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Two UW-Eau Claire Students Awarded
Gilman International Scholarships for Study Abroad

RELEASED: Dec. 22, 2006

EAU CLAIRE — Senior Emily Richgels, Middleton, and sophomore Amanda Draxler, Marshfield, recently received notification that they were selected as recipients for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

In order to be considered for the scholarship, applicants must write a letter of intent explaining their decision to study abroad. Applicants also had to propose a service project, to be completed upon their return, to summarize their experience and promote the Gilman Scholarship.

Draxler, a Spanish major at UW-Eau Claire, will be traveling to Costa Rica. She said she is excited at the prospect of being submerged in the Spanish language and says she hopes to "come back with a more 'native-sounding' accent." She added she also hopes she will no longer be so shy about using the Spanish language. After her return, Draxler plans to create a pamphlet depicting the places she visited, the topics she studied and the people she met. The pamphlet also will explain how she paid for the trip with the help of the Gilman Scholarship. Draxler plans to distribute the pamphlets to her hometown high school and provide the UW-Eau Claire Center for International Education with copies to distribute as well.

"I was so surprised and overwhelmed when I found out — it was almost surreal," said Draxler. She said that although the application process seemed like a lot of work at the time, it was worth it in the end.

Richgels is also set to study in Costa Rica, where she will complete her student teaching in elementary education. For Richgels' service project, she plans to set up a pen pal program between students at the YMCA day camp where she is employed and her students in Costa Rica. She also plans to present the experience to current and future teachers to encourage international study and teaching.

"I plan to incorporate my pen pal program in this presentation to demonstrate how much children benefit from international connections," said Richgels.

Jill Pinkney Pastrana, associate professor, foundations of education, got to know Emily during Winterim session in 2006. The course required students to spend one week in the Washington D.C., area working in a school with a highly diverse population.

"Her performance in this setting was impressive and gave a lot of insights into the type of person and educator Emily is very 'in tune' with the needs of her students, open and enthusiastic to new practices and cultures, and generally curious and competent in both professional and personal venues," said Pastrana. "She will be a joy to work with for her colleagues and students in Costa Rica, and a magnificent representative of UW-Eau Claire in the country."

This year, the Gilman International Scholarship Program received 1,189 applications for 407 available awards, which are granted up to $5,000. The program, established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, provides awards that allow U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a 2-year or 4-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide. It is sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Institute of International Education through its Southern Regional Center in Houston, Texas.

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CW/NW

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