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Seven ETSU students awarded competitive national scholarship

Contributed • Dec 28, 2019 at 10:20 AM

Their destinations range from Argentina to Rwanda.

Seven students from East Tennessee State University recently learned their study abroad experiences will be supported by the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

Since 2001, Gilman Scholarships have assisted qualifying students with study or intern abroad experiences by providing them with skills critical to national security and economic prosperity. The program is administered by the Institute of International Education and congressionally funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Staff in ETSU’s Honors College and Roan Scholars Leadership Program partnered to encourage students to apply.

“The two programs worked together to create Gilman information sessions and workshops as well as individualized meetings with student applicants to go over application materials,” said Dr. Chris Keller, dean of the Honors College. “I’m confident that we can continue this spirit of collaboration with other campus partners to help ETSU students apply for nationally competitive scholarships.”

The students selected during this funding cycle will receive $15,500 in Gilman Scholarships to support their international education experiences. Recipients range from first year students to seniors, and four awardees are members of the Roan Scholars Leadership Program.

Jennifer Adler, assistant director for the Roan, says scholars are strongly encouraged to engage in global experiences as a component of leadership development.

“Time and again, we have witnessed the tremendous growth Scholars gain from substantive experiences with different places and cultures. They return to ETSU with new passion, energy and perspective – prepared to tackle bigger challenges and seeking ways to make a larger impact on our campus, community and world.”

Among the Gilman Scholarship recipients is Jessica Babb, a junior from Greeneville. The adult student and mother of two will spend a semester in Ireland. Babb is majoring in radiologic science with a minor in physical education and drives a school bus for Ottway Elementary School.

Olivia Bostic, a Roan Scholar, is headed to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she will study health care and medical Spanish. A native of Abingdon, Virginia, Bostic is a pre-nursing student in her first year at ETSU. She is a member of Students Advocating for Harm Reduction and an EMT for Washington County, Virginia.

Biology major and Women’s Studies minor Keiandra Harper will take a “women and leadership” course in Kigali, Rwanda. The Roan Scholar is a freshman from Morristown and currently serves as the diversity and inclusion chair for Sigma Kappa sorority.

“The course will add great depth to my minor and allow me to expand my cultural view on women and the world,” she explained. “This experience will surely be equally as empowering as it is educational and I can't wait to see what doors it opens for me.”

Shivam Patel is working toward a career in public health and will study abroad in Vietnam to learn how the country is transitioning to an advanced health care model. Patel is a sophomore from Morristown. In addition to being a Roan Scholar, he is also a senator in the Student Government Association, member of Bucsworth Men’s Choir and the ABLE student organization, as well as a Preview and Orientation Leader and a Buccaneer Involvement Guide.

Knoxville native Marianne Perkins is a University Honors Scholar studying international affairs and German. She is currently interning with the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C., through the Washington Center Internship Program and will study in Germany next year.

“Studying abroad will not only allow me to develop my German language ability but also to study the political climate in Germany,” she noted. “I am interested in completing my thesis on the topic of refugee resettlement in Germany, and I plan to work to develop my thesis while abroad. Upon my graduation from ETSU in May 2021, I plan to pursue a career in assisting immigrants and refugees both domestically and abroad by working in law or the nonprofit sector.”

Samantha Sutton will gain a global business perspective in Seoul, South Korea. The junior international business major from Tullahoma, Tennessee, says the experience will be essential to achieving her goals of going to graduate school and later working as an international representative or for a multinational corporation.

The “happiest country on earth,” Finland, is the destination of Jordan Teague, a Roan Scholar who studies physics at ETSU. She is heavily involved in research and was awarded an ETSU Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant to study DNA oxidation in white matter of females with major depressive disorder. Teague, an Elizabethton native, is working toward a career in neurophysics and hopes to apply her knowledge to develop a more quantitative treatment for mental illness.

“By traveling to Finland I will gain insight into how their mental health treatment produces citizens who surveyed as feeling they are living their best lives,” she said. “That is in great contrast to the United States, which has the highest opioid overdose death rate in the world. I want to apply the concept of ‘positive psychology’ – What makes life most worth living? This way I can find out how things are done differently in Finland and bring that back home.”

ETSU Honors College is encouraging students to apply for summer and fall 2020 Gilman Scholarships by March 1. Students must demonstrate financial need to qualify. The Office of International Programs is available to assist students in selecting a study abroad program and connect them with funding opportunities, such as the Gilman Scholarship. To learn more, visit www.etsu.edu/honors or contact [email protected] or 423-439-7737.

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