University of Iowa honors student Allison Schafer has 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 semester. The Gilman Scholarship seeks to strengthen intercultural understanding and prepare undergraduates for a global economy by increasing the number of students who can study abroad.
Schafer, a senior majoring in journalism and mass communication, with a minor in rhetoric, will study in Italy through the IES Milan Internships.
"This experience will shape me academically and professionally, but I'm most excited about this experience shaping me as a person," said Schafer. "I know I won't go into a situation like this and be the same person when it's all said and done."
Schafer, an Iowa native, also looks forward to how studying abroad will broaden her global perspective. "I'm from a small Iowa town of 1,200 people," said Schafer. "In my small town, now more than ever there seems to be a fear of different people, places, and cultures--not many people want to leave the safety of their town, much less the U.S.! Study abroad is important to me because I know the experience will be different from anything I've ever known, and getting out of my comfort zone will encourage self-growth and an understanding of how other people live."
While in Italy, Schafer will also complete her senior capstone project as part of a new major track within honors called Engaged Social Innovation, designed for innovators and doers seeking out and developing new solutions to social problems.
"The project I will be working on in Italy is designed to encourage other small-town Iowa kids to explore the world and have their own cross-cultural experiences through travel," said Schafer. "Travel makes people kinder, more empathetic global citizens, and I'd like to help make the world a kinder place by showing that differences are something to be celebrated rather than feared."
Schafer is one of nearly 1,000 undergraduate students from hundreds of colleges and universities across the U.S. selected for the scholarship. For more information about the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which awards up to $5,000 for a semester of study abroad, and up to $8,000 for students studying critical languages, visit: https://international.uiowa.edu/study-abroad/funding/scholarships/external/gilman-scholarship