Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Out of thousands of applicants nationwide, four students from the University of Iowa have been granted a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which awards each recipient up to $5,000 to study abroad. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, these experiences offer students the opportunity to immerse themselves in diverse cultures, languages, and economies, fostering a deeper understanding of the world, and better equipping them with skills to excel in leadership positions within both government and the private sector. 

Meet this year's recipients:

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El Tayeb Ahmed is a fourth-year finance and risk management and insurance major from Iowa City, Iowa. He studied abroad this winter in London on the International Business in London program. 

“I decided to study abroad in London because it offered a unique academic and cultural environment that will broaden my perspectives and provide invaluable global experiences, contributing to my personal and academic growth. 

This study abroad experience in London will equip me with a more diverse skill set, making me a more knowledgeable and globally conscious individual, which is crucial in our interconnected world. 

Studying abroad was important to me because it opens doors to experiences and learning opportunities that I might otherwise miss out on. It allows me to justify pursuing enriching global experiences, providing a chance to engage with diverse cultures and broaden my horizons, contributing to my overall personal development and future goals.” 


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Brayden Atkinson is a third-year marketing major from Dubuque, Iowa. He will be studying this spring in Korea on the Korea University Exchange. 

“I've been interested in South Korean culture since about 2014. Korea first piqued my interest when I found the native entertainment which spiraled into an interest in Korean culture, which helped me through my childhood. 

I believe studying abroad will have a positive impact on my maturity and mindset for the future. 

Studying abroad is important to me because I missed out on many college life opportunities, and the need to experience a unique experience is a necessity.” 


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Camry Pritchard is a fourth-year international studies major from Bettendorf, Iowa. In addition to a Gilman Scholarship, she is also the recipient of a Critical Language Scholarship. She will be studying abroad this summer in South Korea on the TEAN Korea summer program. 

My decision to study in South Korea stems from a lifelong passion for its rich and diverse culture, which first ignited during my formative years. Before middle school, academic pursuits didn't particularly captivate me. However, that all changed in a social studies class that delved into the significance of culture. This experience sparked my curiosity in exploring the world's richness and diversity. South Korea, with its unique blend of history, vibrant society, and cutting-edge advancements, became a focal point of my fascination. 

My dream is to teach abroad, and immersing myself in different cultures through this experience will undoubtedly prepare me for this rewarding career. Living in a foreign country, understanding diverse customs, and speaking different languages will not only enhance my teaching abilities but also contribute to fostering mutual understanding between cultures. 

Studying abroad holds immense significance for me, as I've never had the financial means to travel. Embracing the concept of culture shock during this study abroad experience is especially meaningful as a first-generation college student. I look forward to this opportunity to broaden my horizons, learn from diverse cultures, and personally grow.” 


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Safeya Siddig is a fourth-year marketing major from Iowa City, Iowa. She studied abroad this winter in London on the International Business in London program. 

“This experience has been pivotal in impacting my future by offering a firsthand understanding of international markets and business practices, particularly in the advanced beauty and fashion scene of London. 

As someone aspiring to work in the beauty and fashion world, this opportunity has enhanced my adaptability, cultural competence, and global perspective. 

Studying abroad forces you into situations you are not normally in, initiating more conversations and pushing you to handle challenges you may not have encountered before. It has been a profound learning experience, both personally and professionally.” 

International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement.  IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.