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Seven UW-Eau Claire students awarded prestigious Gilman Scholarships

RELEASED: Jan. 5, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — Seven University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students have received scholarships to study abroad in 2010 through the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

Sophomore Shayna Friday, Oconto, was awarded $4,000 to study at the Universidad Catlica del Uruguay in Montevideo, and junior Hannah Fritsch, Denmark, was awarded $5,000 to study at the University of Ghana-Legon through the International Student Exchange Program, ISEP-Direct. Sophomore Susannah Heller, Madison, received $2,000 to study in Costa Rica, and senior Michael Nelson, Mondovi, received $4,000 to study at Australia's Southern Cross University.

Junior Katie Rozwadowski, Stanley, was awarded $3,500 to attend the University of Limerick in Ireland, and junior Clare Wocken, Sauk Rapids, Minn., was awarded $4,000 to study in the Czech Republic through ISEP-Direct. Junior James Bomber, Eau Claire, received $3,000 to study in Australia through the Education Abroad Network.

Shayna Friday
Shayna Friday

Friday, a Latin American studies major, hopes that studying in Uruguay will help her acquire skills that would help in a career as an interpreter. For her project she will write a newsletter about her experience for her hometown and will present to Spanish classes there.

"This will be a good opportunity to see a new culture and travel outside my comfort zone," said Friday. "Latin America is not well known and many people have not gone on this program. I would like to give students and my community more knowledge of it."

Hannah Fritsch
Hannah Fritsch

Fritsch, an English education major, originally hoped to student teach in Africa, but a discussion in a theory and criticism class made her rethink her motives for working in a disadvantaged country.

"I decided that before I am qualified to teach my ideas and share my values with another culture, I should first learn from it," Fritsch said. "I must be a student of Africa, taught by its people and historic land, before I can become one of its teachers."

Fritsch plans to share her experiences with high school students at Altoona High School. She will read an excerpt from Ama's Story, from Ghanaian novelist Manu Herbstein, which recreates the experience of enslavement from the point of view of an African slave, and integrate it with photos and commentary from her trip.

Susannah Heller
Susannah Heller

"I also want to make students aware of the additional knowledge one acquires by leaving the familiarity of home behind and venturing to a foreign country, and hopefully persuade many to have their own experiences abroad," Fritsch said.

Heller chose Costa Rica for its warm weather, ecological diversity and the opportunity to improve her Spanish speaking abilities. She will share her experiences with high school students in her hometown to illustrate the benefits of studying abroad and provide information about financial aid opportunities, such as the Gilman Scholarships.

Michael Nelson
Michael Nelson

Nelson said he has wanted to go to Australia for as long as he can remember. He has worked for the local Boys and Girls Club for the past year and plans to share his experiences there when he returns.

"I was extremely excited when I got the news about this scholarship," Nelson said. "I knew it was pretty competitive, and I feel very fortunate to have been chosen."

Rozwadowski, a biology major, was attracted to Ireland for its beauty, Celtic culture and the core of science classes at the University of Limerick. "Plus, I love rain," she said.

Katie Rozwadowski
Katie Rozwadowski

Rozwadowski hopes to encourage students to make time to study abroad and to demonstrate how the Gilman Scholarship can help. She'll give presentations at the first biology and chemistry club meetings of the 2011 fall semester.

"One reason I have been chosen for this scholarship is because students with science majors are severely underrepresented in study abroad programs," said Rozwadowski. "With careful planning it can be done and you can still graduate in four years."

Clare Wocken
Clare Wocken

Wocken, a photography major with a minor in art history, chose the Czech Republic for its central location in Europe, which provides opportunities to explore notable regions nearby. She will document her trip through photos and writing, and post them to the Czech Republic section of the study abroad Web page at www.uwec.edu/cie.

"I hope that it will heighten awareness of and interest in the study abroad options in the Czech Republic," said Wocken.

Bomber, a physics major with a mathematics minor, will attend a six-week course on renewable energy sources entitled "Energy Tomorrow: An Engineering and Management Perspective."

James Bomber
James Bomber

"The Gilman organization had a special program this summer for science, technology and math students," said Bomber. "Not only does the program give me the chance to visit Australia, it will benefit me in my future career as an engineer. I am hopeful the experience and knowledge I gain this summer will give me an edge when it comes to finding a permanent career."

Upon his return, Bomber will give presentations to physics, math and computational science students on campus, and to the Eau Claire Robotics Club, which is composed of about 40 area high school students.

There was a record number of applicants and grantees this spring, said Cheryl Lochner-Wright, study abroad coordinator in the Center for International Education at UW-Eau Claire. She attributes this to a concerted effort by the study abroad staff and the university's Financial Aid office to spread the word about the scholarships.

"Current economic realities are making it even more difficult for students with high financial need to consider studying abroad," said Lochner-Wright. "We hope the success of these students will encourage others to plan study abroad into their academic careers."

The Gilman International Scholarship Program, established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, provides awards that allow American undergraduate students who receive federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by the Institute of International Education through its Southern Regional Center in Houston.

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RD/JB

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