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Students receive prestigious Gilman scholarships for study abroad

RELEASED: July 1, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — Four University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students were recently awarded scholarships through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program to study abroad.

Junior T. Benjamin Fischer, Wausau, was awarded $4,000 to study in Miramar, Costa Rica, during the 2010 summer session through the Costa Rica for Nursing & Health Care Professions program coordinated by UW-Eau Claire's Center for International Education.

For the fall semester, senior Erin Byrne, Milwaukee, was awarded $3,000 to student teach at St. Anthony's School in Kilcoole, Ireland, and senior Benjamin Zenda, Eau Claire, was awarded $5,000 to student teach at the Prague British School in the Czech Republic through placements arranged by the EducatorsAbroad Student Teaching program.

Junior Adam Coonen, Neenah, was awarded $5,000 to study at the University of Ghana, Legon, in West Africa for the 2010-11 academic year through the International Student Exchange Program, ISEP-Direct Ghana.

T. Benjamin Fischer
T. Benjamin Fischer

Fischer, a nursing major with a minor in Spanish for health professions, is spending the summer session in Mirimar, taking classes taught by professors from Nicaraguan and Costa Rican universities. He is studying cultural sensitivity and all levels of the Costa Rican health care system, from local to national. Fischer also is taking a Spanish class that focuses on medical terminology and communications with Latino patients.

"I am hoping to improve my Spanish to the point where I can easily translate for a patient's needs, wishes and other things," Fischer said. "I want to build a strong relationship with my host family and become totally immersed in the Costa Rican culture."

Erin Byrne
Erin Byrne

Byrne is an elementary education major with a minor in general science. The Gilman Scholarship Program requires students to propose a service project related to their study abroad experience. In preparation for her assignment, Byrne is creating podcasts about recycling with seventh and eighth graders. Once in Ireland, her elementary students will view the podcasts to learn about American recycling efforts and create podcasts of their own for Byrne to bring back.

"I look forward to learning about how the teachers encourage students in science because test scores show that Ireland is ahead of the United States in that subject area," Byrne said. "In addition, I am excited to see the different uses fortechnology in the classroom and the response to my project."

Benjamin Zenda
Benjamin Zenda

Zenda, a social studies major, will meet half of his professional semester requirements for graduation and licensure upon the successful completion of 14 weeks of student teaching.

"Prague British School is an international school with a global student body. I believe the development of new perceptions inherent in studying various world views will not only strengthen my teaching, but also the learning of my future students," said Zenda.

Upon his return, Zenda will inform area high school students about the accessibility of a college education and conduct classroom presentations about the benefits of his experiences through the Gilman Scholarship and international education at UW-Eau Claire.

Adam Coonen
Adam Coonen

Coonen, a political science major, hopes to broaden his knowledge of the developing world and looks forward to participating in a student-faculty research project during his stay. He will study Twi, the local language in Ghana, and will take Swahili course work.

"My biggest concern is learning the languages because that will increase my chances of getting into the Peace Corps and doing development work in Africa," Coonen said. "I know I would like to do something in the humanitarian field in the future."

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 two- or four-year colleges or universities 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, Texas.

For more information, contact Colleen Marchwick, study abroad coordinator in the Center for International Education, at marchwcc@uwec.edu.

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RD/DW

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