Chattanoogan: Jacqueline Adams Thrilled To Be Fulbright Scholar

Sunday, May 20, 2018 - by John Shearer
Jacqueline Adams
Jacqueline Adams

One of Jacqueline Adams’ passions is studying people.

“I am interested in how people work and why they do what they do,” she said.

Recently, she had a chance to study herself and how she reacted to a memorable moment in her own life to date – learning she had won a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.

“I immediately called my mom and started crying,” she said with excitement about the spontaneous reaction. “It was so exciting. It was so much work putting together the application.”

Ms. Adams, a 2013 graduate of Baylor School and 2017 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, will be heading to Budapest, Hungary, in September to study in part the psychology behind energy use.

“I will be doing research on how to get customers to adopt smart-meter technology,” she said.

The scholarship, which allows recipients to study, do research or teach abroad through the U.S. State Department-sponsored grant program founded by former U.S. Sen. William Fulbright, is quite respected due to the heavy competition for it.

But as the daughter of Fletcher Bright Co. employees Jack and Jan Adams said during an interview in Knoxville, it was not really on her mind until recently, at least in terms of seeing herself as one of the scholars.

“It was not on my radar until last summer,” she said with a laugh.

Her interest changed when Andrew Seidler, the director of UT’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, sent out an email to recent graduates in the UT Honors Program about it and what all it encompassed.

Since Ms. Adams loved to do research, she figured she should try.

In filling out the detailed application, she was able to plod through the planned research, but it was the more personal aspects and reflections that she found challenging. However, through the encouragement of the coach-like Dr. Seidler – who has seen 19 former UT students receive the scholarship this year and offered her much personal encouragement – she was able to complete the application adequately.

“I would write something and thought it was good, but Andrew would say it was not personal enough,” she said.

But the personal touch on her application eventually paid off, as she learned she had been named a semi-finalist. She was told she would find out via email anytime from mid-March through May if she had been named a Fulbright Scholar.

Then one day, she received an email with the word “CONGRATULATIONS” in the body. Yes, it was in all caps!

She had not only reached a new level of academic accomplishment, but she was also getting ready to go to an entirely different time zone.

While in Hungary, she is scheduled to do research through the Budapest University of Technology and Economics and use surveys to help gain better perspectives on the barriers people have in using smart technology in their energy use.

“I’m using psychology and theories from psychology to better understand what’s going to make residents in Hungary adopt energy savings measures,” she said.

Since graduating from UT in 2017 after going through the Chancellor’s Honors Program, she has been doing related type work with Dr. Chien-Fei Chen with the UT Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks.

She is housed in the Min H. Kao Building on the UT campus just down the hill from Ayres Hall, near World’s Fair Park.

Raised in the East Brainerd area near Hamilton Place Mall, Ms. Adams first became interested in studying people by serving them. After she enrolled at Baylor as a sixth-grader in 2006, she eventually became involved in the community service program there headed up by Joli Anderson.

“She was phenomenal,” said Ms. Adams, who was involved in everything from tutoring children after school to taking service trips to places like Jamaica. “She made it the success it was for sure.”

And now, in a yearlong program before likely heading off to graduate school to study public policy, she is getting ready to take another service trip of sorts as well, but one with a little more personal prestige.

“I’m so excited. It’s kind of finally set in,” she said.

Click here for Jacqueline Adams discussing how she learned she had been named a Fulbright Scholar.

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