Studying abroad this spring just got a bit easier for five UNH students, thanks to their Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships.
UNH’s new Gilman winners have received a total of $17,000 to study abroad in Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and New Zealand. “I’m thrilled with yet another successful Gilman cycle and very proud of the hard work of the entire team that supports students in study abroad, including my staff, our excellent colleagues in CIEGE and advisors across the university,” says Jeanne Sokolowski, director of UNH’s Office of National Fellowships.
This year’s recipients are Elizabeth Twomey, Emily Berry, Emily Wilcox, Miriam Arsenault and Vanessa Sihombing.
Elizabeth Twomey ’19, an accounting and finance double major who studying in Portugal through the Council on International Educational Exchange, believes her experience will provide a global business perspective to help in future career endeavors. “I am going to be experiencing a whole new culture for four months,” she says.
Twomey has always had an interest in studying abroad but wasn’t sure if she could make it happen. “I work at the financial aid office and was very concerned how I was going to afford studying abroad.” Then Cynthia Mills of the financial aid office shared information with her about the Gilman scholarship. “I became very excited at the fact that I could potentially win a scholarship to pursue my dream of studying abroad,” Twomey says. “This financial support means everything. It is what’s allowing me to study abroad without the stress of money.”
Her experiences at UNH and Paul College have been very positive, she says, and looking to her time abroad, she adds, “I am going to travel and explore more than I could have ever imagined. I am going to take full advantage of this experience by trying new things, meeting new people and growing as an individual.”
Emily Berry ’19 is a genetics major and a McNair Scholar who will use her Gilman scholarship to conduct research at the University of Zurich in Switzerland as part of the prestigious EuroScholars program. Her Gilman award will help cover partial tuition and public transportation from her apartment to her lab in Zurich.
“I will be working in a lab full-time, studying the role of miRNAs in memory formation of rats. I will also be taking some German courses, as per the EuroScholars requirement. I hope to learn the Swiss German dialect before I leave,” she explains.
Berry was honored to receive her Gilman scholarship and credited the Office of National Fellowships and staff member Senem Kaptan for helping make the experience a successful one. “I worked with Senem on my essays, and she was a great help,” she says, adding, “I think my experience with research and career planning at UNH has helped me determine my career goals in the field of genetics. I really hope that my research experience in Zurich will set me apart from other graduate school and job applicants.”
take Earth science, history and geography courses to help support her future application for a master’s degree in either climatology or geography.
“Even before coming to college, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I knew that it was a goal I was going to pursue,” she says. She did not know about the Gilman scholarship opportunity before connecting with the Office of National Fellowships. “When I won the scholarship, I couldn’t believe it and was very happy — and so were my parents!” Wilcox says. “I put a lot of effort into my Gilman application, and I’m glad that payed off.”
In New Zealand, she explains, “I will be living in university-maintained flats with other Maori students,” adding that in addition to her studies, “My goals while there include seeing my first glacier and going to Hobbiton!”
At UNH, she says,“My professors have been very helpful in answering any questions I have about my future and guiding me down the right path.”
Miriam Arsenault ’18, a communication sciences and disorders major, will be studying abroad in Ascoli Piceno as part of the UNH-in-Italy program. While there, she plans to take classes in Italian and work on obtaining a minor in nutrition.
“I had always been under the impression that study abroad was very expensive and difficult to fit into my schedule. When spring semester opened up and I found that there were programs and scholarships to make study abroad more affordable, I began to look into it as a potential option,” she says.
The Office of National Fellowships assisted Arsenault through the application process, providing feedback on her essays and serving as a resource for her questions, and the scholarship support is relieving much of the financial burden for her study-abroad experience.
“This year has been about challenging and expanding my knowledge in various areas. Study abroad offered the opportunity to do this not only through classes but through a real-life experience and seemed like an excellent chance to finish my senior year in a direction of growth,” Arsenault says.
Vanessa Sihombing ’19 is an accounting major who will be studying in Italy as part of a University Studies Abroad Consortium program in Verona, fulfilling course requirements for her minors in international affairs and Italian studies.
“I have wanted to study abroad since I was in eighth grade. At the time, I was participating in TRIO's Educational Talent Search program, and I was introduced to the concept of study abroad as I was learning about what college could offer me. International affairs and becoming a global citizen were always interests of mine; as a first-generation immigrant, I knew how great the United States is, but I also craved to see the rest of the world.”
She credits the Office of National Fellowships with helping to make that happen: “I learned about the Gilman scholarship through them. They were constantly sending me emails about new scholarships that I qualified for, and they really helped me during the Gilman scholarship application."
At UNH, she says, she has found support in and out of the classroom: Christine Zaimes, educational counselor in UNH's TRIO Scholars program “has been a constant resource for me as I work toward my educational goals,” Sihombing says. “I would also attribute my preparation for this program to the UNH Italian studies department. Professor Piero Garofalo strengthened my interest in Italian culture and advocated for the Italian studies minor. Last, my experience at the Paul College of Business and Economics has completely prepared me for my long-term work goals.”
And in Italy? "I hope to immerse myself in Italian culture as much as possible and work on my language skills," Sihombing says.
Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships provide up to $5,000 for study abroad in credit-bearing academic programs that are at least three weeks or longer. Since 2012, UNH students have received $218,000 in Gilman scholarship funds to support their study-abroad efforts.
As Sokolowski sums it up, “UNH students continue to have success in the Gilman scholarship competition because they are able to articulate compelling reasons for their choice of study abroad program and destination. They know going in what they hope to achieve through study abroad, on academic, professional and personal levels.”