Gilman Scholars Head to Italy, Senegal for Spring Semester

In the past three years, nine USF students have been awarded Gilman Scholarships to support travels abroad.

TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 22, 2010) – After spending their first two years of college studying different cultures and dreaming of one day visiting faraway places, two undergraduate students at the University of South Florida will soon step foot on the lands they have only read about.

Thanks to their outstanding academic achievements and interest in global studies, USF juniors Hannah Feig and Gianexis Lopez earned Gilman Scholarships for the Spring 2011 semester in support of their upcoming education abroad experiences.

The education abroad trips combine college coursework at local universities with field experiences in the neighboring communities.

Feig, a chemical engineering major, heads to Senegal, a French-speaking country on the western coast of Africa. Feig will take language, culture, and art courses in the capital city of Dakar where she will learn African dancing and batik printing from local artisans. She also plans to visit different villages and work with local professors to conduct a month-long research project on the connection between health and the environment, particularly water.

Lopez, a criminology and Italian major, will spend the semester in Florence, Italy, where she will take courses on Italian language and culture to support her dual major at USF. She plans to make small trips to explore different areas of the country and volunteer in the communities.

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 ability to fund international travel.

The students must also complete a Follow-On Project to share information about the Gilman Scholarship Program with the university. Feig will write a blog about her everyday experiences in Senegal and submit a series of articles to The Oracle, USF’s student-run newspaper.

“I want to tell about the little, everyday things about living in Senegal. Instead of focusing on the big picture, I want to go into the small details like about sleeping under a mosquito net. Those are the things students don’t know about when it comes to study abroad,” said Feig.

Lopez is planning to conduct information sessions with students enrolled in USF’s Freshman Summer Institute (FSI), a program that provides access to a university education for promising students from first generation and/or limited income families. Lopez began her USF experience in the FSI program and wants to give back to the program, where she says all her dreams began.

“While in FSI, I dreamed of studying abroad but never thought it would be possible due to the high cost,” said Lopez. “I hope to inspire the freshmen in this program today and inform them about how studying abroad can be a possibility for them.”

Now more than ever, interest in international education opportunities has surged on campus. In the past three years, nine USF students have been awarded Gilman Scholarships to support travels to the Dominican Republic, Ghana, Greece, Japan, and Sweden. In the 2009-2010 academic year, more than 800 USF students participated in an education abroad experience.

-       For more information, contact communications officer Jacqui Cash at 813-974-1468.