Studying abroad is a common desire for Knox College students, but some may hesitate to pursue that path because of financial constraints. One of the options available to ease this concern is the selective Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which this year approved five Knox students for awards: Song Li '22, Alyssa Habschmidt '22, Joey Reyes '22, Phoenix Haessler '22, and Alex Davis '20.
Brenda Tooley, director of the Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies, explained that many of Knox’s Gilman Scholarship recipients wouldn't have been able to study abroad without the financial support the award provides. “I'm delighted that so many Knox applicants in this very competitive round received awards,” she said. “The students worked hard, and even when one does not receive an award, the process is well worthwhile as preparation for other competitive national scholarships and fellowships.”
All awardees expressed their gratitude for Tooley’s role in their applications. “[She] was extremely helpful throughout the entire process,” said Habschmidt. “I attended the information session for the scholarship and received many helpful tips and guidance on how to target and finalize my essay.”
“If you’re planning to apply, your document should be shared with Bren Tooley and Laura Bush,” said Li. “Since I was also in the McNair Scholars Program, I asked Samantha Leinbach, the Associate Director of the McNair Scholars Program, to look over my paper. Without the guidance, patience, and assistance of these individuals, I would have been much more stressed and much less prepared.”
Studying abroad will enrich students' lives and help them achieve their career aspirations. Habschmidt, who is interested in pursuing a career in mental health awareness, looks forward to completing a Gilman Follow-on Service Project. This project is a requirement for all Gilman awardees and entails a community service project to spread awareness about opportunities abroad. She says that the project “will be an extremely enlightening experience as it will not only help me actively reflect on what I learned while abroad but also help bring awareness of study abroad in general.” Davis, who sees himself teaching in the future, didn’t initially see himself studying abroad at all. “I chose this program to become a better storyteller and to expand my worldview. Thanks to the Gilman, a whole other realm of opportunity has opened up.”
Li’s desire to pursue a career in architecture made DIS Copenhagen an appealing opportunity that would allow him to explore the field. Reyes, who would like to continue to study politics after graduation, identified a need for international engagement. Similarly, Haessler’s interest in archaeology made travel to Greece an essential part of her plan. “This opportunity will also help me to gain new skills and experiences that I would not otherwise have. I hope that these connections and experiences will help me to get a head start on my career after my time at Knox.”
In this time of a global health crisis, international education is a complicated endeavor. Below is a list of the awardees and their plans to study abroad using the Gilman scholarship.
- Song Li '22 was planning to attend the fall term 2020 DIS Copenhagen Program and now is deferring to fall 2021.
- Alyssa Habschmidt '22 has deferred her study abroad program in Copenhagen to fall 2021.
- Joey Reyes '22 planned on utilizing his Critical Need Language award in Israel and learning Arabic. That program has been canceled, and he is applying to Trinity College in Ireland.
- Phoenix Haessler '22 was going to study in Athens in fall 2020 and has since decided to postpone until summer 2021.
- Alex Davis '20 is deferring his travels to Marrakech, Morocco, to a later time.
Above photo of Copenhagen, Denmark, was provided courtesy of Cathy Satyal '21. Below are photos of the newest Gilman recipients: Alyssa Habschmidt, Song Li, Joey Reyes, Phoenix Haessler, and Alex Davis.