Please join us in congratulating Nan McEntire, who, under the banner of Fulbright, has successfully completed her 3400-mile coast-to-coast trek cycling across the United States. As a Fulbrighter to Ireland in 2010 who researched traditional tune acquisition in an ethnomusicology program at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, Nan has long been committed to giving back to Fulbright. In addition to serving as President of the Utah Chapter, Nan had the idea of using her love of cycling to raise funding and awareness for the Fulbright Association. Through flat and per-mile pledges, she was able to raise nearly $5,000 during her six-week journey.
“I decided to ride for Fulbright after hearing that I could link a cross country adventure to a non-profit of my choice,” says Nan. “Fulbright has been a very important part of my life, as a Fulbrighter and as president of the Utah Chapter, and I felt that raising money through an adventure like this one would be a good idea. It also helped motivate me to keep going when the ride was especially tough!”
At the age of 72, Nan is a veteran cyclist whose ambitious expedition garnered the excitement and support of Fulbrighters across the country, who both offered enthusiastic encouragement and pledged donations in her name.
“Nan is an inspiration!” commented Cassidy Jones. “Thank you for setting a great example–staying active and engaged and giving back!”
“Go, Nan, go!” offered Susan Brar. “Enjoy your journey, and congrats for raising money while you do something you love!”
The “Ride for Fulbright” was not Nan’s first claim to long-distance cycling. In 1976, she bought a one-way ticket to Zurich and embarked on her first long-distance journey. Spending nights camping or in youth hostels, Nan made her way across Europe with all her luggage – including a guitar – strapped on her 10-speed bike.
Her 2019 journey is her latest success, though it wasn’t always easy. Nan recounts that the biggest challenge was not the distance, but the wind. “When you have 80 or 90-mile days ahead of you and the wind is in your face – or, even worse, hitting you from the side and blowing you towards the traffic, well, that’s tough,” she says. “Kansas was really difficult for that reason. I remember wishing that the road would curve one way or the other, just to get a break from the wind.”
But on the other hand, Nan had a lot to keep her peddling. She enjoyed riding with a supportive group, and having the chance to see landmarks and nature across the states. The Fulbright community was there to support her the whole way – sometimes literally. Local Fulbright alumni and chapter communities met with Nan along the way to offer their best wishes as well as hospitality.
“What positive energy they sent my way,” says Nan. “No wonder I finished the ride!”
Most importantly, the experience gave Nan the opportunity to think about what Fulbright meant to her, and strengthen her resolve for dedicating her ride to the Program.
“I did this ride with the Fulbright logo pinned to my back, so of course this led to having people ask me about it. Their inquiries helped me articulate what Fulbright was all about,” reflects Nan. “Here’s a brief story: I had stopped for an ice cream at a local spot called Dipper Dan in Upstate New York. The owner noticed my logo and asked about Fulbright. I told her about the important international friendships that result from an opportunity to teach or to study overseas. She told me that if I was representing an organization that helped to promote world peace, then I could have my ice cream cone for free!”
Nan’s journey garnered attention at several local news stations, and she was interviewed several times by reporters along the way. The Crawfordsville Journal Review explored her journey, and she was interviewed by KTVO News in Kirksville, Missouri.
The Fulbright Association would like to thank both Nan and the community for all of its support.
If you would still like to donate in Nan McEntire’s name, please click here and write your pledge message in the comments box.