Two Allegheny College students have been awarded Gilman International Scholarships in order to help defray the costs of their participation in studying overseas during the 2019 fall semester.
The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program reviewed more than 3,000 applicants nationwide for 2019-20 academic programs, and just over 800 students were offered awards to participate in credit-bearing study abroad programs and career-oriented internships in countries around the world, according to the organization.
Yadira Sanchez-Esparza, an Allegheny sophomore from Salem, Oregon, says she will use her $5,000 grant to help pay the cost of the program in Argentina. “I will be studying abroad with the Council on International Educational Exchange Liberal Arts Program, which allows me to study at three different universities in Buenos Aires, depending on my interests,” she says.
Sanchez-Esparza is an international studies and Spanish double major with a concentration in Latin America and the Carribean. “I hope to focus specifically on gender in sexuality in Latin America, which has encouraged me to do an internship while abroad with a nonprofit that advocates for victims of femicide and domestic abuse,” she says. “After spending a year in Buenos Aires, I hope to have not only mastered writing in Spanish but gained a more intimate understanding of the geopolitical pressures that influence gender and sexuality within Argentina.”
Sydney Francis, an Allegheny junior from Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, has received $2,500 for her study away program this fall in Jordan. She is a double major in international studies and community and justice studies.
“Our recent run of success with both the Gilman and Fulbright awards shows that Allegheny students are ready to compete at the national level,” says Patrick Jackson, director of fellowship advising in the Allegheny Gateway. “The projects that Sydney and Yadira proposed to do while overseas were compelling enough to an audience of interested strangers that they’ve been awarded several thousand dollars to carry them out. That’s a big deal. I would encourage any Allegheny student interested in accessing the various government programs that support study abroad — Gilman, Boren, Fulbright — to go ahead and apply.”
The Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, thereby gaining skills critical to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness. The program aims to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries and world regions. The program also encourages students to study languages, especially critical need languages (those deemed important to national security).
Allegheny College graduate Emily Smith will travel to Brazil in February 2020 after receiving a Fulbright award to serve as an English teaching assistant at a Brazilian university.
“I will be teaching English classes in various subjects, and I will be spending another 20 hours per week developing and implementing a project of my choice either at my university or in my local community,” says Smith, who is from Williamsville, New York. “I should receive the information about the city where I will be living and working by the end of the summer.”
Smith is one of about 2,100 U.S. citizens who will study, conduct research, and teach abroad for the 2019–2020 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as their record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.
Smith says she was motivated to apply for the Fulbright to further her Portuguese language study and “begin to learn about an incredibly diverse country that is such an important player in Latin America and the world.”
Smith is a Spanish and international studies double major and has already done extensive traveling as part of her Allegheny learning experience. “Thanks to Allegheny, I was able to have some really incredible international experiences that I don’t think would have been possible if I went to another university,” she says.
“Emily’s focus on Latin America in her international studies major and a semester abroad in Chile have positioned her well for her Fulbright year in Brazil,” says Laura Reeck, professor of French and International Studies Program chair at Allegheny. “Her senior project looks at Colombian and Peruvian migration to Chile over the last 30 years and contributes importantly to an evolving field of research. She is poised to benefit enormously from a Fulbright year in the largest and most populous Latin American country, and one that is not Spanish-speaking. So as Emily teaches English in Brazil, she will also be continuing to learn Brazilian Portuguese and deepening her understanding of Brazilian society and cultures.”
As part of the Global Citizens Scholars Program, Smith received funding to do an independent study abroad program in the fall of 2017 in Valparaíso, Chile, during her junior year. She also had the opportunity to attend a conference in June 2018 in Pune, India, with Professor Reeck. In January 2019, she joined the Global Citizens Scholars Program for a week-long trip to the U.S.-Mexican border to learn about some of the pressing issues regarding border security and spent a day in Nogales, Mexico.
“As a graduating senior, the International Studies Program continues to support me — I received a grant from the department which will allow me to take Portuguese classes in preparation for my time in Brazil. I truly believe that Allegheny is unique in that it supports students in all of their interests and provides them with unique opportunities in their field of study,” says Smith.
Smith says her dual major worked out perfectly for her. “While I was able to follow my interest in Latin America through my Spanish courses, the courses that fulfilled my requirements for international studies allowed me to learn about regions that I was unfamiliar with, and broaden my understanding of global issues,” she says.
Besides her studies, Smith was the president of the Phi Sigma Iota Foreign Language Honor Society, participated in the Global Citizens Scholars Program and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mentoring Program, and was a Quigley Hall office assistant.
Between her graduation on May 11 and her Fulbright trip to Brazil, where she will spend nine months, Smith plans to return to her suburban Buffalo home and work. “I see living abroad for an extended period of time to be an important step toward reaching my career goal, which is to work in international development,” she says. “So more than anything I am looking forward to this opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture.”
Smith joins international studies majors Sarah Shapley ’20 and Kelly Frantz ’16, who earlier had received Fulbright awards.
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.
Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Fulbrighters address critical global challenges in all disciplines while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 84 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.
Dale Giovengo’s career as a foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State has spanned posts in France, Albania, Kuwait, Pakistan, Switzerland, Iraq and, now, Allegheny College.
Giovengo is serving as a Visiting Diplomat in the Allegheny Gateway during the 2018–19 academic year. Visiting Diplomats are career foreign service officers and specialists located throughout the U.S. who provide guidance and advice on careers, internships and fellowships to students and professionals in the communities they serve.
“It is rare for a liberal arts college to host a Visiting Diplomat,” says Laura Reeck, professor of French and chair of the International Studies Program at Allegheny. “Typically, they are posted to large research universities in more central locations.”
Giovengo lives in Western Pennsylvania and visited Allegheny last year to give a talk and meet with students interested in taking the Foreign Service Officer Training test. It wasn’t his first experience with the College, though: his oldest daughter, Leah, graduated from Allegheny in 2000.
During the fall semester at Allegheny, Giovengo has worked with students in the Law and Policy Program, participated in a Gator Day panel on diplomacy and development, and held office hours to answer questions and share information about opportunities with the State Department.
“It’s fun to educate students about what is possible,” Giovengo says. “The foreign service combines dedication to our country with very fascinating experiences.”
Giovengo has presented in classes at Allegheny and, in the spring semester, he will teach a course, “The Practice of Diplomacy” (POLSC 291). The two-credit course, which focuses on diplomacy as a means of solving major disputes in today’s world, will be offered in Modules A and B (January 14 to March 4, 2019).
As part of his work, Giovengo also visits other schools in Western Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Before joining the Diplomat in Residence team in 2017, he managed the Medical Services Support Iraq Program.
Giovengo’s experience in embassy operations includes roles as a human resources officer, financial management officer, management officer and contract officer representative. He has held a number of hardship posts, including in Iraq and Pakistan.
During his time in Lahore, Pakistan, Giovengo was one of only 20 Americans in a city of 10 million. “It’s an opportunity where you immerse yourself in a culture and interact with local people,” Giovengo says of the foreign service. “I tell students that, if they don’t like to travel, it’s not the job for them.”
Giovengo entered the foreign service after a 36-year career in the retail industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh and master’s degree in leadership and ethics from Duquesne University.
Giovengo says he appreciates Allegheny’s focus providing a rigorous academic experience and a supportive environment for students.
“I like speaking with students and hearing about their interests and goals,” he says. “I think their energy is catchy, and I enjoy that.”
Giovengo will host an information session for Allegheny students about internships, fellowships and careers with the Department of State on Monday, Dec. 3, from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in Room 245 of Pelletier Library. A bagged lunch will be provided.
Mark your calendars for 7 p.m. on Monday, October 22, in Henderson Auditorium of Quigley Hall to hear Ellen Yount, Allegheny alumna and Senior Vice President of Management Systems International, share her passion for international development and the challenges that she faced as she lived and worked overseas.
Ellen will coach students on how to prepare for life after Allegheny, how to achieve work/life balance (even as a 20-something), and how to demonstrate that you have the skills employers are seeking.
Co-sponsored by The Gateway and International Studies
Allegheny College student Sarah Shapley will participate in a Fulbright Summer Institute to study in Wales in the United Kingdom through one of the most prestigious and selective summer scholarship programs operating worldwide.
Shapley, a rising junior, is from Fairport in suburban Rochester, New York. She is a major in international studies with a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.
Beginning in mid-June, Shapley will participate in a three-week summer program to study identity and nationhood in Wales at Aberystwyth University. The students she will be among will be able to discover the National Library of Wales, one of the U.K.’s five copyright libraries; learn some of the Welsh language; participate in roundtable discussions with key figures in Welsh politics; and explore the countryside of mid-Wales, including a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage site.
“Upon learning I received the placement, I was incredibly excited and thankful to have received an opportunity that would enrich both my academic and personal experience,” Shapley said. “As a Fulbright summer program participant, I hope to learn more about the Welsh language and culture, as well as delve into and engage in a topic of study that interests me.
“I am also excited to meet new people and be immersed in a new culture,” she said. “I hope this work will enable me to have a deeper understanding of the concept of identity and nationhood, so that in the future I can apply this new understanding to whatever work I end up doing.”
The U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission is a bilateral, transatlantic scholarship program, offering awards and summer programs for study or research in any field at any accredited university in the United States or United Kingdom.
The commission selects participants through a rigorous application and interview process. In making these awards, the commission looks not only for academic excellence but a focused application, a range of extracurricular and community activities, demonstrated ambassadorial skills, a desire to further the Fulbright Program, and a plan to give back to the recipient’s home country upon returning.
“I think the fact that Sarah is the third student in a row that we have sent to participate in this program says something about the kinds of things our students are doing at Allegheny,” said Patrick Jackson, director of fellowship advising at the College.
“In a supremely competitive field, they stand out,” Jackson said. “The Fulbright Summer Institute in the U.K. is one of the most competitive fellowships that first- and second-year students can pursue and our continued winning of them is a testament to our young students’ potential. I think Sarah is going to come back from her summer in the U.K. with some new and interesting perspectives to share. If the experiences of our previous winners is any indication, she’ll also come back with a much better idea of how she wants to proceed with her education here.”
Each year, the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission supports around 60 U.K. and U.S. undergraduate students to undertake a demanding academic and cultural summer program at leading institutions in the U.S. and U.K. Fulbright Summer Institutes cover all participant costs. In addition, Fulbright summer participants receive a distinctive support and cultural education program including visa processing, a comprehensive pre-departure orientation, enrichment opportunities in country, a re-entry session and the opportunity to join alumni networks.
The U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission is part of the Fulbright program conceived by Senator J. William Fulbright in the aftermath of World War II to promote leadership, learning and empathy between nations through educational exchange. Award recipients and summer program participants will be the future leaders for tomorrow and support the “special relationship” between the U.S. and U.K.
Kyle Kanell has never left North America, but this summer his studies will take him across the Atlantic Ocean to Meknes, Morocco, where he has been awarded the ProjectGO scholarship for an intensive study of Arabic.
Originally from Beaver, Pennsylvania, Kanell transferred to Allegheny College in the fall of 2017 from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
From his first day on Allegheny’s campus, he began an intensive study of the Arabic language, completing four Arabic courses over two semesters.
Assistant Professor of Arabic Reem Hilal has been Kanell’s instructor this year and has seen his skill grow with each course.
“Kyle is a good fit for the scholarship because he has demonstrated interest in learning about the cultures of the Middle East, and the fact that he has taken all the available Arabic-designated courses this year, outside of intermediate-level Arabic, tells me that he is committed to learning about all different aspects of the Middle East,” Hilal says. “Being abroad in Morocco will provide him with more exposure to the region, through interactions with native speakers of Arabic and exposure to one of many Arab cultures. It will enrich his understanding of the region and its people.”
Kanell, a rising junior, is majoring in international studies with a focus in the Middle East/North Africa, and minoring in economics. He is also an Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadet. ProjectGO scholarships are administered by the U.S. Department of Defense.
“I knew from a young age that the military was the right path for me,” he says. “I also knew from holding leadership positions on varsity sports teams and high school clubs that I had great potential in terms of leadership. Contracting as an officer cadet in ROTC was the perfect fit to fulfill both those aspirations.”
Professor of French and International Studies Program Chair Laura Reeck is particularly excited about this opportunity for Kanell, as she was one of the first people to help him with his transfer to Allegheny and to advise him on studying overseas.
“Not long into the fall semester, he asked me when his first opportunity to study abroad would be,” says Reeck. “It was obvious that he was ready and waiting. I told him that he would probably need to wait a year. I don’t think he much liked what I was telling him. Not long after that, knowing that he is an Army ROTC Cadet, I came across the ProjectGO scholarship and suggested to him that he look into it. This scholarship will provide him with intensive Arabic-language instruction in Morocco, which will allow him to continue his Middle East/North African coursework and to get to know Moroccan society and culture.”
Reeck noted how intensive, immersive studies of language is one of the best ways to improve language proficiency and fluency. “Especially for a language that requires significant dedication to learning like Arabic,” Reeck says, “learning a language in context is incredibly motivating. Meknes is a beautiful city with a rich cultural history and heritage. I’m certain Kyle will appreciate that aspect of it, and I know he’s looking forward to learning more about Morocco generally.”
Kanell’s experience with Arabic at Allegheny and in Morocco will take him further on his path toward government work. “Immediately following graduation, I will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army,” says Kanell.
“By studying in Morocco on scholarship, my understanding of the culture, livelihood, and particularly my abilities in Arabic will become greatly enhanced,” he adds. “I am looking into becoming an active duty officer in a combat arms branch. After that, I hope to work for the government in either a diplomacy or intelligence position.”
Shannan Mattiace, professor and chair of the Political Science Department at Allegheny College, has received a 2018–19 Fulbright Award to teach and conduct research in the South American nation of Chile.
Mattiace said she plans to live in Chile for five months beginning in February 2019.
“It has been my dream for decades to receive a Fulbright Award,” Mattiace said. “Almost 30 years ago I lived in Santiago, Chile, for three months as a State Department student intern and have longed to return. I will be returning as a scholar of Mexican politics and hope to share my interest and experience on Mexican politics with Chilean students and professors at the Catholic University of Chile in Santiago.”
The Fulbright Program, which increases mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Only about 500 teaching and/or research Fulbrights are awarded each year.
“I am incredibly honored to have been chosen by the Fulbright Commission to be a cultural ambassador to Latin America, representing the long-standing ties between North and South America. I so appreciate Allegheny College’s support of me in this project, which has been unfailing,” Mattiace said.
“The money that funds Fulbright awards is carved out of the State Department’s budget, so folks in Washington definitely think of the program as an effort at soft diplomacy,” said Patrick Jackson, Allegheny’s director of fellowship advising. “One of the reasons I think Shannan’s project was chosen is the way that she was able to successfully and convincingly draw a connection between the work she plans to do on the Chilean frontier with Bolivia and Argentina with interests that the United States has with regard to our own border with Mexico. Chile is trying to solve many of the same complex problems with indigenous communities and migrant workers that the United States and Mexico are trying to address. As an American specialist on Mexican politics, Shannan is in a unique position to study what is going on in Chile.”
Part of her time will be spent teaching and lecturing on immigration, Latin American indigenous and social movements, and Mexican politics at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC), Mattiace said. The other time will be spent doing research, comparing indigenous communities in a border region of Mexico with indigenous communities on the western Bolivian border with Chile, she said. Mattiace also plans to establish contact with Chilean indigenous colleagues in Santiago for a future book project, she said.
“Latin Americans know far less about their neighbors and their region than many of them know about the United States and the rest of the world,” Mattiace said. “As a U.S. scholar of Mexico and of Latin America, I hope to bring a distinct perspective on Latin American politics to Chilean students. The research project on indigenous communities is explicitly comparative, examining indigenous communities in two border regions — Chile/Bolivia and Mexico/U.S. — that have been successful in keeping violence low through self-governance and autonomy in contexts of illicit activity. As Latin America is the most violent region of the world, understanding how to reduce levels of violence and crime is of intense interest to a host of actors, including U.S. policy makers.”
Mattiace becomes the 14th Allegheny faculty member to receive a Fulbright Award in the past 20 years.