NU students win prestigious awards for international engagement

July 11, 2014

University of Nebraska students are continuing to compete successfully for prestigious scholarships that support study abroad and other international engagement opportunities.

Eight NU students have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships and 19 have received Gilman Scholarships for this summer and the coming year, including 12 Gilman winners at UNL whose awards were recently announced. Both the Gilman and Fulbright programs are supported by the U.S. Department of State and are highly prestigious and competitive. NU’s academically diverse winners, representing the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Nebraska at Omaha, will participate in teaching, research and other scholarly activities in a total of 20 countries, including South Korea, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Russia and Ethiopia.

Josh Davis, assistant vice president for global strategy and international initiatives, said the University of Nebraska places a high priority on providing students a global perspective and as a result, NU students have been consistently successful on a global platform. The university’s global agenda is driven by goals to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with institutions around the world, encourage faculty collaborations in critical areas like water and food security and early childhood education, and foster rich opportunities for exchanges that position students for success in today’s global economy.

For example, in 2013, the Office of the President funded four NU students to study at Ataturk University in Erzurum, Turkey, as part of an effort to reinvigorate a relationship that was established between NU and Ataturk more than 50 years ago. Sixteen NU students have studied at Ataturk University this summer.

Shelby Andersen-Holt, a UNO international studies major, was a faculty-nominated student participant on the 2013 trip – and the experience left a lasting impression.

“The value of really seeing and experiencing another country cannot be overstated,” Andersen-Holt said. “The lines between respect and cultural appropriation, social norm and religious rite are much more elegant and human than textbooks are able to articulate. Study abroad experiences help to raise new questions and garner a more astute consciousness in Nebraska students.”

Andersen-Holt will return to Turkey in August thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship. While there, she will teach English full-time, serving as a cultural ambassador, helping to enhance the mutual understanding between Americans and Turkish citizens. Andersen-Holt credits her previous visit to Ataturk University and guidance of NU leadership and faculty as the inspiration to apply for the scholarship program.

“I remember every day how blessed I am to have gone to a university that values study abroad experiences enough to develop the program in which I participated last summer,” she said. “I think it’s important to thank and encourage professors, administrators and donors who make these things happen, because their selfless efforts set students up for success.”

Davis said the university orchestrates short-term study opportunities like the one to Ataturk University to encourage students to make connections and inspire them to pursue more in-depth opportunities to study abroad. In recent years the university has created new study abroad opportunities in Brazil, India and other countries that serve as strategic partners for Nebraska.

Davis credited Tom Farrell, former NU vice provost for global engagement, for helping to draw more attention to prestigious national scholarship programs. Farrell, who significantly advanced the university’s global agenda through collaborative efforts with the four NU campuses, federal and state government institutions, and international agencies, is now senior adviser to the chancellor for international affairs at UNL.

The Fulbright Scholarship is designed to give students the opportunity to conduct research, study or teach internationally. It was established in 1946 with a mission of developing mutual understanding between the United States and other countries.

The Gilman International Scholarship Program offers grants to undergraduate students of limited financial means to participate in study abroad experiences in non-traditional destinations. It is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and was established in 2000.

In addition to Andersen-Holt, NU award winners for this summer and coming academic year are:

Fulbright winners

Gilman winners (summer 2014)

  • Mirvat Al-Hajj, UNL, who will travel to South Africa to learn about the history and culture of the country and to Ethiopia to study food security, nutrition and health.
  • Jazmin Castillo, UNL, who will travel to Botswana to learn about conservation in Southern Africa.
  • Selwan Fadhil, UNL, who will study in the United Arab Emirates, taking classes at the American University of Sharjah.
  • Katie Farris, UNL, who will travel to Botswana to learn about conservation in Southern Africa.
  • Jessica Hughes, UNL, who will travel to Costa Rica to take Spanish language and Latin American culture classes at Veritas University.
  • Shane Kleier, UNL, who will participate in the UNL Nebraska at Oxford program, administered through the College of Business. While at Oxford, he will take economics and theatre courses.
  • Jacob Manyang, UNL, who will travel to Ethiopia to study food security, nutrition and health.
  • Emanuel Maldonado, UNL, who will study in Spain at the University of Deusto through a program sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages.
  • Hope Npimnee, UNL, who will participate in an internship program in Brazil focusing on minority health disparities.
  • Anastasia Sanderson, UNL, who will participate in an internship in Australia to earn credit toward a degree in biological systems engineering.
  • Flor Villanueva, UNL, who will study in Morocco through a program co-sponsored by UNL and the University of Minnesota. Villanueva will study Arabic language and culture.
  • Marna Wiu, UNL, who will study in Madagascar, focusing on traditional medicine and health care systems.

Gilman winners (fall 2014)

  • Harrison Le Frois, UNO, who will travel to Russia to participate in the “Math in Moscow” program at Independent University of Moscow, where he will study mathematics and the Russian language.
  • Joseph McGuire, UNO, who will travel to Ireland, where he will study at the University College in Cork to learn about global health and how healthcare is administered in other countries.
  • Kevin McNear, UNO, who will travel to study in Costa Rica.
  • Erin Smith, UNO, who will travel to study in India.
  • Emily Tolliver, UNO, who will travel to study in Costa Rica.
  • Jenna Sandin, UNL, who will travel to South Korea.
  • Taryn Sandin, UNL, who will travel to South Korea.
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