Following an historic spring semester which sparked unprecedented challenges in international student mobility, the U.S. State Department-funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, has announced scholarship recipients for their March 2020 deadline application competition. Nine University of South Carolina students, Jasmine Battle, Madison Blanding, Zhané Bradley, Tierra King, Victoria Ponds, Megan Stephens, Karen Wong, and two additional undergraduates have been named 2020 Scholars. Three other UofSC students were named Alternates.
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 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 and world regions.
Due to the global pandemic, this cycle’s applicants faced unique challenges throughout their Gilman process. At the time of application, many applicants were unsure of whether their programs will still be offered. Now they face new challenges as they navigate the unlikely possibility of international travel in the near future, while still hoping to have an international experience supported by the Gilman Scholarship. Despite these challenges, our recipients were persistent in their applications and are determined to have an international experience before they graduate.
Education Abroad Advisor and Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, Anuja Parikh, serves as the Study Abroad Certifying Advisor for Gilman applicants on UofSC’s campus. When asked to comment on this cycle’s group of Gilman recipients, Parikh stated, “What’s unique about this group of Scholars is that they will have more options than ever to defer their awards to non-traditional education abroad opportunities like remote virtual internships or intensive online language programs. We are hopeful that international travel will be a safe option for our students again soon, but in the meantime, these students have a plethora of opportunities to explore the world from Columbia.”
The Education Abroad Office and National Fellowships & Scholar Programs work together to provide support and application resources for Gilman 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 www.sc.edu/nfsp.
Battle is a Pharmacy major from Greenville with an expected graduation date of May 2022. As a UofSC student, she serves as a Mental Health Ambassador and a Multicultural Assistance Peer Program (MAPP) Mentor in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA). As a Gilman Scholar she plans to spend time studying in Costa Rica.
Blanding is an Anthropology major and Linguistics minor who recently transferred to UofSC in fall 2019. As a Carolina student, she serves as an executive board member of Women LEAD, and is involved in Planned Parenthood Generation Action, OMSA’s MAPP program, Book Club, and Tau Sigma Honors Society. As a Gilman Scholar, Blanding plans to spend a semester studying at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.
Bradley is a rising senior studying Visual Communications in the College of Information and Communications. Bradley has worked as Graphic Design/Marketing Intern in the Education Abroad Office, Marketing Coordinator of the Study Abroad Association, and Photo Editor of Garnet and Black Magazine. Bradley hopes to complete her proposed study abroad plan in Ghana before she graduates in May 2021.
King is a rising senior majoring in Political Science with a minor in African American Studies. While at UofSC she served as an AAAS executive board member, Resident Mentor, and MAPP mentor. With her interest in politics, she has also worked as a page at the State House for two years. After graduation, King plans to pursue a law degree and work in public service. Recently, King was also awarded a Freeman-ASIA Scholarship to fund her proposed study abroad in South Korea where she will focus on Korean language studies.
Ponds is a rising junior majoring in Environmental Science. An Opportunity Scholar, TRiO McNair Scholar, and Geo Scholar, Ponds has been recognized for her academic excellence. In addition to her academic accomplishments, she serves as a peer leader in Sustainable Carolina where she works on the garden and zero waste teams. As a Gilman Scholar she plans to pursue studies in Costa Rica.
Stephens is a rising senior studying International Relations and Linguistics. As an undergraduate she has dedicated her time to researching and studying the Middle East, with a focus on Arabic and Hebrew. In the future she hopes to pursue a career in photojournalism to share the stories of those affected by conflict in the region. As a Gilman Scholar, Stephens plans to study in Israel.
Wong is an International Business and Marketing major with minors in Chinese and Graphic Design. She is also an Opportunity Scholar at the University. As part of the International Business and Chinese Enterprise (IBCE) cohort, she previously participated in study abroad in Hong Kong and plans to return to continue her Chinese studies as a Gilman Scholar.