Speaking Globally: The importance of the Fulbright Specialist Program

The Fulbright Specialist Program is a prestigious part of the larger Fulbright Program. Established in 2001 by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the initiative brings together distinguished academics and leaders with host institutions around the world. The goal is for these accomplished people to share their knowledge as part of a larger cultural exchange, hopefully increasing global relationships, entrepreneurial opportunity, and making the world a better place.

Fulbright Specialist Scholars are matched with an institution in one of 150 countries overseas, partnering with hosts to provide education, support, and thought leadership according to their priorities and goals.

Recently, I learned I will join the 2020 class of Fulbright Specialist Scholars:

“Rubicon’s model for improving waste efficiency will serve to teach and inspire future leaders,” said Heather Nauert, former acting Undersecretary for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy and Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State. “Nate will be an excellent ambassador for American innovation.”

I am almost beyond words to describe how much of a privilege it is to join this amazing program, and I welcome the opportunity to share my experiences creating a mission-driven business and working with some of the world’s leading visionaries, business leaders, and investors with my host institution.

Being selected as a Fulbright Specialist Scholar is an incredible honor. Not everyone who applies gets into the program. In fact, it is a privilege merely to be considered for the program. Specialists are selected in a competitive process based on their knowledge, skill sets, and ability to make a significant contribution to projects overseas. To be selected as a Fulbright specialist is to be chosen as a representative of one’s field of study or area of expertise, and to represent that focus to the world beyond our borders.

That the Fulbright Program has deemed me worthy of inclusion in this program is an honor almost beyond measure. 

This is an exciting and rewarding three-year commitment and an opportunity to be a short-term, on-demand resource for my host, wherever that takes me. They call, I answer, and bring with me the lessons learned from almost a decade of running Rubicon. My hope is that these lessons will be invaluable to budding entrepreneurs looking to use business to solve some of the most pressing challenges in their country.

I am incredibly honored to join the roster of Fulbright Specialist Scholars, which includes 86 Pulitzer Prize winners; 75 MacArthur Fellows; 60 Nobel Prize winners; 37 heads of state or governments; 10 members of the U.S. Congress; and one secretary general of the United Nations.

Growing up and attending public school in Kentucky, I never would have imagined I would be able to say I was a part of such a prestigious program. When I think back on all that has led to this moment, I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. I look forward to sharing my experiences in the future as I undertake this great challenge.

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