WOOSTER, Ohio – Three College of Wooster students – Marcus Bowers ’19, Monet Davis ’19, and Minerva Vidaurrazaga Serrano ’18 – are particularly eager for the 2017 spring semester, each having received a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The scholarships, administered by the Institute of International Education and named after the 30-year member of the U.S. House of Representatives, are provided to U.S. citizens of limited financial means to enable them to study or intern abroad. Bowers, Davis, and Vidaurrazaga Serrano will all be studying abroad, and the three Gilman scholars in one semester is a record for Wooster, according to Kate Patch, director of off-campus study.
The trio will scatter across the globe, realizing dreams that they never considered possible before coming to Wooster.
Bowers, a psychology major who grew up near Detroit (Roseville, Mich.), is looking forward to making the 8,000-mile trip to further his studies in New Zealand at Victoria University of Wellington. “I chose to study (there) because of the unique bicultural experience it provides, the beautiful country that it is, and to experience a different type of schooling system,” he said.
Davis will be headed to Morocco via the IES Study in Rabat program. Having lived in the Columbus area (Worthington) her whole life, the sociology major has always envisioned going abroad to challenge herself while bringing home a new perspective to share. “I think one important component of this is … (that) the country has a mix of European influence and Islam. People have misconceptions in this country, and I want to be able to come back and dispel any myths to fellow Wooster students as well as the community,” she explained.
Vidaurrazaga Serrano, who calls Phoenix, Arizona, her home, will be in Chile to study public health, traditional medicine, and community empowerment within a Latino population. A psychology major who will be working alongside an organization focused on autism research there, she wants to not only gain a global perspective on public health, but benefit from some extra training to what is central to a Wooster education. “I will be able to learn about … research methods and be given the opportunity to conduct research, I’m excited for the whole experience, and feel like this will definitely give me an edge when I apply for a job,” she stated.
All three went through a rigorous application process to earn the scholarships, with some assistance from the College’s Office of Off-Campus Study, and now anxiously await their travels. Bowers said, “I am beyond excited … and more thankful than I can fully express,” Davis added, “I’m really excited to be able to explore a whole new country and really hoping to go outside of my comfort zone and grow as a person,” and Vidaurrazaga Serrano commented, “I couldn’t be more grateful … Gilman relieved a big burden and allowed me to focus on the program itself and not how to finance everything.”
Patch, who noted that Kelsey Coyne ’17 is a current Gilman scholar concluding her fall semester in Japan, envisions even more Wooster students taking advantage of this opportunity in the future.
“Wooster has a commitment to increase global engagement opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds,” said Patch. “Off-campus study already allows students to use all of their financial aid for semester programs, however, the Gilman scholarship allows students who truly could not go without this additional support. Costs should not be an obstacle for studying abroad.”