Petra Gaskins, a junior political science and global studies major at Rider University, has been awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
“I think the first thing I did was scream in shock and awe,” Gaskins says about finding out she had received the scholarship. “A lot of people had said to not expect the scholarship because we have had applicants every single semester and no one had received it, so I had put it out of my mind. To get it, I was really excited that somebody from Rider finally was able to receive the scholarship.”
Gaskins will study abroad in Xi’an, China, during the spring 2014 academic term and is one of over 700 American undergraduate students from 341 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected to receive the award.
“I will be studying the language,” Gaskins says. “My goal in China will be to learn Mandarin. I have a basic knowledge of the language but for a language like this, it is really intensive. Immersion is the only way to pick up the language. I hope to be proficient in the language by the time I come back. My goal is to learn several languages throughout my lifetime.”
Dr. Frank Rusciano, Rider’s director of global studies, was happy to hear Gaskins had been awarded the scholarship to help in her travels.
"Petra's receipt of this award is a reflection of the good work she is doing as a Global Studies major and a member of the Rider University community,” he says. “While this is a prestigious award, I know the United States State Department has chosen well; she will be an excellent ambassador for this country while she is overseas."
Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad program costs. The program aims to diversify the students who study abroad and the countries and regions that the students visit. The award is named after Congressman Benjamin Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee.