Alumni Profiles

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Class of 2016 - Gray Barrett



Gray M. Barrett has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship for research in Norway. He will be completing the first year of a two-year master’s degree program in theory and practice of human rights at the University of Oslo.

The Maryville, Tenn., native majored in political science and international studies with a minor at economics at UNC Asheville.

“This Fulbright will be a continuation of my study of human rights, which I have cultivated through numerous courses here at UNC Asheville and through my work-study with Drs. Cornett and Gibney in the political science department,” said Barrett. “I will use an interdisciplinary approach, which I gained from my time here, to help further understand the connections between human rights, politics, and the modern welfare state.”

Barrett has cultivated his interest in human rights and Scandinavian political models over many years; following his sophomore year of high school, he was accepted into an International Baccalaureate program in Norway at the United World College – Red Cross Nordic where he spent the following two years. At UNC Asheville, he was a Laurels Scholar, securing a full scholarship for his undergraduate studies. He served as the vice president of the UNC Asheville Rotaract Club and is a member of the Honors Society and the National Political Science Honor Society Pi Sigma Alpha.  He spent a summer in Washington, D.C., working for an international consulting firm as well as the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University).

He sums up his experience as “transformative,” saying, “My life path has altered immeasurably since I first set foot on campus, but it has changed for the better. I have learned much about scholarship, being a better citizen, and fighting for what’s right during my time here — much more than I ever thought I would…. This school and the people within it, along with my family, have supported that change. I could not have undergone this transformation without their support.”

As Barrett gets ready for his next step, he’s packing lightly but warmly, with hiking boots and wool clothes included on his list of necessities. He makes the return trip to Norway in August 2016.

“Political science is about so much more than people voting or democracy or politics,” said Barrett. “For me, at least, it’s about understanding motivation, persuasion, power, influence, and human nature.”

Barrett is the 44th UNC Asheville graduate selected for a Fulbright award. UNC Asheville has been recognized as a top producer of Fulbright Scholars among bachelor’s institutions, with three faculty and staff awarded grants in 2015-16.