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Monday, Nov 29, 2021

Mercer Senior earns prestigious Fulbright Scholarship

A Mercer senior was riding on the subway in Washington D.C. when he received news that would change his life.

The subway entered a tunnel before the email could fully load, so all it said was “Fulbright Thornton (P).” As Thornton Brewer looked at his phone, he wondered if the email would say, “I’m sorry,” “You were selected as an alternate,” or “Congratulations.”

The email loaded and Brewer said he read, “Dear Thornton Brewer, Congratulations!”

He broke down crying with gratitude while everyone on the subway watched as he reacted to the exciting news, said Caroline Carlton, a Mercer senior and friend of Brewer.

“I felt extremely relieved but I was totally surprised because from all accounts, I was not supposed to receive any note from the Fulbright until late February or early March,” Brewer said.

Brewer received the Fulbright Award to go to Berlin, Germany for a year to teach English. Berlin was his first choice, he said.

“It’s a great mix of both high culture and low culture and new architecture and old architecture as well as just a beautiful blending of millions of different kinds of people,” Brewer said.

Since many immigrants from Turkey come to Germany, there is turmoil between the cultures, Brewer said. He plans to get involved with non-profit organizations that deal with promoting peace and cultural understanding in Germany, he said.

Brewer will be required to spend 12 hours a week in the classroom which gives him extra time to explore the city and get involved in the community, Brewer said.

Brewer spent a year in Germany for his junior year of college and became even more enthusiastic about the culture, said Edward Weintraut, professor of German and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

“I’ve only had him in one class last semester but he’s a hard worker,” Weintraut said. “I work on a 24-hour clock. I think he has a 48 hour clock because he does so many different things and does them well.”

The application itself was about 13 pages long and required Brewer to answer three questions with three lines each, write a personal statement and a statement of grant purpose.

“I would sometimes dream about revisions,” Brewer said. “I would wake up and think, ‘Oh my gosh, that was a great sentence’ and I would write it down.”

He said he was also interviewed by five faculty members with Weintraut to discuss his application and give advice on ways to improve it.

He went through several revisions of his application before he submitted it one day before the deadline, Brewer said.

Weintraut said that although the application presents many challenges to students, many say its a good experience because all of the faculty members are working with you to get through it.

Caroline Carlton, a Mercer senior and friend of Brewer, said she remembers how Brewer worried over getting the Fullbright Award.

She said he is the most determined and driven person and always wants to be the best at everything.

“The coolest thing about him to me is like his faith because he’s like really really faithful and really really holds his friends accountable to be that way too,” Carlton said. “He’s a good one to have around.”


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