Two University of Iowa undergraduates have been awarded the competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, to study abroad this spring.
Chosen from thousands of applicants from colleges and universities across the U.S., Gilman scholarship recipients receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to diversify the students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages, and economies -- making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.
Omar Khodor, a Sioux City, Iowa, native, and a fourth-year environmental science major minoring in Arabic language, will be participating in the TEAN Monash University program in Melbourne, Australia, in spring 2019.
While in Australia, Khodor hopes to observe different ecological and environmental policies in practice as related to his degree.
"The continent of Australia has evolved an interesting set of ecosystems and organisms," said Khodor. "As an environmental science major, I'm particularly interested in how these ecosystems are responding to added anthropogenic pressures. Studying abroad will provide a different perspective on how other parts of the world are responding to their own unique environmental challenges and exposure to different dimensions of this issue will allow me to bring my learned knowledge into policy and practice in the United States."
In addition to furthering his environmental studies, Khodor also foresees this experience as a great opportunity for personal growth.
"I envision myself becoming more adaptive to unfamiliar situations and growing as an independent citizen and contributor to society."
Sophia Ross, a third-year English and creative writing major from Des Moines, Iowa, will use her Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in Dublin, Ireland, during the 2019 spring semester.
Ross's decision to study in Ireland was initially inspired by a life-long interest in Irish culture.
"When I was in junior high, I was absolutely obsessed with all things Irish: music, dancing, language, and, of course, potatoes," said Ross. "When I was considering where to go, Ireland was the first country that popped into my mind, and when I found a program that I knew would work, I absolutely had to choose it to let little sixth grade Sophie live on."
As for how this experience will impact her English and writing degrees, Ross added "I'm really interested in myth retelling. Celtic mythology is an absolute gold mine of new stories for me to re-imagine, and I'm so excited to learn more about the subject."
Ross added, "studying abroad is important to me because I find it absolutely imperative to the human experience to learn about and understand cultures and backgrounds different from one's own--and I don't know any better way to do so than to spend months immersed into a different culture."
To learn more about the Gilman Scholarship Program, visit: https://international.uiowa.edu/gilman-scholarship