Four Students Receive Gilman Scholarships to Study Abroad
August 11, 2014
by Niki Acton '16
Justyna Dorniak will be heading to Japan this fall, with assistance from a Gilman Scholarship.
"The Gilman Scholarship gives me the security of knowing that while this will be a mentally demanding endeavor, it doesn't need to be a financially difficult one," she says.
Dorniak, an international relations major from Chicago, Illinois, is one of four Knox students to receive support from the competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad during fall 2014. The scholarship program's goal is to increase the diversity of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go. This year, the Gilman fund awarded the four Gilman recipients from Knox as much as $8,000 to relieve the costs of studying abroad.
According to Robin Ragan, director of the Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies, the number of Gilman scholarships Knox receives has grown steadily over the years. Knox now receives more Gilman awards than any other school in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM).
At Knox, 50% of students study abroad. The College's study abroad policies are a large contributor to that high percentage, with all need-based and merit-based aid following students abroad, making the option feasible for students who may otherwise not be able to afford it.
"Basically, anyone qualified can go," says Ragan. "The bureaucratic and financial obstacles are diminished as much as possible. What remains is the student's willingness and understanding of the value that study abroad brings to their academic and personal lives."
Also receiving a Gilman Scholarship is Chicago native Mark Muniz, international relations major, who will be studying in Amman, Jordan, as part of the ACM Jordan: Middle East & Arabic Language Studies program. "Being at Knox has prepared me by showing me the value of seeing new things from other perspectives," says Muniz, who looks forward to the experience of interacting with people from different cultures.
Also majoring in international relations, Tawni Sasaki will spend a semester at Beijing University in Beijing, China. Sasaki is from Simi Valley, California. "I hope to gain a more broad perspective of the world," Sasaki says. "The 'us' and 'them' factor between the United States and China is particularly interesting to me and I'm excited to be able to travel to a place where I can see the other side of the distinction."
Another Chicago native, Diana Chavira, will participate in the Knox Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Chavira is a double major in secondary education and creative writing, and hopes that her time in Buenos Aires will improve her communication skills. "The Knox experience reinforced my desire to study abroad," said Chavira, who has visited other countries but never lived with a host family and is excited to learn about a culture that is very different from her own.
According to Ragan, studying abroad is the "ultimate act of humility." A student must make a leap of faith into an unfamiliar environment to learn about people vastly different from themselves.
"Study abroad is a way of saying, 'What you know, believe, value, and think is important to me,'" says Ragan. "We practice a version of this in our classes every day. Knox students jump in headfirst to learn languages, customs, dances, religious practices, and a new set of values and perspectives."