Back to all News & Stories

Fulbright Recipient Shines Bright

URI experience has made Fulbright Scholar confident in her abilities

Annabelle Leahy M.S.’23 is one of four University of Rhode Island alumni awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship this year. Annabelle graduated from the Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) and the College of the Environment and Life Sciences with a joint degree in marine affairs and oceanography.

When applying to graduate school, Annabelle was considering a range of subjects. After her undergraduate degree in biology at Carleton College, Annabelle spent a year working with the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. There she became familiar with GSO.

The ability to combine her interest in marine affairs and oceanography appealed to her. “There is so much collaboration across departments at the University, which surprised me,” said Leahy. “I’m used to ocean studies being very niche, but here it’s much more widespread.”

The support available at URI ultimately led Annabelle to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship. She attended an information session on the application process out of curiosity. There she found that the guidance from Kathleen D. Maher, director of URI’s Office of National Fellowships and Academic Opportunities, made her feel confident in applying.

“Kathleen Maher really helped guide me through the process. She had so much knowledge and experience that she brought to my application,” said Leahy. “Without needing to tailor my interests to a professor, funding, or a specific class, my studies became as interdisciplinary as I wanted them to be.”

Scholarships attract talented students from a variety of backgrounds to learn at URI. They allow them the freedom to focus on their studies and succeed. Annabelle is just one of the hardworking students who’ve benefited from financial support from the University. She was the recipient of the Kenelm W. Coons Marine Affairs Scholarship and the Davis Family Endowed Scholarship for Fisheries Oceanography.

Annabelle will continue to make a meaningful impact in her field and beyond as a Fulbright Scholar. She will travel to the European Union through the Fulbright Schuman Program to study EU affairs and policy at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Her research will focus on offshore wind initiatives, marine spatial planning tools, and other European environmental policies to understand how the U.S. might develop the industry in a way that reduces emissions, coexists with other industries, and minimizes harm to coastal ecosystems.

“My time at URI has taught me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” said Leahy. “Even if I don’t know everything, I know how to ask the right questions, consider everyone in our decision-making, and broaden my perspective to see the impact of our work.”