N.C. A&T Student Receives Fulbright Fellowship
As a child, Zainab Ali watched the morning news with her father and paid close attention to the weather report.
“I like the weather – it’s cool,” she said. “I used to have a fear of thunderstorms and I had to learn ‘what’s actually happening.’ I love storms now.”
Her interest in weather led her to attend a meteorology summer camp at North Carolina A&T State University and ultimately enroll as a student. Four years later, Ali is the university’s fourth student to receive a prestigious Fulbright fellowship.
Ali, 22, is the recipient of the UK-Fulbright Fellowship award. She will spend the 2017-18 academic years pursing her master of science in applied meteorology at the University of Reading in Reading, Berkshire in the United Kingdom. While she has traveled to the U.K. before, she is looking forward to immersing herself.
“The British are different and I want to get to know the culture,” she said. “It will be different living there versus seeing it as a tourist.”
In addition to the culture, Ali is also looking forward to research opportunities. The study of severe weather of the region will help the aspiring forecaster learn more about her craft.
“The U.S. and the U.K. are two different regions and I want to learn what happens in those different regions when severe weather happens,” Ali said. “Weather varies here from state to state so I know it is going to be differences between the U.K. and the U.S.”
In her time at N.C. A&T, Ali did not participate in study abroad but she says her entire childhood was a study abroad experience. When she was 3 years old, the Atlanta, Georgia-born Ali moved with her parents to Africa and the Middle East living in Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates until she was 18.
“Coming to A&T for college was a culture shock. I had to get used to how things were done, how things are said and how people are,” she said. “I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself.”
With most of her dad’s family in Greensboro and many of them being A&T alumni, Ali decided to not only attend the family school, she made the most of her time. In her sophomore year, she was awarded the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions undergraduate scholarship.
The program provides scholarships for rising juniors majoring in STEM fields that relate directly to NOAA’s mission. Students receive up to $45,000 in total support that includes travel and conference participation as well as two internships – one at NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, and one at another facility in the U.S. Ali spent her summer in Boulder, Colorado.
She has also received scholarship funding from the American Meteorological Society and the Department of Physics, which houses her major, meteorology and atmospheric sciences.
Ali has also been involved in several campus organizations including Aggie Ambassadors as well as the Society of Physics Students, African Aggies – where she serves on the executive boards – and the Meteorology Club and the Muslim Student Association where she is the president.
After completing her fellowship, Ali would like to work with NOAA National Weather Service as an operational forecaster and eventually earn her doctorate.
The UK-Fulbright Fellowship awards 47 partnership awards to various universities throughout the United Kingdom. For Ali’s award, the Fulbright Commission sought applicants who demonstrate:
- Rigor in scholarly enquiry and academic or professional excellence
- Strong reasons for wishing to pursue the proposed project at the particular institution
- A desire to gain a better understanding of the peoples and cultures of their host country
- A commitment to the community through volunteer and extra-curricular activities
- Flexibility and dynamism necessary for active involvement in the host country