Three Rutgers–Camden students, Claudia Black, You You Jiang and Jaclyn Barber, have been awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Named in honor of the longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Gilman Scholarship awards students $5,000 to study abroad and participate in international internships. All recipients are required to carry out a “Follow-on Service Project” that promotes international education and the Gilman Scholarship Program at the students’ home institutions or in their home communities.
Black, a senior political science major in the dual B.A./M.P.A. program, is currently studying women’s rights and community service in Ghana. Now entering the final week of the program, Black participated in a series of seminars, followed by an internship at a local nonprofit agency. During her internship, Black has learned about the many challenges that women in Ghana face on a daily basis, as well as the efforts that various organizations are carrying out to improve the lives of millions of women, many who have been victims of sexual or gender violence, or who are refugees of violence. “It’s been a very interesting experience, one that I hope will guide me into my work as a future political scientist,” says Black, who graduated from high school in her native Colombia in 1992.
A resident of Burlington, Black believes that earning a Gilman Scholarship was a great step toward achieving her academic and professional goals. “It gave me a great boost, because the decision to return to school after a long time was not easy,” says Black. “As time passes, I have found great opportunities, and Gilman has been one that has made me stronger, and reassured me that I made the right decision.”
Upon returning from Ghana, Black’s Follow-on Service Project will consist of putting together a video journal, which she plans to show to as many cultural groups as possible on and around campus, especially those whose members are first-generation immigrants and are unaware of such available opportunities.
Jiang, a senior Spanish major, with a double minor in mathematics and European studies, will be studying abroad in Spain in the fall. According to Jiang, she will be digesting and deepening her knowledge of the Spanish language, as well as the country’s cultures, traditions, identities and decades of history. In addition, she plans to study Italian and its cultures, adding to her multilingual skills, which include speaking Mandarin, Cantonese, and Fujianese.
“The Gilman Scholarship is a life-changing award that will provide me with opportunities for personal growth and academic enrichments,” says Jiang, a native of Fujian, China, who lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., before her family settled in Lake Hiawatha. “This scholarship will also enable me to build a more diverse profile and lead me to a world of new experiences, discoveries and explorations.”
Upon returning to the United States, Jiang plans to hold an event on campus during International Week to showcase the benefits and advantages of obtaining an international education, and to emphasize the importance of the Gilman Scholarship and its impact on her education. The event will include an exhibit, titled “Taste of Valencia,” featuring authentic Spanish cuisine; the masterpieces of famous Spanish artists; and a portfolio of her photographs taken during her travels throughout Spain. Jiang also plans to offer on-the-spot Spanish language lessons for eager participants.
“This event will be the perfect opportunity to bring together the multitudes of internationally-minded students, faculty, and staff and encourage them to participate in and enjoy an experience that celebrates diversity,” says Jiang, a 2009 graduate of Parsippany High School. “I will also talk about the obstacles I’ve overcome as a non-traditional student in both the United States and in Spain. I hope to motivate and encourage my fellow underclassmen to follow their dreams and believe anything is possible if they put their minds to it.”