SEC finalist Riley VanMeter is one of 13 recent University of Alabama students to receive a 2023-2024 Fulbright award. He was specifically chosen for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) Award to teach English in Spain.
VanMeter graduated summa cum laude, meaning with a GPA of 3.9 or higher, from Alabama in May. He majored in both Spanish and international studies, minored in Italian language and literature, and earned a master’s degree in romance linguistics. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in romance linguistics at Cal Berkeley as well, focusing on Spanish, Italian, Latin, and French.
VanMeter is one of three Alabama students to be chosen to teach English in Spain alongside graduate student Madelyn Kloske, a former member of the Alabama women’s rowing team, and Marie Moore, a secondary education and Spanish major. He is a four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll recipient.
As a senior, VanMeter placed 37th in the 100 fly and 32nd in the 200 fly with season-best times at the 2023 SEC Championships. He placed the highest at SECs in 2021 as a sophomore when he earned 22nd place in the 200 fly to score points in the ‘C’ final. That year, he was named a CSCAA Honorable Mention Scholar All-American.
VanMeter grew up training with Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics in Michigan. While swimming for Holland Christian High School, he was a five-time state championship finalist in the 100 fly and 100 back.
The Fulbright program is a cultural exchange program that grants scholarships to about 2,000 American students to research, study, or teach for one academic year (eight to 10 months) annually. The program was created in 1946, soon after the end of World War II, and was funded by the United States Congress to “fund the promotion of international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science.” U.S. Fulbright recipients are eligible to travel to more than 135 countries.
The English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) program that VanMeter was chosen for places recipients in classrooms of varying age ranges, from kindergarten to university level, to aid local English teachers. There were 170 ETA grants available in Spain during this application cycle, ranging from rural areas to the capital Madrid and regional cities.