FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 11, 2010
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081
TWO MTSU STUDENTS CAPTURE COVETED GILMAN SCHOLARSHIPS
Concrete Industry, Radio/TV Majors from ‘Boro, Whiteville to Study in Mexico, Japan
(MURFREESBORO) - Two MTSU students are recipients of the 2010 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, one of the most prestigious study abroad stipends in the nation. Murfreesboro’s Brock Downing, a junior concrete industry management major, and Whitney Rhodes, a junior radio/television major from Whiteville, will use their opportunities in very different ways.
Rhodes, whose minors are art and Japanese, will attend Saitama University in Japan in the spring 2010 semester. She says she has always been interested in the nation’s fashion, culture and history, but she did not want to learn about them from a distance.
“I don’t want to be a tourist and marvel, taking pictures of everything and asking questions IN ENGLISH,” Rhodes writes in an e-mail interview. “In order to be a less bothersome visitor in another country, I would like to know the language first.”
Rhodes’ major and her other minor also lend themselves to the study abroad experience. She says she hopes to use the popularity of American film in Japan to expand her vision as a documentarian.
“Being able to convey your ideas to other people will greatly influence how well your production goes if you are a producer,” Rhodes writes. “I’m sure it would be wise to have skills in writing and art to get your ideas across. So the art minor will really be of great benefit to me when I need to translate ideas into something tangible.”
Downing’s interests, on the other hand, are all about “something tangible”—or, to put it another way, “concrete.” A 27-year-old nontraditional student, Downing’s major is also nontraditional for a study-abroad scholarship winner. His scholarship resulted from a special pilot award cycle for majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field disciplines.
“These trips have always been geared toward people who were in the foreign languages department or international affairs or something like that,” says Downing. “But there’s definitely a need. We have to deal with foreign companies a lot, and there are a lot of opportunities out there.”
With a mandatory business minor and a second minor in Spanish, Downing will study during the summer 2010 semester at the Centro KIIS in Morelia. This new classroom serves as the instructional facility and administrative center for all programs in Mexico offered through the Kentucky Institute for International Studies, a consortium of colleges and universities dedicated to promoting international education.
Downing points out that the number of Hispanics in the construction business and the United States’ efforts at becoming less dependent on foreign concrete create a demand for personnel who can bridge cultural divides.
“The way to achieve that is with new ideas and the ability to communicate with a variety of people from the people laying the concrete to the guy who owns the company,” says Downing.
“The Gilman Scholarship Program seeks to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go,” says Education Abroad Director Rhonda Waller. “Specifically, the Gilman Program offers scholarships for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in education abroad.”
Funded by Congress and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Gilman Scholarship program provides “grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad,” states the program’s Web site.
Recipients are selected competitively for these grants, which are used for such expenses as “program tuition, room and board, books, local transportation, insurance and international airfare.”
“Gilman also requires that students complete their service projects upon their return home,” says Waller. “Those service projects help to get the word out about the value of study abroad. So this program keeps paying dividends to our campus even after students receive their awards.”
To find out more about MTSU’s study abroad opportunities, contact the MTSU Office of Education Abroad and Student Exchange at 615-898-5179 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Gilman Scholarships, go to www.iie.org/gilman.
ATTENTION, MEDIA: For color jpeg photos of Whitney Rhodes and Brock Downing, contact Gina Logue in the MTSU Office of News and Public Affairs at 615-898-5081 or email@example.com.
With three Nobel Prize winners among its alumni and former faculty, Middle Tennessee State University confers master’s degrees in 10 areas, the Specialist in Education degree, the Doctor of Arts degree and the Doctor of Philosophy degree. MTSU is ranked among the top 100 public universities in the nation in the Forbes “America’s Best Colleges” 2009 survey.