Here’s a round-up of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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W&L, JMU make list for most Fulbright students

Two Virginia colleges have made the list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2021-2022 Fulbright U.S. Students for the fourth consecutive year. Each year, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces the top producing institutions for the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program.

Washington and Lee University tied for fourth place among bachelor’s institutions.

  1. Bowdoin College, Maine 15
  2. Williams College, Massachusetts 12
  3. (tie)Amherst College, Massachusetts, and Davidson College, North Carolina 10
  4. Oberlin College, Ohio, and Washington and Lee University, Virginia 9

This year’s ranking is W&L’s highest ever among top producing Fulbright institutions.

Six students and three alumni from W&L received Fulbright awards for academic year 2021-2022:

  • Rosalie Bull ’20 received a Fulbright creative grant to write eco-poetry about a series of permaculture parks along the Amazon river in northeastern Ecuador.
  • Amanda Dorsey ’21 received a Fulbright-Nehru open study/research award to complete a nine-month project in India investigating intervention service access for individuals with disabilities.
  • Ramonah Gibson ’20 received a Fulbright United Kingdom (U.K.) Partnership Award to complete her master’s degree in creative writing scriptwriting at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.
  • Kathryn “KT” Hensler ’21 received a Fulbright to complete an independent research project on the critically endangered fan mussel in Calpe, Spain.
  • Julia Poppenberg ’19 received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Argentina.
  • James Ricks ’21 received a Fulbright creative grant to photograph patients and health-care providers at a one-of-a-kind health clinic in rural Odanaku, Nepal.
  • Lorena Terroba Urruchua ’21 received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain, specifically in the autonomous community of Galicia.
  • Christopher Watt ’21 received a Fulbright grant to support his research on the importance of small-scale fishing for livelihoods, culture and well-being in Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific.
  • Doan Bui ’21 was offered but declined a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Germany.

 W&L students and alumni have received 25 Fulbright grants in the last four years.

Among schools with master’s degrees, James Madison University tied for fourth.

  1. (tie) CUNY Hunter College, New York, and University of North Georgia, Georgia 7
  2. Saint Edward’s University, Texas 6
  3. James Madison University, Virginia 4

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Virginia Tech receives Anthem Award for Black College Institute

Virginia Tech’s Black College Institute, a four-day summer academic enrichment program for talented rising high school juniors and seniors, has received a silver Anthem Award in the special projects category. 

In its inaugural year, the Anthem Awards is considered the largest social impact award in the world, receiving nearly 2,500 entries from 36 countries worldwide.

The Black College Institute isesigned to ensure that underrepresented and/or first-generation prospective students are aware of opportunities at Virginia Tech. Free of charge to students, the competitive program, which received more than 1,200 applications in 2021, is managed by Enrollment Management and the Office for Inclusion and Diversity.

The program has grown from from 68 participants in 2017 to 520 in the 2021 BCI virtual program in 2021. The students experience campus life by eating in the dining halls and staying in the residence halls while exploring Virginia Tech’s departments and organizations, according to a release from Virginia Tech.

Since its inception, BCI has contributed to an increase in the number of Black students who matriculate at the university, from 4.5% of the entering freshman class in 2017 to 8.8% in 2021.

This year, there will be two in-person BCI sessions for high school seniors, June 19-23 and June 26-30, and a virtual BCI for high school juniors, June 12-15. Get more information on BCI.

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Forest Service to hold prescribed burns in Montgomery and Wythe

The U.S. Forest Service will conduct prescribed burns Tuesday, March 1 in Montgomery County and Wythe County.

About the Montgomery County burn:

Location: This 46-acre burn will take place in the grassy fields of the Caldwell Fields Group Campground and Day Use Area located between Craig Creek Road (State Route 621) and the east side of Sinking Creek Mountain.

Date and Time: The Forest Service plans to begin ignitions on March 1, 2022, if weather conditions are appropriate. This prescribed burn will be completed in one day. Firefighters will continue to monitor the area for several days after the burn.  

Objective: The goal of this prescribed burn is to maintain the open, grassy fields where a diverse mix of grasses, plants and wildflowers grow.

Additional Information: The smoke may temporarily impact visibility along Craig Creek Road. Smoke may linger in the Craig Creek drainage during or after the burn. Residents and travelers in surrounding areas will see or smell smoke. Smoke may be visible from Blacksburg.

About the Wythe County burn:

Location: This prescribed burn will take place 3.5 miles north of Rural Retreat, Virginia and 3.5 miles north of Interstate 81. 

Date and Time: Forest Service fire specialists will begin the 286-acre burn tomorrow, March 1, 2022, as long as weather conditions are appropriate. The ignition-phase will be concluded within one day. You may see smoke from this prescribed burn for several days.

Purpose: This burn will improve wildlife habitat by restoring open woodlands and grasslands to the forest landscape.

 Additional Information and Road/Trail Closures: Smoke may be visible from Interstate 81 for the duration of the burn. Crawfish Road (Forest Service Road #727) may be temporarily closed.

For your safety, please follow posted signs and comply with road closures when they occur. For the most up-to-date information visit the inciweb site: