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CWU students earn prestigious international scholarships for study abroad

(L. to r.) CWU students, Gilman scholarship recipients Kendall Kramer and Stephan Simes.Learning about human rights and legal protections in Peru, and developing Japanese language proficiency, while exploring the culture of Japan. Those are the objectives of Central Washington University students Kendall Kramer and Stephan Simes, after they were each named a recipient of a prestigious, national Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the funding will come to Kramer and Simes for study abroad during the 2017-18 school year.

Kramer, who is double-majoring in Spanish and public health, will intern fall quarter in Cusco, Peru, at the Asociación por la Vida y la Dignidad Humana (Association for Human Life and Dignity). It is a local non-profit organization that promotes human rights and legal protections in southeastern Peru.

“I’m looking forward to learning about the culture, developing relationships in this new community, and talking with locals, who are typically all so welcoming and willing to share their love for their country with me,” said Kramer, a junior from Bend, Oregon, who admits to a passion for traveling to new places, says she is eager to try the Peruvian cuisine as well.

It will provide good experience and training as she pursues her aspiration to join Peace Corps after graduation.

During the course of the entire upcoming academic year, Simes, who is majoring in Japanese, will go on exchange to Takushoku University in Tokyo, where he will hone his Japanese language capability while learning about the country’s heritage.

Simes, a junior, noted, “Receiving the Gilman scholarship offers me financial stability to be successful in Japan. Japanese is my passion. I believe that when people follow their passions, it brings good fortune and happiness.”

From Tacoma, Simes plans to finish his bachelor’s degree at CWU, attend graduate school in Japan, and “to become a naturalized Japanese citizen. These are big plans, and my journey is only beginning.”

Nicki Kukar, executive director of the CWU Office of International Studies and Programs, says the competitive scholarships add further evidence to the quality of the students at CWU, their academic programs and goals, and the support and opportunities available through OISP.

“We’re excited for these students and the experiences that await them,” Kukar pointed out, adding that 21 CWU students have received Gilman awards since January 2012. “Studying abroad is a life changing experience that enables students to learn about themselves, in addition to new cultures, languages, and new perspectives.”

Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to cover costs associated with their international programs. The goal is for them to gain a better understanding of other countries, cultures, economies, and languages, as a way to develop leaders for posts in government and the private sector. As students must receive the Federal Pell Grant in order to eligible to apply, the Gilman Scholarship specifically seeks to assist students of limited financial means in pursuing these opportunities.

The late Congressman Gilman, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years and chaired Foreign Relations Committee, was a proponent of study abroad, and was quoted as saying that it “provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1487, Robert.Lowery@cwu.edu.

Photo: (L. to r.) CWU students, Gilman scholarship recipients Kendall Kramer and Stephan Simes.

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