As a Fulbright scholar, Lehigh ISE major and student-athlete Brooke Cannon ’24 will pursue grad studies in Greece, combining her engineering skills and mindset with her passion for preserving wildlife and the environment

Brooke Cannon’s path to landing a Fulbright scholarship started, in part, with a baby deer named Juicy. 

The fawn’s mother had been hit by a car, and the newborn lay on the side of the road, covered with insects.

“My dad saw it and brought it home, and we fed it goat milk and basically tried to do everything for her that her mother would have done,” says Cannon, a senior majoring in industrial and systems engineering (ISE). “And when she was old enough, we were able to release her into the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, which is less than a mile from my house, and where she was able to lead a normal deer life.” 

The experience of raising and releasing Juicy so close to her home in Virginia Beach played a big role in Cannon’s application to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, one of the best-known and prestigious scholarships in the world. The program provides opportunities for learning, research, or teaching English abroad in more than 140 countries. Cannon applied to study for a Master of Science in Sustainable Tourism Development, Cultural Heritage, Environment, and Society at Harokopio University in Athens, Greece (pictured above).

“I have so many good memories of hiking, camping, and doing cleanups in the refuge, and I loved that we were able to release Juicy into this wild, safe place to roam around,” says Cannon. “But there’s a lot of controversy between developers, homeowners, and the wildlife refuge over the land right now. When I saw the sustainable tourism program in Greece, I immediately thought it would give me the skills I need to go back to my hometown and help solve some of these problems.”

It’s a program and a path that a year ago, Cannon never could have foreseen taking. But as a junior, she attended a seminar offered by Outreach ISE, a program designed to raise undergraduates’ awareness of opportunities in industrial and systems engineering. On that particular day, Jennifer Marangos, an advisor in the Office of Fellowship Advising, was giving a presentation on the different international scholarships and fellowships available to undergraduate students.

“At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation, and I’m so glad I went to that seminar,” says Cannon, who is also a student-athlete—a center fielder on the Lehigh softball team. “The more I learned about the Fulbright, like the fact that I could choose where I wanted to study, the more it appealed to me. I was able to make a personal connection with Jennifer that same day, and she ended up being my advisor throughout the process.”

Cannon initially met with Marangos and with several of her professors to help her determine where in the world she wanted to go and what she wanted to study. She eventually landed on Greece—for its sustainable tourism program, its own successes and struggles to accommodate mass tourism, its beauty, and its proximity to the rest of Europe.

One challenge, however, was to make the connection between her ISE major and tourism. For that, she turned to Ana Alexandrescu, a professor of practice who directs both the Healthcare Systems Engineering Program and the Lehigh ISE Outreach Program.

“She helped me see that the systematic problem-solving we use in ISE can be used to address issues around tourism. Yes, it’s a different kind of problem with different constraints, but the approach to solving it can be similar.”

It was in those meetings that Cannon also tapped into her deep love and concern for the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, and what it means to the people and creatures around her community. Once she made the connection between that and the skills she’d honed over the past four years as an ISE student, it all came together. 

“I found the problem that I was passionate about solving, and I realized I had a unique skill set that could help me solve it. And that’s how Juicy became such a big part of my application.”

The essay, however, is just one part of a rigorous application process that demands academic excellence, integrity, and initiative. Cannon has made the Dean’s List every semester while at Lehigh, and has received numerous honors such as the Industrial and Systems Engineering Sophomore of the Year (and most recently, Senior of the Year). She was chosen along with a classmate to attend the IISE Annual Conference in New Orleans and attend a symposium as a representative of Lehigh ISE. She also serves as the President for the IISE Student Chapter 864. 

“There’s also an ambassadorial element to the Fulbright award,” says Marangos. “Those reviewing the applications are looking for evidence that the candidate they select will be a strong representative of the United States at their host institution and in their host country. This is where Brooke’s soft skills elevated her as an applicant. She radiates openness and positivity in a way that makes her easily approachable.”

After deciding to apply for a Fulbright in Greece, Cannon did everything she could to learn more about her potential host country, says Marangos. She connected over LinkedIn with a Greek scholar who had graduated from the same program, read his research publications, and initiated discussions about those papers with him over email. She started studying Greek by listening to podcasts and movies, and by following the professional Greek softball team’s championship season. She even began coordinating with language exchange meetups in Athens that she could join. 

“Learning about the program and country you’re targeting is also part of the application process,” says Marangos. “And Brooke made a serious effort to do that before she even hit send on her application.”

The day Cannon got the email from the U.S. Fulbright Program, she waited to open it until she was alone in her room with just her sister on FaceTime.

“I was thinking, This could either be really fun or really not fun,” she says about her sister watching over her over the phone. “But when I opened the email and saw that I had been accepted, she got all these screenshots of me with my hands over my face, mouth wide open, crying. She got it all. So that was pretty cool.” 

Cannon will return home to Virginia Beach after graduation this spring, and will begin the two-semesters-long master’s program in Greece in October. For now, she is still in a state of disbelief. 

“I don’t think it’ll feel real until I’m on the plane,” she says. “And there is no way I would be going without the support I’ve had from Lehigh, especially from my professors. They were always there to help me when I had questions, and when I was feeling unsure of myself. I had the skills and the grades. I played a sport. I had so much of the background that you need for something like this, but they helped me pull it all together in a meaningful way.”

Brooke Cannon

Lehigh ISE major and student-athlete Brooke Cannon ’24 will will study for a Master of Science in Sustainable Tourism Development, Cultural Heritage, Environment, and Society at Harokopio University in Athens, Greece, through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Photos courtesy of

Jennifer Marangos

Jennifer Marangos, Fellowship Advisor, Office of Fellowship Advising

Ana I. Alexandrescu

Ana I. Alexandrescu, Professor of Practice, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering; Director, Healthcare Systems Engineering Program; Director, Lehigh ISE Outreach Program

[Professor Alexandrescu] helped me see that the systematic problem-solving we use in ISE can be used to address issues around tourism. Yes, it’s a different kind of problem with different constraints, but the approach to solving it can be similar.
Brooke Cannon ’24