the committee, just a lot of encouragement,” Brown said.

This process is an example of the Meredith faculty’s focus on supporting students and alumnae in reaching their goals. 

“I had a really fantastic experience with Meredith professors. They have your best interests in mind,” Brown said.  “It is pretty rare … it speaks to the mindfulness professors have for you and that they carry on after you graduate. They don’t forget you.”

To learn more about how to apply to Fulbright, contact Vilma Concha-Chiaraviglio at


Melyssa Allen

News Director
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