She was surprised to find out, however, that she was chosen to receive the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. The Gilman Scholarship is a financial grant for American students taking their studies abroad. The program receives an average of 10,400 applicants each year, but only about 38 percent are selected to be scholars, according to gilmanscholarship.org.
Kate, who is a junior English major, is using the grant to attend the Spanish study abroad program in Montevideo, Uruguay, this semester. She hopes to complete a minor in Spanish while in Montevideo.
She found out about the scholarship through one of her professors in the English department, Dr. Todd Womble (’08), and decided to apply.
The application process included writing two essays. One of her essays talked about the importance of learning another language and the other detailed plans to write and publish a children’s storybook about Montevideo upon her return.
“I am a people person, and learning another language is important to connect with people,” Kate said.
After this fall, Kate will have experienced all three Study Abroad locations ACU has to offer. Over the summer, she studied in Leipzig, Germany, with the music and Bible departments and then traveled to Oxford, England, with the English department.
Kate said travels with her family have inspired her passion for the world. She moved to Thailand with her parents, who are missionaries, when she was 4 years old and lived there most of her childhood. Through learning to speak Thai, she realized the importance of communication.
“It’s deeply inspiring for me to be somewhere where I can try new things and overcome new boundaries,” Kate said. “I think it’s important to be around people who are different from me and experiencing that beauty.”
Kate’s family has a long history at ACU. Her parents, Brent (’93) and Julie (Griggs ’94) Pennington, met while attending ACU, as did her grandparents, Dr. Jack (’64) and Ann (Faubus ’65) Griggs. Griggs is former dean of the College of Business Administration and served on the ACU Board of Trustees.
“Part of the reason I’m going on this trip is to push myself out of this bubble and see what I can do,” Kate said.
She sees herself living abroad in the future and has considered teaching internationally after she graduates.