Six California State University, Dominguez Hills students will have the chance to travel and study in a new corner of the world after being awarded scholarships to help fund their international travel opportunities during the 2014-2015 academic year.
Of those six, four were awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a prestigious grant offered through the U.S. State Department that provides the financial means for a student to study abroad.
The undergraduates, Lissete Rivera, a senior double majoring in anthropology and Spanish; Wendy Velez, a senior in sociology; Xaisha Bailey, a junior studying sociology; and Kenneth Tyler, a senior in business administration, will be jetting off to various locales around the world in an effort to immerse themselves in another culture while continuing their studies. This summer, Rivera will study in Chile while Velez will be in India. In the fall, Bailey plans to settle in Costa Rica while Tyler will go across the pond to the United Kingdom for a year-long program.
Each student was encouraged to choose a non-traditional destination and received up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad program. Cost is often an obstacle for students who want to spend a summer or semester studying in another country, and the needs-based scholarship aims to diversify the students who choose to do so.
Two others — JuanCarlos Fernandez, a senior studying computer technology with a minor in Asian Pacific studies, and psychology senior Vicente Garcia — were awarded up to $4,000 each from the JASSO (Japanese Student Services Organization) Scholarship, which promotes international exchange between Japanese and overseas universities to increase educational and social interactions between countries. The students will be studying at the Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies for nearly six months starting this September.
“The opportunity to live and study in another country or on another continent is transformative,” said Joanne Zitelli, acting dean of the College of Extended & International Education. In addition to providing financial support, Zitelli emphasized that these awards are “also a way to recognize a college student’s merit and validates a decision to learn as a citizen of the world.”
Recipients will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of a foreign culture, different countries, languages, and enhance their worldview to make them better prepared to assume leadership roles in both the government and the private sector.
Fernandez said that the JASSO Scholarship helped fulfill a lifelong dream of living and studying in Japan, and his family couldn’t be more proud.
“They’re a bit sad to see me leave for six months, but to them it feels unreal that a member of our family has been given this opportunity,” he said. “I couldn’t have gone without the scholarship or their support.”
Bailey, a Gilman scholarship recipient, will be studying at the Universidad de Costa Rica for the fall semester and plans to use the experience as an inspiration for her future. The 19-year-old Ohio native plans to temporarily live in different parts of the world after she graduates.
“I chose Costa Rica to study abroad because I wanted more exposure to a different culture, language and environment,” she said. “I want to have a greater outlook on the world and learn more of who I am.”
The Gilman Scholars are part of a total of 1,100 students from more than 350 colleges and universities across the nation to receive the scholarship. Once the recipients return to the U.S., they will work on outreach projects as part of the program requirements to encourage other students to also study abroad.
“If you have the determination to leave your comfort zone and embark on what could be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, then do it,” said Fernandez. “If you don’t try, you’ll never know what could have happened and how you could have grown.”
To find out more about studying abroad, contact the university’s International Education Center. The office helps students through the process of selecting and applying for a study abroad program and assists them in understanding the costs associated and financial aid, scholarship and work study options available to them. For more information, visit the IEC in Room 136A of Small College Complex 1, call (310) 243-3919 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.