Alumna Julija Pivo wins Fulbright Teaching Fellowship to Lithuania

by Suzy Rigdon

Alumna Julija Pivo wins Fulbright Teaching Fellowship to Lithuania

Julija Pivo, 2020 graduate from Mason’s BFA program, has won a prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Fellowship to Lithuania, starting in Summer 2022. The award not only caps an impressive career at Mason, but also brings a family journey full circle: Pivo’s late father was a Fulbright scholar from Lithuania to America from 2000 - 2001.

Pivo immigrated with her family to the United States from Lithuania when she was eight years old, and has continually striven to understand the lives her family led there - first under the Soviet Union and then in independence. In 2019, Pivo received an OSCAR grant to travel and conduct interviews with Lithuanian women who immigrated to the US after the fall of the Soviet Union, then wrote her senior thesis which used these interviews as foundations for fictional stories. In 2020, Pivo was awarded the Aileen Walls Award for her academic work and commitment to the community.

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing in-person events to shutter, Pivo’s work with the Fall for the Book Festival, which began with her as a 2019 Marketing Intern - took a challenging but pivotal turn. Starting in 2020, she worked as Production Manager alongside Festival Manager Suzy Rigdon to quite literally bring the festival online. “Julija worked tirelessly with me to figure out not just how to pull off a major virtual festival, but how to do it professionally and with style,” says Rigdon. Over the course of two years, along with shooting and editing some of the YouTube Exclusive videos like Tales of Terror and Serving Up Some Love, Pivo also pioneered the festival’s TV-style, live virtual events by learning a swathe of new technologies. “We could not have had such a great two years- including the biggest event the festival has ever had with 5,000+ tuning in from around the region, nation, and world - without Julija. We are so excited for her next chapter, but will miss her insight, skills, and positivity.”

When asked about the award, Pivo said, "The Fulbright would not have been possible without the support of Mason’s faculty and staff. They continually encouraged me to explore and embrace my Lithuanian heritage and to grow as a student, writer, and learner."