Collection of photos of the four Fulbright recipients.
Fulbright recipients include (from left) Miri Villerius '23, Ayla Walther '23, Jonathan Bass '24, and Gunner Bauer '23. 

One Lawrence University student and three 2023 graduates have been named 2024 Fulbright Scholars, a prestigious honor that provides funding to study or teach abroad.

The four recipients in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program are senior Jonathan Bass, a double degree student in music performance (piano) and French and francophone studies, and three members of the Class of 2023: Gunner Bauer, who majored in government and Russian studies; Miri Villerius, who was a music and religious studies double major; and Ayla Walther, who recently received her teacher certification with plans to teach German.

This is the largest number of Fulbright recipients for Lawrence since 2018.

"I am so proud of our four awardees and of all the applicants this year,” said Claire Kervin, assistant professor of English and director of fellowships advising. “The high number of finalists reflects a growing Fulbright culture on campus: Lawrentians have been applying in increasing numbers, writing excellent applications that demonstrate their excitement and preparation for cultural exchange."

The awards mark a continuation of success for Lawrentians in the Fulbright program—63 Fulbright scholars over the past four-plus decades. Among the highest scholarship honors in the world, the Fulbright comes from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, offering applicants the opportunity to study, teach English, or conduct research abroad. Seven Lawrentians made it to the semifinalist round this year.

Jonathan Bass '24

Jonathan Bass poses for a photo outside on the Lawrence campus.
Jonathan Bass '24 (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Bass, of Greenville, Wisconsin, received the Fulbright-Harriet Hale Woolley Award in the Arts. He will enroll in the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris to pursue a graduate degree in piano performance. He will live in Paris at the Fondation des Etats-Unis, where he will collaborate with other artists in residence there.

“I spent the fall of 2022 abroad in Paris, and my only regret was that I didn’t have more time—so I’m absolutely thrilled that I get to go back,” Bass said. “Paris has such an incredibly rich musical and cultural life; one could spend weeks on end just wandering through some of the art museums—important because visual art and music are often intertwined in surprising ways. And, on any given night, there are concerts of every genre of music you can imagine.”

At the Ecole Normale, Bass will study with Professor David Lively, who taught him privately while in Paris in 2022. Catherine Kautsky, the George and Marjorie Olsen Chandler Professor of Music at Lawrence, connected Bass with Lively.

“He is a really wonderful teacher,” Bass said. “I’m excited to work with him again.”

Bass, who will graduate in June, called Lawrence a “perfect fit.”

“It was high-level music study within the context of a well-rounded liberal education that taught me so much more than just how to play fast notes on the piano,” he said. “In particular, professors Michael Mizrahi, Dominica Chang, and Cathy Kautsky have regularly gone out of their way to open doors for me—and then to give me advice about how best to walk through those doors.”

Gunner Bauer '23

Gunner Bauer talks with friends during his senior year.
Gunner Bauer '23 (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Bauer is headed to Slovakia, where he will teach English. He said the pursuit of a Fulbright was a goal since arriving at Lawrence.

“I actually chose to go to Lawrence after Professor (Victoria) Kononova told me about the Fulbright during a visit, and thus began four years of studying Russian and international relations,” he said.

Bauer spent a term abroad in Kyrgyzstan. Since graduating last June, he has been working in his hometown of Menomonie, Wisconsin, while writing and translating for Argentics, a Ukrainian software company. 

Miri Villerius '23

Miri Villerius plays the piano during a klezmer performance her senior year..
Miri Villerius '23 

Villerius’ Fulbright award will allow her to work as an English teacher's assistant in southern Italy for nine months. She will work with a high school English class while engaging with the surrounding community.

“I'm excited about this opportunity because of how much enrichment I've gotten from Italian language and culture throughout my life,” Villerius said. “If I had never learned Italian, I would be a completely different person. Living in Italy for an extended period to try and return that favor by teaching my own mother tongue is a beautifully reciprocal opportunity.”

Villerius said her four years at Lawrence prepared her to embrace such opportunities.

“The fact that I got to pivot my studies as much as I did while still building a lot of real practical skills was wonderful, especially in the company of a lot of impactful mentors and wonderful friends I made there and am still in touch with,” she said.

After graduating last June, Villerius worked as an intern with the Center for Deep Listening in Troy, New York, before moving to Chicago. She is working in food service and as a freelance journalist and has started her own publication, Oyer, focused on Jewish music. As an undergrad, she was among a group of Lawrence students who explored klezmer music.

Ayla Walther '23

Ayla Walther headshot
Ayla Walther '23

Walther’s Fulbright journey will take her to Bavaria, Germany, where she will work as an English teacher assistant. 

“Outside of the classroom, I plan on participating and engaging with the community as much as possible,” Walther said. “I plan to join a local sport group and connect with individuals that way, as well as travel and see as much of Germany and Europe as possible. I also really want to use this experience to polish my German skills in preparation of being a German teacher when I return.”

Walther said she’s been dreaming of this opportunity since her high school days in Wausau, Wisconsin.

“As someone who has essentially dedicated my career to pursuing German studies, I see this as a fantastic opportunity to continue to improve not only my German language skills but also develop a deeper understanding of German culture to bring back to the classroom and share with my future students,” she said.

Walther, who graduated from Lawrence in June, completed her student teaching in German and social studies at Ashwaubenon High School earlier this year. She received her teaching license from the State of Wisconsin in early spring and is working as a substitute teacher in Ashwaubenon and Green Bay. 

Want to know more about the Fulbright? Lawrence students interested in applying for a Fulbright award or other fellowships should reach out to Claire Kervin, assistant professor of English and director of fellowships advising.