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National Fellowships and Scholar Programs

  • The group of Gilman Scholars standing in front of DeSaussure College.

UofSC Students Win Gilman Scholarship


Ten University of South Carolina students will be able to explore the globe thanks to being awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. In the first cycle of this year’s competition, our ten scholars are Michaela Catoe, Stephanie Daniel, Olivia Falk, Rodrianna Gaddy, Meoshay Jefferson, Malika Lightbourne, Justin Weeks, Laura White, Dynesha Wright and Michael Zhu. These students will be abroad in eight different countries during their travels in the upcoming year.

Named after the late congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, the Gilman Scholarship Program has awarded 31,000 scholarships to students participating in study abroad programs and internships around the world. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs supports the implementation of the Gilman Scholarship on behalf of the U.S. Department of State.

The Gilman Scholarship broadens the student population that studies and interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints. The program aims to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries or areas and world regions.

Anuja Parikh, Study Abroad Advisor, Payge Jennings, National Fellowships Coordinator, and Jennifer Bess, Director of National Fellowships, advised UofSC Gilman applicants. When asked about the success of Gilman applicants, Parikh stated, “Cycle 1 of the Gilman Scholarship was met with huge success for UofSC students, and it’s something both the Study Abroad Office and NFSP can celebrate. This is the highest success rate UofSC has seen over the past five years, and we can now tell students that over one in two students were awarded the Gilman.”

National Fellowships & Scholar Programs and the Study Abroad Office are campus resources for applicants. For more information about the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship or other national competitions, contact National Fellowships & Scholar Programs at 777-0958, or visit us online at


Catoe is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She has also been a news writer for The Daily Gamecock. Influenced by her cognate in African-American studies and her cousin’s study abroad, Catoe will travel to Ghana where she hopes to study African history. Catoe is also interested in how mainstream media portrays minority populations and hopes to compare the roles of media in different countries to the US. Upon return to the US, Catoe plans to join the Black and Abroad panel through UofSC’s Study Abroad Office to share the experiences gained during her experience.

Daniel is a sophomore majoring in Political Science and Spanish. On-campus, Daniel is involved in Student Government and the Opportunity Scholars Program. She is also a Duke University Undergraduate Pre-Law Scholar. While studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, Daniel hopes to learn about the Spanish language, culture and community. She plans to volunteer with Madrid for Refugees, a nonprofit that empowers marginalized individuals, including refugees and migrants in need of international protection. She hopes this experience will assist in her future goal of becoming an immigration lawyer.

Falk is a junior majoring in Political Science and Experimental Psychology. She has served as vice president of the Carolina Judicial Council, acting as a liaison between the members of the council and the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity. She is also a Capstone Scholar and Capstone Fellow. Falk will travel to Seville, Spain and aims to gain new insights into U.S.-European relations while enjoying Spanish culture. She also plans to volunteer with local elementary students to help with their English language learning.

Gaddy is an Honors College junior majoring in International Business and Human Resources Management. She has served as a peer writing and communications tutor at the Student Success Center and as a member of the Black Business Student Association. She has also been named a Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America Scholar. As the first in her family to travel to a different country, Gaddy hopes to be a role model for her younger family members. While studying abroad in Japan, Gaddy hopes to gain a new perspective on a culture that is different from her own while being immersed in the Japanese language.

Jefferson is a junior majoring in Political Science. During her time at UofSC, she has served on the Student Government and the Obama Foundation’s Community Leadership Corps. Additionally, she has interned for Governor McMaster’s office. Inspired by her previous experience in Israel, she will be studying abroad in Jordan and aims to analyze Middle Eastern policy and international security. To learn more about Israeli culture, Jefferson is excited to push herself out of her comfort zone.

Lightbourne is an Honors College sophomore majoring in Global Studies. She has served as the publicity coordinator for Gamecocks Against Trafficking and Exploitation and as a legal intern for Sistercare, a South Carolina-based domestic violence shelter. She has also volunteered with the Special Olympics. Additionally, she is a Carolina Scholar through Top Scholars. Motivated by her brother’s study abroad experience, Lightbourne will travel to Chile, where she hopes to immerse herself in Hispanic culture and the Spanish language. While in Chile, Lightbourne will participate in service-learning projects.

Weeks is a junior majoring in Marine Science. He has served as the vice president of the UofSC SCUBA club and has conducted undergraduate research with Dr. Joseph Quattro on the possible use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to identify different hammerhead shark species. During his time in South Africa, Weeks hopes to develop his skills as a photographer and scientist while becoming more globally-minded. In the future, he looks forward to working with the National Fellowships and Scholar Programs Office to encourage others to apply for the Gilman.

White is a junior majoring in Finance and Supply Chain Operations. While at UofSC, White has served as a tutor at the Student Success Center and Heyward Gibbs Middle School. Additionally, White has been involved in the Women in Business Council and the Society of Supply Chain Operations Excellence (SCOPE). While in Seville, Spain, White hopes to learn more about Spanish consumers, how financial investments work on a global scale, and familiarize herself with European culture. In the future, White hopes to inspire other students who are traditionally underrepresented abroad by helping Gilman applicants through the Study Abroad Office.

Wright is a junior majoring in Pre-Pharmacy. She has served as a University 101 peer leader, a UofSC orientation leader and as the director of external affairs for the Office of the Student Body President. In addition to this involvement, she has conducted undergraduate research measuring the adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals with Dr. Charles Bennett. While studying abroad in Reggio Emilia, Italy, Wright hopes to immerse herself in Italian culture while learning about public health from an Italian perspective. She also plans to intern at a local clinic while completing her coursework abroad.

Zhu is an Honors College junior majoring in Psychology. During his time at UofSC, he has volunteered with Hospice Care of South Carolina, the Autism Academy and the Carolina Survivor Clinic. He has also conducted undergraduate research with Dr. Charles Bennett to look at adverse drug reactions. While in Copenhagen, Denmark, Zhu aims to learn about the city’s sustainability efforts and historical architecture. In addition to his studies, Zhu will intern at a social psychiatry café to experience how people suffering from mental illness are treated. He hopes to travel outside of his comfort zone while hearing other people’s stories and sharing his own.

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