University of Iowa

Four undergraduates awarded prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

December 12th, 2017

Four University of Iowa undergraduates have been awarded the prestigious 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 towards 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.

nick ryan

Nicholas Ryan - SIT Uganda Development Studies
Majors: Business, International Relations, International Relations Transitional Issues

What will be the focus of your study?
The focus of my study will be on economic development and the paths Uganda and Rwanda have each taken in trying to better their economies and the lives of their peoples.  I will be spending six weeks in the capital city of Kampala living with a Ugandan family, a week in Rwanda, a week with a family of subsistence-level farmers in Uganda, and the last six weeks doing an independent research project on transnational issues in the region. 
 
How do you envision this experience impacting your future?
I believe this could have a large impact on my future as I would ideally like to continue my studies in international relations and economics with a specific emphasis on growth and development. Hopefully, I can go on to get either a Master's or Ph.D. in the political science field and continue to do research on poverty alleviation and policy/advocacy work. 
 
 Why is studying abroad important to you?
Studying abroad is incredibly important to me because I am a firm believer that even as our world becomes more interconnected and we can very easily see gorgeous pictures from far-flung locations or watch travel series, it is an entirely different and far more rewarding experience to actually immerse oneself in the culture which simply cannot be replicated.
 

Jenna Iben - CIEE Paris Global Institute
Majors: Psychology, French

What will be the focus of your study?
The focus of my studies in Paris this upcoming spring includes gaining a better proficiency in the French language as well as learning to better adapt to a new culture. I've been studying French for many years now and there's an aspect of learning the language that is almost lost when studying in a classroom setting compared to being immersed and exposed to it outside of the classroom. Learning a language from a professor and speaking/hearing it in combination is the best way to improve. This is what I'm most looking forward to in relation to my academic goals. I also think that living abroad for five months will provide me with helpful tools in acclimating and adapting to a new culture and new people. 
 
How do you envision this experience impacting your future?
I envision this experience impacting my future by teaching me new skills in all areas of my life that will not only help my academic and professional life but also my personal life in years to come. This experience will certainly improve my French language and progress my lifelong goal of being fluent. I also expect to learn valuable skills by meeting people from other cultures, learning a new way of life, and being pushed completely out of my comfort zone. My plan following graduation from the University of Iowa is to attend graduate school and live in either France or Quebec, Canada, which will no doubt demand a high speaking proficiency in French; this program will help me gain that.
 
 Why is studying abroad important to you?
Studying abroad has always been important to me, so much so that I almost did an exchange year in high school. I always knew that I wanted to not only study and live short term in another country during college but also that I may find myself permanently moving abroad later on. This experience will hopefully prove to be very helpful in teaching me how to adapt to a culture different than my own. I am extremely excited about all the opportunities and adventures to come! 
 

Onae Parker - Japan, Meiji University Exchange
Majors: Linguistics, Asian Language and Literature

What will be the focus of your study?
My primary focus will be in Japanese linguistics, literature, and translation studies.
 
How do you envision this experience impacting your future?
Though I’m already centering my life and goals around studying in Japan, I imagine that this experience will continue to somehow tie my destiny to Japan—exactly how is something I’ll find out. But what I am more certain of is that I have no clue how this experience will shape my future. One semester here completely altered my academic and professional goals, and so who can say what will happen to me after one semester abroad? I think this large unknown is what makes the prospect of this study abroad experience as exciting as it is.
 
Why is studying abroad important to you? 
First of all, this experience will be incredibly important in terms of my goals to pursue linguistic research and literary translation as careers. I’ve never been able to study Japanese linguistics from the Japanese perspective in the Japanese language, which I know will be phenomenal for my working knowledge and linguistic perspective. Furthermore, the opportunity to immerse myself in the language in both its spoken and literary form is one of those next steps towards becoming a better translator. Finally, studying abroad holds a more personal importance for me—having grown up half-Japanese, I’ve always wanted an opportunity like this, in which I could search for my “missing”/underdeveloped" half of my identity.
 
Emily Smith

Emily Smith - SIT South Africa - Community Health and Social Policy
Major: Global Health Studies

What will be the focus of your study?
I will be participating in the SIT South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy program based in Durban, South Africa. I am focused on understanding the best way to integrate a community's perspective into public health policies and creating a better relationship between numbers and the people those numbers represent. I will be taking courses that focus on the public health initiatives that currently exist in South Africa, how they are implemented, and the impact social determinants have on their success. 

 
How do you envision this experience impacting your future?
This experience will help me understand the best way to approach communities I am not naturally a part of and work with them to create an environment that is truly beneficial for their health and deconstruct any superiority complex I might subliminally have. 
I am very passionate about making a difference, and I want to do it the right way. I am currently working on a side project dedicated to addressing the mental health of individuals post-crisis, and advocating that assessing mental health should be standard when emergency aid is provided. With this study abroad experience I hope to learn methods for implementing public health appropriately and how I can best help those in need of equal representation and advocacy.  I have been granted an incredible opportunity to receive a higher education and I need to use my position to help empower those who are equally as deserving of my opportunities but do not have the access.
 
Why is studying abroad important to you?
As an individual who is studying the world and the health of more than seven billion people who inhabit it, it is important for me to leave the classroom. The world cannot be confined to a single classroom, textbook, university, or culture. The world is not the United States, the world is not the West. A diverse perspective is crucial in accurately representing and improving global and public health, and that is why studying abroad is important to me. 
 
 
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