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Jayla Pope Study Abroad

Recent Morgan State Graduate Jayla Pope Awarded Highly Coveted Fulbright Scholarship

by Morgan State U
July 01, 2024

Newly named Fulbright Scholar Adds to University’s Impressive Leadership Among HBCUs


BALTIMORE—Morgan State University, Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, increased its status among HBCU leaders in producing highly-coveted Fulbright Scholarship awardees with the announcement of its 2024-2025 Fulbright U.S. Student Award. A Spring 2023 graduate, Jayla Pope, has the distinction of becoming the University’s latest Fulbright scholarship awarded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). To date, Morgan has received 67 U.S. Student Awards, allowing students  to study, teach or conduct research internationally in more than 25 countries. Pope is one of 329 Fulbright scholarships awarded to U.S. college students studying abroad for the upcoming academic year.

Pope, an alumna of Morgan’s Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management (SBM), earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management with a minor in Spanish and will continue her advanced degree studies abroad participating in the Fulbright Binational Business Program in Mexico City, Mexico. A native of South Bend, Ind., Pope will pursue graduate-level International Business courses at ITAM (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México) and intern at a Mexican business.

“Jayla Pope exemplifies the academic excellence and global engagement we strive to instill and actively nurture in our students at the National Treasure. We want our students to prosper having a global perspective anchored in community sensibility and sensitivity,” said David K. Wilson, president of Morgan. “Her selection as a Fulbright Scholar is a testament to her dedication and the exceptional opportunities available at Morgan. We are confident she will continue to make significant contributions in her future endeavors.”

Jayla PopeFulbright represents one of many academic awards and distinctions Pope has accumulated during her matriculation at Morgan. In 2022, she was awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a highly competitive scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The opportunity funded an immersive study abroad experience at the Universidad Del Mar (UMAR) in Oaxaca, Mexico, where Pope furthered her study in Spanish and sparked her interest in Mexico and Mexican culture.

“I think culturally (studying abroad) just made me way more aware, learning about cultural diversity, being in these types of spaces,” said Pope. “It has opened up doors for other opportunities. And so I’m very grateful for the experiences.”

During her undergraduate years, Pope also gained invaluable experience interning with various businesses and serving as an Immigrant Integration Specialist at Casa de Maryland through an AmeriCorps internship, assisting local Latine community members with tax filings. This summer, she is teaching ESOL (English as a Second Language) classes to non-native English speakers at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC). After her Fulbright year, she plans to pursue an MBA with a concentration in Human Resources, aspiring to work for an international company.

Megan DeVirgilis, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish and the newly appointed Fulbright Program Director at Morgan, added: “Jayla’s journey from her Gilman Scholarship experience to becoming a Fulbrighter highlights the transformative power of international education and dedicated language of study. Her commitment to her studies and community service is truly inspiring, and I look forward to seeing the impact she will have in the global business arena.”

Pope credits Morgan faculty and staff who have supported her journey toward attaining the Fulbright scholarship. Acknowledging Dr. DeVirgilis and Gonzalo Baptista, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish, for “writing letters of recommendation to prepping me for the Spanish interviews” and Moriah Ray, director of the Office of Study Abroad in the Division of International Affairs at Morgan, for helping to manifest the dream with unbridled encouragement.

Jayla Pope

“I really want to represent Morgan because it’s such a great school. Morgan has so many resources. And I’m very excited. I can’t wait to come back and try to recruit more people. Because Morgan has so much talent. We can have (many) more Fulbrighters. I’m 100% sure of that.”

The Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. Fulbright recipients are selected based on academic or professional achievement and demonstrated leadership potential. The Program operates in over 160 countries and supports various academic and professional opportunities abroad.

Morgan State University has a distinguished history with the Fulbright Program and was named a “Fulbright Top Producer” by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for the fourth consecutive year. In addition to boasting 67 U.S. Student Awards which ranks among the top of all HBCUs, the University has received 30 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Awards, two Fulbright Specialist Awards, and eight Fulbright-Hays Awards. This summer, a Fulbright-Hays cohort from Morgan traveled to Bogota, Colombia, to participate in a group project entitled “Colombia: Youth Social, Political and Civic Engagement, Peace Building, and National Reconciliation.”

In recent months, Morgan faculty have been honored to receive Fulbright-related awards for their research and advanced study abroad. Yacob Astatke, D. Eng., assistant vice president for International Affairs, received a grant to participate in the Fulbright International Education Administrators (IEA) Program in France. Krishna Bista Ed.D., professor of Higher Education in the School of Education and Urban Studies’ (SEUS) Department of Advanced Studies, Leadership and Policy at Morgan, completed a two-week visit to the University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) in Australia as a Fulbright Specialist. In May, Hakeem Ibikunle Tijani, Ph.D., executive director for the Office of Global Partnerships-Africa within the Division of International Affairs, was awarded the Fulbright Specialist Program to the Afro-American University of Central Africa (AAUCA) in Oyala, Equatorial Guinea for a yearlong fellowship.

In addition, Morgan has hosted Visiting Fulbright Scholars from Nigeria, Sudan, Morocco, and India, and will welcome another Scholar-in-Residence from Spain in the upcoming academic year. Under Dr. DeVirgilis’ leadership, Morgan has inaugurated an annual “Fulbright Week” each April to support and inform students and scholars about the application process.

About Morgan

Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified high research (R2) institution offering more than 150 academic degree and certificate programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, and the only university to have its entire campus designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit


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Media Contacts:

Dell Jackson or Cheryl Stewart, for Morgan State University PR