The University of New Hampshire, recognized last year as a top producer of Gilman scholars in the country by the U.S. State Department as part of the 20th anniversary of the program, had its largest cohort of recipients ever this spring, with 11 students recognized.
UNH also had 11 recipients in 2019.
The Benjamin Gilman scholarship provides awards to Pell grant-eligible students who are studying or interning abroad for credit. The state department recognition highlighted UNH as one of the universities with the greatest number of scholarship recipients over the past two decades, with UNH landing on the top 20 list for medium-sized institutions.
This year’s recipients were NIkaila Dube ’23, Taylor Nydam ’23, Crismeily Borg ’23, Olivia Toole ’23, Steven Hardy ’23, Travis Carbone ’24, Secilya Williams ’23, Sam Hoffman ’23, Tristan Busel ’23, Allison Martin ’24 and Skye Flegg ’24.
In addition to being the largest group of recipients UNH has seen in one cycle, it also includes five students who applied with an eye to the future, planning their study abroad opportunity for next year (for each Gilman application cycle – spring or fall – eligible programs include those in the following three semesters, says Jeanne Sokolowski, director of UNH’s Office of National Fellowships).
“I’m particularly pleased that UNH students are using the Gilman timeline to plan far in advance of their study abroad, thus alleviating uncertainty around finances,” says Sokolowski. “Applying almost a year in advance means these students have secure funding in place, which is just one less thing to worry about as they work to make studying abroad part of their college experience.”
Additionally, seven recipients this cycle are STEM students. Sokolowski noted an increasing number of STEM applicants for Gilman scholarships, which are “specifically intended to help students from a variety of backgrounds,” including STEM, first generation, racial and ethnic minority students and veterans, she says.
Dube, a communication major from Sutton, Massachusetts, will be studying in Italy this fall. Having completed her major and discoveries, she will be studying “things that are unique to Italy such as Roman art architecture, Italian cuisine, intermediate Italian and intercultural communication.”
“Receiving the Gilman scholarship means so much to me, not only for the help in the financial department but also the opportunities it brings me and other students like me,” says Dube, a first-generation college student. “Experiences like being able to study abroad are often overlooked by students like me who think they are out of their reach. I’m excited to show students like me what options they have to obtain experiences like this.”
Nydam, a native of Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, who will be starting an accelerated master’s studying national security intelligence analysis this fall, will be in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, this summer as a result of the Gilman scholarship, studying Russian at the London School of Languages and Cultures.
“I believe the most beneficial aspect of studying abroad in Kyrgyzstan will be experiencing and immersing myself in a foreign culture and developing a more worldly perspective,” Nydam says, noting that she hopes to reframe the way many view destinations like Kyrgyzstan. “I want to break down the stigmas against certain countries and groups of people and educate people on their misconceptions.”
Toole, a health sciences major from Naples, Maine, will be studying at Charles University in Prague, taking primarily psychology courses in connection with her minor at UNH.
“I am very excited to dive headfirst into a city that I have never visited and become fully immersed in the unique culture of the Czech Republic,” Toole says. “I also hope to meet other like-minded individuals in my program and create lifelong friendships with other students.”
Hardy, an environmental science ecosystems major from Merrimac, Massachusetts, will be studying in New Zealand in the spring of 2023 and hopes to be accepted into the EcoQuest program, which takes place at multiple field locations in the country. Hardy would study ecology in the program.
“The experience and knowledge gained from a program like EcoQuest is one of a kind,” Hardy says. “What I am looking forward to most is spending time with the local Māori and experiencing their culture and how they interact and live with the environment.”
Williams, a wildlife and conservation biology major with minors in Spanish and marine biology, moved around a lot as part of a military family but will settle with her family in Roscoe, Illinois following her father’s retirement this summer.
She will be studying in New Zealand in spring of 2023, learning about the unique ecology and biogeography, as well as policy, management and restoration specific to the country. The work will take place at seven locations throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand, with field sites in Whakatīwai (home base), Poor Knights Islands, Leigh, Opoutere, Nelson Lakes, Kaikoura, Craigieburn and Arthur’s Pass.
“Receiving this scholarship validates my chosen study abroad program and will not only benfit my education and experience but it will also benefit my host country,” Williams says. “The Gilman scholarship prerequisites have given me a deeper understanding about my program to really think ahead to what I will be studying and how I will make an impact on myself and others in meeting my future goals.”
Hoffman, a wildlife and conservation biology major from Minneapolis, Minnesota, will also be taking part in the EcoQuest program, studying ecology, ecosystem management and environmental policy and planning. His work will include a directed research project, and though much of his time will be spent on the Northern Island, his group “will hike, camp and study all over the country.”
“Receiving the Gilman Scholarship means the world to me; essentially, it is allowing me to fulfill this dream I have had my entire life of studying in New Zealand,” Hoffman says. “I also get to be a part of a really amazing community of people who remain active as Gilman scholars throughout their careers. I plan to take advantage of this opportunity from the minute I get there until the minute that I leave.”
Busel, a homeland security major with minors in sustainable agriculture and food systems, environmental horticulture and corporate security from Rockaway, New Jersey, will be spending this summer in Ireland and the UK as part of a faculty-led trip across Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England that will include interviews with members of the Irish Republican Army and Loyalists as well as tours of Scottish Parliament, Bletchley Park and the Churchill War Rooms.
“The Gilman Scholarship gave me the opportunity to study abroad, which was one of my ultimate goals when attending college,” Busel, who has never crossed the Atlantic Ocean, says. “The individuals and locations we’ll visit offer a worldly perspective on security, culture and conflict. Without the consideration and acceptance from this organization, I would not have been able to take part in the homeland security study abroad program.”
Martin, a wildlife and conservation biology major from Dracut, Massachusetts, will be spending 15 weeks in New Zealand in spring of 2023, learning about the country’s ecology, policy, environmental management, sustainability and culture. Like the others who will be in New Zealand, she’ll experience time on both the North Island and South Island.
“As someone who has never left the country before and with little travel experience due to financial setbacks, receiving the Gilman Scholarship is my ticket to start traveling the world,” Martin says. “This award will give me the opportunity to expand my mindset and understanding of a different culture. I am completely ready for this experience to change my life for the better and I could not be at this point without UNH and the Gilman scholarship.”
Flegg, a biology major from Nantucket, Massachusetts, will be studying in New Zealand in spring of 2023, where she will be completing a minor in environmental conservation and sustainability.
“I am extremely excited to gain hands-on experience in this field, as environmental conservation is something I am very passionate about,” Flegg says. “I am pursuing my degree programs because I want to help protect our natural resources. It is a dream come true to have the opportunity to study in New Zealand, and I am grateful to have been chosen as a recipient of the Gilman scholarship.”
Borg, a nutrition and EcoGastronomy major, will be studying in Italy this summer. Carbone, an environmental engineering major, will be studying in Australia during spring of 2023.