Cultural ambassador and Fulbright Student Scholar Dana Grandstaff heading to Germany

Dana Grandstaff
Dana Grandstaff

Returning to Germany for the 2018-19 academic year to assist high school English teachers in Saxony, Fulbright Student Scholar Dana Grandstaff (CLAS ’14, M. German ’17) plans to be a cultural ambassador in the classroom and in the community.

It’s been four years since she was a student of the Junior Year in Munich an der Universität München program sponsored by Wayne State, spending the 2013-14 academic year immersed in the German language and culture.

With her degrees in linguistics and German, Grandstaff is delighted about the chance to go back to a region of the country she visited while studying in Munich, and says her decision to attend Wayne State has provided life-changing opportunities.

“I am fascinated with language and the study abroad programs offered here have shaped my life,” says Grandstaff.  “Without a doubt.”

She has been aware of the Fulbright scholarship for years, but like many, admits to being nervous about an application process that is extensive with requirements for letters of support, personal essays and academic records.

Overcoming her doubts, Grandstaff contacted Study Abroad Director Kelli Dixon and is grateful for the assistance Dixon, her staff and Fulbright alums across the university provide students who are applying. She is certain that if fellow students fully understood the support available, more would apply for the prestigious award.

In fact, this is the most successful application cycle for the university in almost 20 years, with three students being awarded scholarships to teach and conduct research.

“The input Dr. Dixon offers is invaluable,” she says.  “There are a lot of steps to the application and she helps applicants keep it all straight and together,” says Grandstaff.

Once in Germany next fall, there will be a required amount of classroom hours each week, beyond which Grandstaff wants to get involved in community initiatives helping young Syrian refugees assimilate to the culture and language of a foreign land where they seek asylum.

She’ll draw on her own experiences during extended exchange trips immersed in the culture and language of France at 12 and Lithuania at 19. In both cases, it took a while to gain her footing and feel comfortable, and she hopes she can help others achieve the same goal.

Fulbright, with more than 500 scholarship grants available, is accepting applications for the 2019-20 academic year.  It is not too early to start the application says Dixon. Preliminary information is online at or email Dixon with questions at 

The Fulbright website explains in detail the steps of the application process, but Grandstaff recommends students connect with Dixon and her team for further input on making the strongest application possible.

The Office of International Programs leads Wayne State’s global engagement by creating opportunities that foster international education and research, facilitate the exchange of individuals and ideas that promote global competencies and citizenship, and provide resources that support the expansion of the university’s global agenda. Follow us on Twitter @WayneOIP.

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