Four Gettysburgians receive prestigious Gilman Scholarship to study abroad

At Gettysburg College, education is global in every sense. Nearly 60 percent of Gettysburg students study abroad for at least one semester and—with the help of the Center for Global Education (CGE)—the College works to make studying abroad accessible to every student who is interested. It is a primary reason Gettysburg is ranked No. 2 in the nation for mid-length study abroad opportunities and No. 3 for total student participants.

In the past few years, several Gettysburg College students have been awarded scholarships from the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program in support of study abroad experiences. This year, the students were Leah Alexandre ’23, Treynise Tweedy ’23, Sohail Hajri ’24, and Vanessa Igras ’24.

The Gilman Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is open to U.S. citizen undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at two- or four-year institutions. The scholarship is an initiative that seeks to give as many Americans the opportunity to study abroad as possible. This is accomplished by removing financial barriers for students and focusing on increasing the diversity of both the people who are traveling abroad and the locations where they are exploring.

“This prestigious award is valuable to students as a career enhancer, including non-competitive eligibility for federal service,” explained Jesse Phillips, interim director of the Center for Global Education. “Although Gettysburg College has a very generous financial aid model that makes global study affordable to most students, the Gilman Scholarship can help fill any gaps that are remaining including visa fees, travel costs, and money lost from not being able to work.”

“Studying abroad is a high-impact experience that challenges students toward both personal and academic growth,” Phillips added. “It creates global citizens who help to advance the unfinished work that Lincoln called us to, and—to paraphrase Senator Fulbright—they are the best avenue of hope towards a more peaceful world.”

Read about how Alexandre, Tweedy, Hajri, and Igras are using their scholarships to make the most of their experiences abroad.

Leah Alexandre ’23

Majors: Studio Art

Minor: Anthropology

Global Study Destination: Osaka, Japan

Alexandre decided to study abroad with Kansai Gaidai University after discovering their art offerings. She aimed to use the lessons on Japanese mythology and fashion from these classes as inspiration for her work in her senior year art capstone at Gettysburg.

“I think it’s valuable to study abroad because you get to experience another culture that is not your own and you get to experience how they do things differently. It is also more helpful to be immersed in the culture when learning the language,” said Alexandre.

After completing her final semester at Gettysburg this spring, Alexandre plans to continue traveling and work toward her goal of becoming a comic book illustrator. However, right after graduation, she plans to apply to artist residency programs in New York.

For students looking to go abroad, Alexandre advises saving money and taking advantage of all opportunities: “Save up as much as you can and have a loose plan of places you want to visit,” she said. “Don’t worry too much about needing other people to do stuff. It can be just as fun to do things on your own! Also, when applying for the Gilman Scholarship, ask for help from your CGE advisor.”

Treynise Tweedy ’23

Major: Africana Studies

Minors: Political Science and Peace and Justice Studies

Global Study Destination: Cape Town, South Africa

When deciding to go abroad, Tweedy knew that she wanted to expand her worldview. “Studying abroad is valuable because it forces you to open yourself to new experiences and people. It can get you out of your comfort zone, enabling you to learn new things about yourself and the world.”

One of her favorite moments abroad was volunteering at the Sozo Foundation in the Cape Flats. “I learned and worked with students of color who faced systematic and structural racism due to the legacy of apartheid. This gave me perspective because I reside in the city portion of Cape Town which often pushes these communities to the outskirts, prioritizing space and money allocation to the white community.”

After graduating from Gettysburg, Tweedy plans to take a year to save up and then apply to law schools with the goal of becoming a family law attorney. She advises those who want to study abroad to “just do it.”

“If you’re applying to the Gilman Scholarship, my biggest advice is to be yourself. Explain who you really are and your true motives for studying abroad.”

Sohail Hajri ’24 in Barcelona visiting a friend also studying abroad

Sohail Hajri ’24

Major: Economics

Minors: Business and Data Science

Global Study Destination: Berlin, Germany

Hajri decided to study abroad so he could experience a culture that was different from his own. He was in the Council On International Education Exchange (CIEE) program and loved traveling by train to various countries throughout Europe. One of his most transformative experiences was visiting London when the Queen passed away.

“I witnessed a whole nation mourning for its leader, making it one of the most unique things I have ever experienced,” said Hajri, who plans to work in private equity after graduation.

“To all the students thinking about studying abroad, please do it,” he continued. “It may seem intimidating at first, but the experiences you gain will stay with you for a lifetime. To the students applying to the Gilman Scholarship, be thoughtful in your essays and don’t hesitate to reach out to me for any questions or advice.”

Vanessa Igras ’24

Majors: International Affairs and Anthropology

Minor: Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

Global Study Destination: Amman, Jordan

Igras went abroad with the School for International Training (SIT) Jordan: Geopolitics, Relations, and the Future of the Middle East program.

“I had been set on studying abroad given the importance of getting out of the American bubble when studying international politics,” Igras said. “I chose Jordan because the country has long played a pivotal role in the Middle East's geopolitics and international relations.”

While there, Igras was very excited about her internship at the Politics and Society Institute, a think tank that produces literature on counterterrorism and security. Still, some of her favorite experiences were immersing herself in Jordanian culture and meeting with Syrian refugees.

“I have learned so much from the refugees who are 10 years younger than me but who have the wisdom of a person who is 80. This experience has definitely shaped the way that I think about my life.”

After Jordan, Igras headed to the American University in Cairo to continue her studies in Arabic during the spring semester. After graduation, she will be pursuing a master's in counterterrorism to hopefully work in the security realm of the public sector.

“Living abroad can be difficult, uncomfortable, and terrifying, but there is no other time in your life when you will be able to live abroad with the support of the amazing people at CGE,” Igras added. “Make sure you reach out to them, be curious, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to ask for support.”

Learn more about Gettysburg College’s Center for Global Education.

All students who are Pell Grand recipients and planning to study abroad for the semester are eligible to apply for a Gilman Scholarship. Gettysburg students are encouraged to speak with the Center for Global Education about, deadlines, and the application process, including advice on writing the essays.

By: Cameron Jury ’23
Posted: 04/07/23

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