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Eleven students awarded early Gilman scholarships

Eleven UNG students received an Early Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship with one being selected as an alternate.

Renee Clement plans to experience all of the college traditions even as a nontraditional student at the University of North Georgia (UNG). Before Thanksgiving, she checked another endeavor off her list, to study abroad.

"It was the only thing I was missing," the 48-year-old said. "I got the news Nov. 25 and just sat and stared at the email. Then the tears just flowed."

Clement, a junior pursuing a psychology degree, was one of 11 UNG students to receive an Early Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The 11 recipients are:

  • Luis Alfaro, a sophomore from Suwanee, Georgia, will study in Germany.
  • Renee Clement, a junior from Statham, Georgia, will study in the Czech Republic.
  • Uriyah Davis, a junior from Bainbridge, Georgia, will study in Spain.
  • Sawda Islam, a junior from Lawrenceville, Georgia, will study in Peru.
  • Phillip Ly, a sophomore in the Corps of Cadets from Forest Park, Georgia, will study in Japan.
  • Brittany Mann, a sophomore from Warner Robins, Georgia, will study in Costa Rica and Mexico.
  • Roxana Maranon, a sophomore in the Corps of Cadets from Canton, Georgia, will study in Spain.
  • Ronia Nevels, a junior from Buford, Georgia, will study in South Africa.
  • Madison Rodriguez, a junior from Commerce, Georgia, will study in the Netherlands.
  • Katherine Torres, a junior from Hoschton, Georgia, will study in Australia, China and Chile.
  • Megan Woody, a sophomore in the Corps of Cadets from Hayesville, North Carolina, will study in Taiwan.

Zdenka Janderova was selected as an alternate. She hopes to study in Germany.

Last year, six UNG students received early notification about earning a Gilman scholarship while nine more were awarded in late April for a total of 15, which was a new record for UNG. With a record 30 students applying and 11 receiving early Gilmans, UNG is on its way to a banner year.

Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant vice president for research and engagement and associate professor of English at UNG, credited the increase to close partnership with Daniela Martinez and the study abroad office in the Center for Global Engagement, which allowed better identification of potential applicants. Student applicants also benefited from a new staff member. Dr. Kathryn Quinto is the nationally competitive scholarships adviser for research and engagement at UNG after serving as a fellowships adviser for 10 years.

She joined the staff in September 2019 and started recruiting and working with students who are interested in pursuing nationally competitive scholarships on UNG's Gainesville and Oconee campuses.

"From essay brainstorming to revision suggestions and interview preparation, we provide specialized advising for UNG students to help them find and apply for nationally competitive scholarships," she said. "The process of preparing an application helps students learn more about themselves and their aspirations and helps strengthen their communication skills.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by the Institute of International Education, the Gilman program offers scholarships of up to $5,000 to outstanding U.S. undergraduate Pell grant recipients.

Nevels, a 24-year-old pursuing a degree in Human Services Delivery and Administration, said the scholarship will keep her from accumulating more debt as she participates in a service-learning program in South Africa.

"I chose the human rights advocacy track study abroad program … because South Africa is on the front lines of advocating for people," she said. "To help and serve on the front lines will be an amazing opportunity."

Ly, who is pursuing a degree in strategic and security studies, knows his trip will immerse him in the Japanese culture and language and help him become a proficient speaker. He said his fluency in Japanese coupled with his military career in the U.S. Army will help him achieve his goal of working in the State Department or being a translator for the military.

"I know people who have learned another language are several steps ahead of those who don't," said Ly, who plans to commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army National Guard upon graduation.

Students interested in learning more about nationally competitive scholarships, including Gilman, should contact for more information. Students interested in learning about study abroad opportunities through various programs may visit UNG's Center for Global Engagement.

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