Three UI undergraduates awarded prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Three 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 or intern abroad this summer.

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.

Meet this year's recipients:

Nazira Coury

Nazira Coury – Arabic Language and Culture in Morocco

Major: International Relations, Latin American Studies, & Arabic

What will be the focus of your study?
The main focus of my time studying abroad will be to continue to learn Arabic and practice it as much as possible. I will be taking nine weeks of intensive Arabic classes while in Morocco, so I plan to return to the U.S. with better language skills in order to complete my Arabic minor. I will also be taking a class that will focus on the Moroccan culture. I’m extremely excited for this class since I love to learn about the cultures of other countries, and I hope that with this class I can gain a better understanding of the rich Moroccan culture.

How do you envision this experience impacting your future?
After graduation, some of my plans include applying for a Fulbright scholarship to conduct research abroad. I’m hopeful that during my time in Morocco I can begin to make some connections with potential affiliates with whom I can conduct research within the future. I also plan to pursue a career with the State Department, perhaps through an internship at first. I know that this opportunity will allow me to grow more as an individual, and will better equip me for my future aspirations of working abroad.

Why is studying abroad important to you?
I’ve always loved meeting people from all over the world and learning about their different languages and cultures. Morocco has so much to offer, especially since everything will be completely different and new for me. I really wanted to study in a non-traditional country, in order to conquer some of the challenges that come with adapting to a whole new way of life. I believe that studying abroad will allow me to embrace diverse values, experiences, and lifestyles that will make me a more culturally competent professional in the future.

Would you have any advice for future students interested in pursuing a Gilman Scholarship?
My advice for any student interested in pursuing a Gilman Scholarship is to not hesitate to reach out for help. I attended an information session in which I received a ton of advice from a study abroad advisor. Some advisors from the study abroad office were also able to give me feedback on my drafts for the essay portion of the application, which was incredibly helpful. I would also visit the Writing Center on campus since they can give you some great writing tips and they will bring a fresh perspective to your essay.

 

Elijah

Elijah Thompson-Acquah – Irish Writing Program

Major: English

What will be the focus of your study?
I will be studying in Ireland for the Irish Writing Program, reading stories from renowned authors like James Joyce, and writing a lot of prose for workshops.

How do you envision this experience impacting your future?
I believe that studying abroad this summer will open me up to new connections in the writing sphere. Having experienced other parts of the world outside of the United States will improve my ability be a better storyteller and ultimately my writing career. 

Why is studying abroad important to you?
It will give me a new perspective. I can only imagine what it's like living in a foreign country, like Ireland (which I'll be traveling to this summer). Experiencing another country first-hand will help me receive new personal experiences, just as I've received them when traveling from out-of-state to Iowa.

Would you have any advice for future students interested in pursuing a Gilman Scholarship?
Do your research on your destination. Also, the essays are very important, so have someone proofread them and make sure they flow smoothly in structure.  Receiving a Gilman Scholarship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

 

Emily Campbell

Emily Campbell – SIT China Community Health

Major: Biomedical Engineering

What will be the focus of your internship?
The focus of my study abroad program will be Traditional Chinese Medicine and Mandarin Chinese. 
 
How do you envision this experience impacting your future?
After graduation, I plan to attend medical school and I believe this experience will help me shape my personal opinions about medicine and give me insight to ways I can incorporate Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine into my own practice in the future. I also think that continuing my study of Chinese this summer will help me reach my goal of becoming fluent and allow me to become a more rounded individual. 
 
Why is studying abroad important to you?
 Studying abroad is important to me because I want exposure to cultures beyond the University of Iowa campus, and I feel that college is an ideal time to study abroad while I am still shaping my future. In my case, studying abroad is particularly important to help me improve my speaking skills. 
 
Would you have any advice for future students interested in pursuing a Gilman Scholarship?
To future students applying to Gilman, I would encourage them to be both bold and honest when writing their scholarship essays. There's no reason to hide experiences that have made you who you are today, and the selection committee will value that!

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