Bennett College students Christen Aldridge ’14 and Mejhe’ Minor ’15 received the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. During the Spring 2014 academic term, Aldridge will study abroad in Florence, Italy while Minor travels to San Jose, Costa Rica.
Seven-hundred undergraduate students from across the nation were selected for the Gilman Scholarship, each receiving up to $5,000 to fund their study abroad programs. The opportunity will help them gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies – making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.
The program is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE). According to Allan Goodman, president and CEO of IIE, “International education is one of the best tools for developing mutual understanding and building connections between people from different countries. It is critical to the success of American diplomacy and business, and the lasting ties that Americans make during their international studies are important to our country, in times of conflict as well as times of peace.”
Aldridge, an English major, says she looks forward to a sharing of cultures. Growing up in Denver, Colorado, she knows what it’s like to be the minority. That’s a feeling she repeated last summer as she traveled abroad to Germany and Austria.
“I know what it takes to immerse myself in someone else’s culture and adapt to it,” Aldridge said. “I want to repeat the opportunity I had in the summer to expose and express my culture in Italy. I want to go to a place where I can put myself out there and, in return, learn from the Italians.”
Minor, too, is interested in the unique learning opportunities. For this biology major, traveling to Costa Rica is a wonderful opportunity to hone in on her Spanish speaking skills. It’s also the chance to do something that no one in her family has ever done before.
“Such an experience is extremely unique for me, because in addition to being a first-generation college student, I will be the first person in my family to travel outside of the United States,” Minor said.