Giving Back, Going Abroad – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Giving Back, Going Abroad

Three HWS Students Receive Gilman Scholarships

More than half of the students at HWS study abroad. Numerous students give back to their communities, both at home and while in Geneva. But few have done both at the same time. This spring, three HWS students – Akilah Browne ’11, Michelle Deleon ’10 and Jessica Thompson ’10 – will do just that. Browne will travel to South Africa, Deleon will go to Ecuador/Peru and Thompson will fly to the Dominican Republic.

These William Smith students will pursue their academic interests abroad thanks to their well-earned and prestigious Gilman Scholarships. These scholarships are designed to encourage American students to study abroad in order to complete a project that gives back to the community, either in their host country, at HWS, in Geneva, in their hometown or at their high school. This engagement comes in the form of a follow-up project.

“The Gilman Scholarship targets those students who are traditionally least likely to go abroad,” explained Center for Global Education Program Manager Amy Teel. “The committee is looking for diverse applicants in terms of race, destination and academic disciplines. They are also interested in applicants who are first-generation college students as well.”

Browne, a media and society and public policy double major and writing colleague, will travel to South Africa. She will enroll in four courses in Pietermaritzburg at the University of KwaZulu Natal alongside native South African students, completely integrating into the South African experience.

“For her follow-up project, Akilah will set up a pen-pal project between elementary school-age children in Pietermaritzburg and elementary school students in Geneva,” Teel said. “These eight and nine year olds will exchange letters about specific topics, including themselves, their culture and their hobbies/interests. She has even been in contact with several potential classes, both in Geneva and in South Africa.”

Deleon, an environmental studies and biology double major, will study environmental and cultural diversity and change in the Ecuador/Peru study abroad program. She’ll study under Professor of Economics Scott McKinney and Professor of Biology Beth Newell.

“Her follow-up project will be to go back to her high school in the Bronx to bring her experience to high school students with a presentation full of photographs, a journal and other forms of documentation of her experience,” Teel said.

Thompson is a double major in urban studies as well as Spanish and Hispanic Studies and will participate in a full emersion language and culture experience in the Dominican Republic. She will speak Spanish in all of her learning and living while abroad, taking Spanish language courses as well as sociology of the Caribbean and service learning courses.

“While in the Dominican Republic, I’ll be doing research so that when I return to campus, I’ll be able to show students on campus who think they cannot afford to go abroad know that there are many means to get them there,” explained Thompson. “I want to make it known that there are great financial resources out there to study abroad like the Gilman scholarship.”

The Colleges have a rich history of Gilman Scholarship recipients that Teel hopes will continue. “Hobart and William Smith students have gained a confidence and unique experience that has allowed them to go on to graduate school programs abroad as well as Fulbright research all over the world.”