Gilman Scholars Head to Dominican Republic and Japan

TAMPA, Fla. (July 15, 2010) -- While most students will soon be packing their bags to head back to college, two students at the University of South Florida – thanks to the Gilman Scholarship program - will begin the new academic year in the Dominican Republic and Japan.

Vadricka Etienne and Sam Van Ginhoven were named Gilman scholars in recognition of their outstanding academic achievements and interest in global studies.

A highly competitive award, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a congressionally-funded program offering grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad. International experience is critically important in the educational and career development of American students, so the Gilman program provides these opportunities for students who might not otherwise have the means for international travel.

Etienne is a communication major and a member of the USF Honors College. Her Gilman Scholarship will support her travels to the Dominican Republic where she will take classes in African and Caribbean culture and participate in mini-trips to other Caribbean nations. A child of Haitian immigrants, Etienne is researching the experiences of children of immigrants and plans to continue this work at the graduate level.

“I’m really excited to have been selected for the Gilman Scholarship Program. Studying and living abroad offers a distinct experience that a short visit can’t replicate, and this program will give me a deeper exposure to the Caribbean culture before I go to graduate school,” said Etienne.

Also a member of the Honors College, Van Ginhoven is an international studies major and will spend the Fall semester in Japan. Van Ginhoven has studied the Japanese language since high school and has expanded his studies at USF to include cultural, political, and language education. After college, Van Ginhoven envisions a career where he can use his Japanese language and cultural studies to communicate ideas between Japan and other nations.

“Studying in Japan will offer me the chance to put my language skills to daily use because I will be immersed every day in the language. I can also engage on a deeper level with the culture and interact with Japanese students both in and out of the classroom,” said Van Ginhoven.

Now more than ever, USF students are earning prestigious national awards such as the Gilman. Two other USF students recently completed study abroad programs in Japan and Sweden funded from the Gilman Scholarship Program and two students were named Goldwater Scholars for 2010, which is a first for the university.