Gilman Scholars: 5 of 11 are A&AA students

Five of the 11 University of Oregon students awarded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to fund their summer 2015 study abroad programs are students in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts.

Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward study abroad costs. The A&AA students are: 
• Halley Anderson — Japan, architecture
• Josie Christensen — Palau, art and anthropology
• Alfredo Gonzalez-Cruz — Italy, architecture
• Zak Johnson — Japan, landscape architecture
• Amanda Oliver — Palau, digital arts and anthropology

Zak Johnson
Above: “I am a single parent and dedicated to my child and his upbringing,” says landscape architecture undergraduate Zak Johnson. “I come from a working class family and I have always had to work extra hard to be able to stay in school. I will appreciate studying abroad more now that I know what it means to get there.“

Landscape architecture major Johnson will participate in the 2015 Kyoto Summer Program. “It has been a dream of mine for decades to travel and study such gardens at their source in Japan, but until I began my formal education at the University of Oregon I thought I would never have the chance to do so.”

Johnson was accepted into the Kyoto program last year but “had to decline because of my son’s high school graduation and my lack of funds. I wasn’t aware of the Gilman Scholarship then, which may have made it possible for me to attend,” he says. “I’ve since focused on building a network of support around my academic goals with my instructors, advisers, and peers, maintained excellent grades, [and] made connections with our financial aid department about how to apply for aid and scholarships.” 

He continues, “The opportunity to travel to another country, speak another language, live within and learn about another culture is a most valuable and life-changing experience that will help me grow as a person and carry lessons that I can teach to others. I am also a singer and musician, and I hope to be able to find some folks to play music and sing with while I’m there!”

Architecture major Anderson will also participate in the Kyoto program, studying landscape architecture and watercolor painting, “which are both pretty new to me but I am excited to expand my architecture curriculum deeper into the realms of outdoor spaces and hand media,” she says. “I am thrilled to travel to a place which is so culturally different from where I grew up.”

Oliver and Christensen will both help to excavate a 3,000-year-old archaeological site in Palau for five weeks. “There will be hands-on experience in archaeological excavation, record taking, and laboratory work,” Oliver says. The team will also visit WWII historical sites, unique water features, and participate in a variety of other activities in order to experience Palauan culture.

Gilman Scholarships “are all about access—bringing the numerous career and personal benefits to students who are first generation in college, students from families of modest means, and students of color,” said Dennis Galvan, vice provost for international affairs. “The UO is not only a leader in global education, but a leader in making sure that every student has access to deeply enriching international experiences.”

Johnson exemplifies the spirit of Gilman scholarships.  “I certainly overcame some challenges to be able to accept the invitation to study in Japan. I am a single parent and dedicated to my child and his upbringing,” he says. “I come from a working class family and I have always had to work extra hard to be able to stay in school. I will appreciate studying abroad more now that I know what it means to get there.”

A&AA students consistently rank high in participation in study-abroad programs. In 2012-2013, 25 percent of UO graduates participated in a study or internship abroad program compared with 52 percent of A&AA graduates, according to the 2013-2014 Annual Report from the UO Office of International Affairs.

The UO now ranks twelfth nationally out of 332 colleges and universities across the U.S. whose students compete for the highly competitive scholarship. The rankings do not factor in the total student population of each campus. Because most universities ranked higher than the UO are much larger—some twice as large—if the awards were ranked per capita UO would shoot up to the top five in the U.S.

The UO recipients are part of a total of 1,100 American undergraduates selected to receive Gilman scholarships. The program aims to diversify the students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go. Students receiving a federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions are eligible to apply.

Halley Anderson
Above: Halley Anderson is one of 11 students awarded a 2015 Gilman Scholarship; five of the 11 are A&AA students. Anderson, an architecture major, will be studying in Japan. Photo by Aaron Rourke.