Four undergrad students awarded Gilman study abroad scholarships
Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 10:05
Four students at the University of Rhode Island will have the possibility of studying abroad during the summer as a result of being selected for the 2013 Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program.
The program selects students to give awards to twice a year and select undergraduate students in order to help reduce the cost of studying abroad during the summer. The program was established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, according to its website. To be considered for the scholarship, students are required to be receiving the Federal Pell Grant at a “two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide.” The program aims to “diversity the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go” by providing funding to those who would, in other cases, not study abroad due to not being able to finance the trip.
The winners of the scholarship, from URI, are Aine Lehane, Pitu Sim, Rachael Adams and Nermeen El-Araby. Each winner chose a country that they’d like study abroad in. Two of the recipients, Sim and Adams, chose countries in Asia while the other two recipients, Lehane and El-Araby, decided on an African and European country, respectively.
As a sophomore health studies major – with a concentration in global health – taking pre-med courses, Lehane selected Botswana as her destination of choice.
“I applied for the scholarship because without [the scholarship] it would not have been financially feasible for me to study abroad,” Lehane said in an email. “I am very thankful I got it.”
Lehane said she wanted to get more of an international experience, especially one that focused on health so she looked for a program that had something related to her interests. “I also love traveling so I thought studying abroad would be a great way to do this,” she said.
Wanting to learn more about HIV/AIDS, Lehane decided that she wanted to travel to a sub-Saharan country in Africa. Because there is a high rate of HIV/AIDS in Botswana, she decided to choose that country – but not for that reason alone. “The program offered in Botswana is focused on public health, and it also includes an internship so I will have the opportunity to intern at a local health clinic and hopefully learn a great deal about Botswana’s healthcare system,” she said. She added that in addition to learning about their healthcare, she would have the opportunity of a firsthand experience in the country both in and outside of the classroom.
One of the classes she plans on taking while there is one of the local language, Setswana. She said learning the language will hopefully help her better interact with the locals. Other classes she will be taking will focus on Botswana’s healthcare system and for the last week of the program, she is traveling to a rural village to work in a care clinic. “I think this will give me great insight into what it is like to provide healthcare in a developing nation, which is something that I hope to make [into] a career one day,” Lehane said.
Lehane hopes to gain an understanding of life in a developing nation and what it’s like to live in one. She said since the country has such a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS she hopes to also understand the local healthcare system.
“Overall, I hope to experience everything the country has to offer and I can’t wait for the unknown that awaits me,” Lehane said.
For junior economics and political science double major Pitu Sim, winning a Gilman Summer 2013 Scholarship means more than the relief of the financial burden of studying abroad.
With this scholarship, Sim is being given an opportunity to return to his native country Cambodia, a place he has not seen since his immigration to the United States when he was in kindergarten.
“I’m originally from Cambodia and [I’m] trying to revisit my culture, my language, and see Cambodia,” Sim said. “Being in America I’m not exposed to that kind of history just because the only person who usually talks to me about Cambodia is my mother.”
While in Cambodia, Sim would be taking an intermediate Cambodian language course and a history course. Though his course load would be rigorous, Sim hopes to be able to make time to see his grandmother who still lives in Cambodia.
“The only relatives I have are my mother and my aunt, my grandmother’s only children, so to be able to see my grandma would be a really great surprise for me,” Sim said. “My mom is just really excited that I’m thinking about going. I told her it cost too much, but since I got this scholarship she’s been really excited.”