Thursday, June 2, 2022

Chosen from thousands of applicants from colleges and universities across the U.S., 12 University of Iowa undergraduates were awarded the competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Gilman scholarship recipients receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs.  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.

Meet this year's recipients:
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Claire Burnett is a second-year double major in journalism and mass communication and graphic design from West Des Moines, Iowa. She will be studying on the CIEE Summer in London program.

"I've always been incredibly drawn to London's culture and wanted to see what journalism is like there. I also became more interested after hearing about my professor's times working there and thought it was maybe something I would want to do in the future. What better way to decide if you love a city than to study abroad. I began looking into programs around the middle of January and was immediately drawn to CIEE. Their range of programs, and their attitude and overall mission regarding studying abroad, made me want to study with them. I also already knew that I wanted to go to London and I wanted to go as soon as I possibly could, so the Summer in London program was a perfect fit for me.

I think this experience will have a massive impact on my future in all aspects. I'm already loving London and its culture and can imagine myself coming back for a possible career. I also think that at home my perspective of Iowa will change a lot and honestly make me appreciate it a little more.

Especially in this day and age, it is so important to experience new cultures and ways of life. While everything is so interconnected through technology and social media, there really is only so much you can learn about somewhere else through a screen. Studying abroad is an amazing way to broaden perspectives and I'm so grateful to have been given the opportunity to study abroad in college."


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Angelina Evans is a third-year geography major (minor in computer science) from Tiffin, Iowa. She will be studying abroad in Singapore next fall on the CIEE Open Campus Block Program.

"I was drawn to Singapore because the uniqueness of the architecture, cultural influences, gardens, and food of Singapore fascinates me! I wanted to experience that uniqueness while learning more about the country and its people.

I think this experience will change the way I see the world and how I interact with others in my day-to-day life. Having new experiences, stepping out of my comfort zone, and trying new things will provide me a different perspective on life and will hopefully inspire me to take more steps outside my comfort zone in other situations.

It’s important to me to study abroad because I love learning about geography and have always wanted to explore the world ever since I can remember. This opportunity means so much to me because without financial support, I would not be going abroad. I recognize that being able to travel and learn in a different country is a life-changing experience and I am grateful."


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Toby Hollis is a second-year double major in Spanish and computer science from Clarence, Iowa. He will be studying this summer on the USAC Madrid program.

“I decided to study abroad in Spain because I want to improve my Spanish and experience the culture first-hand. This experience will hopefully lead to me spending more time abroad in Spanish-speaking countries, or just abroad in general. Studying abroad is important to me because I have never been outside of the U.S.”




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Courtney Jones is a fourth-year nursing major from Chicago, Illinois. She will be studying in Greece this summer on the UI faculty-led course Origins of Humanistic Counseling.

"I decided to study abroad in Greece because of my strong passion for mental health and public service. As a nursing major, I feel that it is important to incorporate the values of counseling and therapeutic techniques to communicate with patients in order to make them feel as comfortable as possible. I believe this program is the best way to gain that experience, all whilst simultaneously experiencing a new culture and history.

I know that studying abroad will impact my future by allowing me to gain knowledge and unique experiences with cultures and people on the other side of the world. As a future nurse, I desire to be as helpful and comfortable as possible with every population and background, so studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to start the journey!

Studying abroad is important to me because not many people who look like me are afforded the opportunity to do so. It means that I can show an entire group of people who come from the same background at the University of Iowa and from my hometown that it is possible. I hope to be an inspiration to everyone."


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Olivia Karlen is a second-year English major from Edina, Minnesota. She will be studying this summer through the IES London Direct Enrollment (University College London) program.

"There were many factors that went into my decision to study abroad in the United Kingdom. First and foremost, the opportunity to learn about the extensive literary history of London while also physically being there to take tours of the city is what excites me most about studying in the UK. Another reason I chose the United Kingdom was its proximity to other countries I have always wanted to visit, such as France, Ireland, and Italy. 

I envision this experience impacting my future by helping me gain new connections, develop my confidence in unfamiliar situations, and give me the opportunity to meet many new people and experience new cultures. Additionally, studying abroad in the UK will allow me to be more knowledgeable and gain a global perspective to carry into my career and social life. 

Studying abroad is important to me because I don’t know if I will ever have the opportunity to fully immerse myself in a new place, long-term, ever again. I see myself living in the U.S. as I get older, so to have the opportunity to live in Europe and have the freedom to experience the United Kingdom’s culture was very exciting for me and something I couldn’t pass up."


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Nicholas Mueller is a second-year double major in anthropology and linguistics from Bolivar, Missouri. He will be studying this summer in Seoul, South Korea, on the TEAN Korea University program.

"I chose to study abroad in South Korea because I would love to learn more about the language. This program lets me take a language course and be immersed in the culture, which gives me the opportunity to see (and hear) the language in action. You just can't get that sort of experience any way other than studying abroad. 

I imagine this study abroad experience will have great benefits for my future academic plans and my career goals. I will be attending graduate school in linguistics, so exposure to foreign languages will help me in my studies. Down the road, I'd like to teach English as a foreign language. Being in an environment where I don't know the language will help me understand the challenges of living somewhere without speaking the dominant language. I'm sure this experience will make me a more successful teacher.

Studying abroad is super important to me because I have a yearning to travel and learn. I study anthropology and linguistics because human behavior is something I find extremely fascinating. I absolutely must go out and explore the variation in cultures to better understand the core tenants of both my areas of study."


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Leona Odole is a senior double major in math and data science from Des Moines, Iowa. She will be spending next year studying in Germany on the Technical University of Dortmund Academic Year Exchange program.

“I chose to study in Germany because I have enjoyed visiting Germany and would like to experience it more fully by living there. In addition, I hope to pursue a master's degree after graduation in Germany. I imagine this opportunity will allow me to gain cultural competency and make personal connections with people from around the world. I also hope to be able to make academic connections, so I can make a better-informed decision about where I will attend graduate school. Finally, I am looking forward to improving my German.

Studying abroad is important to me because I think being put outside of my comfort zone allows me to grow. Additionally, it's important to me to learn about different cultures and in doing so learn more about myself.


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Maria Osman is a second-year international studies major (certificate in human rights) from Iowa City, Iowa. She will be studying next fall in Jordan on SIT’s Refugee, Health, and Humanitarian Action program.

"I decided to study abroad in Jordan because I am already taking Arabic courses and since my concentration was in the Middle East I figured Jordan would be the best fit. I also have always been interested in traveling to the Middle East.

I believe that this experience will be the determining factor to helping me navigate what I want to do career-wise. I am doing an internship while studying abroad and I hope that this will allow me to make connections in the Middle East and to be able to work there in the future.

Studying abroad is important to me because it allows for experiences that I would never have had the opportunity to get while in the U.S. It allows you to become immersed in another culture while becoming a global citizen."


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Rin Swann is a fourth-year double major in English and creative writing and journalism and mass communication from Sewickley, Pennsylvania. UPDATE: Unable to accept her Gilman scholarship this year, Rin hopes to defer her award to 2023 and participate in next summer's Irish Writing Program.

The Irish Writing Program was one of the first opportunities I learned of for University of Iowa writers. Moreover, Ireland has long been recognized as a haven for literature. Dublin, like Iowa City, is known as a UNESCO city of literature and it is one of the most literary cities in the world. Besides the beautiful landscape and culture, I really wanted to connect with historical Irish literary masters, like James Joyce.  There are also dozens of events surrounding writing and history in Dublin and I want nothing more than to learn everything I can.

The Irish Writing Program offers an incredibly unique opportunity to write in a location different than my own. I have long believed that the biggest asset to writing is a breadth and depth of experience. By living for six weeks in a country I have never gone to before, I will be pushed out of my comfort zone. Additionally, as a double major in English and creative writing and journalism and mass communications, my experience abroad will lend itself to my journalistic work as well as my creative fields. Travel reporting is something I have always wanted to gain experience in, and the program offers an excellent opportunity to learn more about reporting abroad. It also offers a first-hand glance at the different structures of media communication in a new country. No matter where my future takes me, those lessons will be invaluable. 

I have known most of my life that I wanted to study abroad. I have always wanted to gain an educational experience that is taught by faculty in a separate location with different viewpoints. This experience offers a rare opportunity to stretch my skills and learn from people I may never have met otherwise. I can’t wait to get out of my comfort zone and learn as much as I can."


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Saye Traore is a third-year nursing major (minor in French) from Iowa City, Iowa, who will be studying this fall on the CIEE Paris program.

“I decided to study abroad in France because I've had a fascination with French language and culture ever since I started taking French classes seven years ago and I couldn't pass up an opportunity to experience it. I know that I want to move out of my hometown when I graduate, but I am a very shy and reserved person, so the thought of [studying abroad] is a bit scary for me. I hope that through this experience, I can learn to adapt to life in a place that I have no ties to and prove to myself that I can thrive anywhere in the world.

Studying abroad means a lot to me because I have always been a champion for the beauty of change and diversifying oneself through new experiences, and I feel extremely lucky to take my learning to another level as well as my willingness to put myself out there.”


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Whitney Woepking is a fourth-year double major in biomedical engineering and Spanish from Muscatine, Iowa. She will be traveling to Spain this summer on the CIEE Global Internship program.

"I have always wanted to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country, so when I found this program that also offered an internship, I knew it was meant to be. I have heard so many wonderful things about the people, the culture, and the environment and I am very excited to be finally going to Spain.

I will be interning at a clinic during my time in Spain and I hope that it will provide more insight into what I would like to do after graduation. I hope to also better my Spanish communication abilities in both professional and casual settings. I also hope to become a better citizen of the world and continue learning about other places and other people.

I think being immersed in a different language and culture is so important for individual development and cultural awareness. I know study abroad can have profound impacts on language skills and I look forward to advancing my professional use of Spanish."

Ezekiel Butler is a third-year ethics and public policy major (minor in Arabic and urban studies certificate) from Blue Springs, Missouri. He will be studying this summer on the SIT Jordan Counseling and Humanitarian Action program.


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