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Western Illinois University environmental biology major Stuart Bartlett (Macomb, IL) was one of three WIU students who received the prestigious Gilman Scholarship for 2016-17. Undergraduate students who are U.S. citizens, receiving Pell Grant funds and who plan to study abroad in one country for at least 28 days are eligible to apply for the scholarship, which is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.
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Stuart Bartlett (center), an environmental biology major at Western, spent six weeks this summer in Bhutan studying pristinely preserved old-growth forests.
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Semaj Arnold (Chicago, IL) is one of three WIU Gilman Scholars for 2016-17. This fall, Arnold, a junior engineering technology major, will travel to Kansai Gaidai University (Hirakata, Japan), where he will complete intensive studies in the Japanese language.
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Nicole Spencer (Galesburg, IL) is one of three WIU Gilman Scholars for 2016-17. Spencer, a senior, will participate in an experiential study abroad program in Cuzco, Peru, through the School for International Training (SIT). In her program, she will complete research related to one of her two majors, women's studies. (Spencer's other major is foreign languages and cultures.)
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Three WIU Students Receive Prestigious Gilman Scholarship

August 16, 2016


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MACOMB, IL — For Western Illinois University environmental biology major Stuart Bartlett (Macomb, IL), the prospect of studying pristinely preserved old-growth forests in an ancient Buddhist kingdom was "definitely [his] cup of tea."

A senior who spent six weeks this summer in Bhutan, Bartlett is one of three Western students recently named a recipient of the competitive and prestigious Gilman Scholarship. Undergraduate students who are U.S. citizens, receiving Pell Grant funds and who plan to study abroad in one country for at least 28 days are eligible to apply for the scholarship, which is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

The WIU Gilman Scholars for 2016-17 include Semaj Arnold (Chicago, IL), Bartlett and Nicole Spencer (Galesburg, IL). Each was awarded a $3,000-3,500 scholarship based on his/her individual application. While Bartlett has already completed his travel part of the program, in Fall 2016, Arnold, a junior engineering technology major, will travel to Kansai Gaidai University (Hirakata, Japan), where he will complete intensive studies in the Japanese language. This fall, too, Spencer, a senior, will participate in an experiential study abroad program in Cuzco, Peru, through the School for International Training (SIT). In her program, she will complete research related to one of her two majors, women's studies. (Spencer's other major is foreign languages and cultures.)

"The interpersonal skills and research presentation experience acquired through a study abroad experience such as this also cannot be understated," Bartlett explained. "I have been fascinated with certain aspects of Bhutanese and Tibetan Buddhism for a long time, and over time, I also became aware of, and was impressed by, Bhutan's unique model of sustainable governance and the Gross National Happiness concept, as well as Bhutan's status as a global biodiversity 'hotspot.' The program is very rigorous, but incredibly well run and has amazing faculty. I have to say the tea was excellent, as well."

Bartlett—whose Bhutan study abroad program was through the School for Field Studies (SFS), which hosts programs throughout the world—said he highly recommends that students seek research opportunities abroad, especially students interested in studying the environment.

"I encourage students to apply to an SFS program that fits your particular fields," he noted. "The people I had the pleasure of working and studying with have most certainly become a second family within only a short six-week period. I can only imagine the relationships and experiences one could develop over an entire semester abroad," he said. "Many of the classes in my program were focused on the ecology of the Himalayas, including plant and animal species, as well as local conservation issues and perceptions. Of particular use was the directed research I was involved in, which measured the effects of tree thinning on homogenous blue pine forests. This experience will undoubtedly prove useful for me in future courses I intend to take in botany and forestry," Bartlett explained.

According to Ehren Kuzekov, study abroad advisor in WIU's Office of Study Abroad and Outreach, Western students who meet the Gilman Scholarship requirements can obtain help with their applications in her office.

"I am the scholarship coordinator, and I work with all students applying for the Gilman Scholarship. I provide them with information about how to make their essays more competitive, and I review drafts of essays for each student. We also send students to the WIU Writing Center and encourage them to have faculty, friends and family members review their essays. I have served on the selection panel for this particular scholarship award, and through that experience, I have gained a clear understanding of what will make applications competitive," she explained.

Kuzekov noted that one component of being a Gilman Scholar requires student winners to complete "follow-on" projects once they return to their home campuses.

"Through classroom presentations, department presentations, blogs and other avenues, each of these students will be sharing their study abroad experiences once they are back on campus. The idea of this project is to increase awareness about the Gilman scholarship, as well as study abroad opportunities, to encourage more students to take advantage of these programs," she added.

For his follow-on project, Bartlett said he will create a presentation and plans to coordinate ways to share with student research groups this fall.

For more information about the Gilman Scholarship, visit www.iie.org/programs/gilman-scholarship-program#.V6jhqI68EvA. For more information about scholarship opportunities and study abroad programs for Western students, contact Kuzekov at (309) 298-2504 or via email at EM- Kuzekov@wiu.edu, or visit www.wiu.edu/studyabroad.

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (WIUNews@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations