With the help of a $5,000 scholarship, two Buffalo State seniors will spend the fall 2016 semester studying overseas.
Mckenzie Crawford (at left), majoring in computer information systems, and India Summers (at right), majoring in fashion and textile technology, are recipients of the highly competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Its purpose is to make it possible for students in good academic standing but with limited financial means to pursue studies or internships overseas. In addition, recipients must write a “statement of purpose” essay explaining their reasons for choosing their destinations, their plans for making the most of the experience, and any challenges they have faced in their efforts to study abroad.
Crawford became interested in information technology in high school, and that’s what she’ll pursue at Maynooth University in Ireland. “Computer science is a big field, and you can do a lot with it,” she said. “I plan to take web design and computer science at Maynooth University.”
Writing the essay wasn’t easy for Crawford because she has a learning disability stemming from a stroke she suffered as a child while undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor. “I went through a lot,” she said, “so I understand things better and appreciate people more. Going through difficult times made me a stronger person.”
She’s grateful to her boyfriend and her mother for the help they gave her. “Writing is hard for me,” she said. She’s also grateful to her uncle, who took her to Ireland as a high school graduation present. “I wouldn’t be able to do this without all the people who helped me.”
Summers plans to attend Mahidol University International College in Bangkok, where she will study photography as well as Thai language and culture. She’s interested in Buddhism, so she hopes to become “more in tune with my spiritual self.”
On her website, StudentofFashion.com, Summers has been investigating fashion and people’s perspective on fashion since May 2014. In Thailand, she hopes to investigate another aspect of fashion: the conditions under which Thai citizens manufacture clothing. “People are dying to make clothes for you,” she said. “I want to make social activism part of the conversation about fashion.”
Thailand will also serve as a jumping-off point for travels around Southeast Asia, to Tokyo, and to India if all goes well. “I moved around a lot with my mom when I was growing up, a lot of different apartments and some shelters in New York City,” said Summers. “It was hard but maybe it was a good thing, too, because it helped make me the person I am, and not afraid to travel.”
As recipients of the Gilman, both students are expected to do a service project encouraging others to consider studying abroad. “Describing that project is part of the application process,” said Tricia Herritt, director of international education, who helped both students complete their applications. “I’m very pleased that, of 12 SUNY students who received the Gilman scholarship, two are from Buffalo State.”
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is a congressionally funded program sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. It is administered by the Institute of International Education. The program is named after retired congressman Benjamin A. Gilman from New York, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee.
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