DECEMBER 15, 2015 | BY EDWIN SMITH
Two University of Mississippi students will be continuing their studies overseas come January, thanks to a prestigious international scholarship.
Robert Melton of Pearl and Chase Young of Hattiesburg are among some 800 American undergraduate students selected to receive the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the scholarship provides up to $5,000 for recipients to apply toward study abroad or internship program costs.
“I will be studying in Heredia, Costa Rica, at La Universidad Latina de Costa Rica for the spring semester,” said Melton, a senior majoring in communication sciences and disorders and minoring in Spanish. “My focus is Spanish, and I will take advanced Spanish courses.”
Young, a junior majoring in international studies and Arabic, plans to study Arabic at the MALIC Center in Amman, Jordan, for four months. “I studied Arabic at the same center for two months during the summer of 2014,” he said.
Both students are highly deserving of the award, said Blair McElroy, director of Study Abroad at UM.
“The Gilman Scholarship Program is a competitive scholarship program offered by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs,” she said. “Chase and Robert being awarded the scholarships show what strong applications they submitted.”
During his time in Jordan, Young said he plans to refine his Arabic skills.
Melton has never studied abroad, but has previously visited his destination.
“I traveled to Costa Rica once, in 2012 when I was a senior in high school,” he said. “I was there on a nine-day trip.”
The Gilman Scholarship program aims to diversify the students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go. Students receiving a Federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions are eligible to apply.
Recipients have opportunities to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies, preparing them to assume leadership roles in government and the private sector.
“Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates,” said Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee.
“Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator, in the international community.”
Both UM students have great expectations for their upcoming study abroad experiences and beyond.
“I would like to work in some capacity with Middle Eastern policy,” Young said. “At the moment, I am looking at working for the State Department or perhaps for an organization like the Council on Foreign Relations. To be able to be successful in this area, I must be able to understand and speak the dominant language of the Middle East.”
Melton hopes to enhance his Spanish language skills so he can more effectively utilize Spanish in his career and research.
“When I graduate from Ole Miss, I plan to go to grad school to pursue an Au.D./Ph.D. in audiology,” he said. “I would like to focus on working with both English- and Spanish-speaking populations.”
The Gilman Scholars Program is administered by the Institute of International Education. The full list of 2015-2016 recipients is available at http://iie.org/programs/gilman-scholarship-program. For more about UM’s Study Abroad Program, visit http://studyabroad.olemiss.edu/.