Two Meredith College students will study abroad this summer with the support of scholarships from the Gilman Foundation. The Gilman award is a prestigious national scholarship that supports students studying abroad.
Freshman Morgan Whithaus and Junior Vanessa Barnett-Loro will participate in Meredith’s Costa Rica Language and Culture program.
This is a first study abroad experience for each of the students, who say studying in Costa Rica supports their career goals.
“I chose to study abroad in this program because I have a deep desire to learn the Spanish language,” said Whithaus. “I plan to minor in Spanish and hope to pursue a career where being able to communicate in Spanish will be an important asset.”
Barnett-Loro, who is earning a Spanish major with K-6 licensure, selected this program because it will help her work toward fluency in Spanish. Another benefit to the future educator is gaining experience with another culture.
“I believe that firsthand exposure to the language and culture of Costa Rica will provide invaluable insight into the lives of students from Central America whom I will encounter in my classroom” Barnett-Loro said.
The Gilman Award requires that recipients complete a project after returning to the U.S. Both students have designed projects that will allow them to share their experiences with others.
Whithaus will be maintaining a blog reflecting on her experiences in Costa Rica, including a concluding post in which she plans to compare and contrast Costa Rican culture with American culture. In the fall, she will submit a column to The Meredith Herald about her experience, and how scholarship support made study abroad possible. She also plans to speak to students both at Meredith and beyond.
“I will make myself available to speak about my experience in Spanish classes at my former high school and at study abroad sessions at Meredith,” Whithaus said. “Through my project, I will have the chance to inform students [about study abroad scholarship sources] and to educate others about Costa Rican culture and the value of studying abroad.”
Part of Barnett-Loro’s project will also encourage Meredith students to study abroad through outreach visits to foreign language classes. She plans to conduct these in Spanish, as a way for students in intermediate classes to practice their Spanish skills. Her project will also have a community outreach component.
Barnett-Loro will design a creative lesson about Spanish language and the culture of Costa Rica that she will present in local schools. She will base the lesson on her study abroad experience. She hopes this project “will educate children about Costa Rica and will help instill global curiosity in young minds.”
“I am impressed by Costa Rica as a nation,” Barnett-Loro said. “I admire the country’s focus on sustainable eco-tourism, their rejection of militarism, their empathetic treatment of immigrants, and Costa Rica’s extraordinary dedication to popular literacy.”
About the Gilman Award
The Gilman award is named in honor of former U.S. Congressional Representative Benjamin A. Gilman. Award recipients are chosen by a competitive selection process and must use the award to defray eligible study abroad costs. These costs include program tuition, room and board, books, local transportation, insurance and international airfare. This congressionally funded program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and is administered by the Institute of International Education through its Southern Regional Center in Houston, Texas.