Joel Runnells, a doctoral student in the Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program in the department of Theory and Practice in Education, has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award for the 2017-2018 academic year. Runnells, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, will be going to Ghana to collaborate with the University of Ghana and the Ghana National Association of the Deaf to research the historical foundations of deaf education in Africa through the story of Andrew Foster. Foster, a deaf African American from Alabama went to Africa in 1957 and stayed 30 years, launching 32 schools for the deaf across 13 nations. Runnels will be interviewing some of Foster’s students to preserve their stories. “Because most of Foster’s students are at the end of their lives, these stories would otherwise be lost,” he said.
Runnells is one of eight UT students to be offered an award for 2017-2018. Andrew Seidler, director of UT’s Office of National Scholarship and Fellowships, said this was a record-setting year for UT in the Fulbright Student Program, with the largest number of awards offered and semi-finalists (18) in UT history.