• From left are Jurnee Coker ’23, Chelsey Forrester ’23, Gracie Orosco ’23, Michael Plawecki ’23 and Abigail Reist ’23.

January 10, 2022

Five Susquehanna University students were awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, enabling them to study in Cyprus, England, Ireland and Spain.

Susquehanna’s Gilman scholars are:

  • Jurnee Coker ’23, a psychology major with a minor in Africana studies from Danbury, Connecticut, will study psychological sciences and culture at the University of Cyprus.
  • Chelsey Forrester ’23, a psychology major with a minor in sociology from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, will study psychology at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus.
  • Gracie Orosco ’23, a strategic communications-public relations major with minors in professional sales and marketing from Ringtown, Pennsylvania, will study Irish studies and business at the National University of Ireland Galway.
  • Michael Plawecki ’23, a finance major from Exton, Pennsylvania, will use participate in Susquehanna’s Sigmund Weis School of Business London Program.
  • Abigail Reist ’23, a marketing major with minors in professional sales and legal studies from Jackson, New Jersey, will study Spanish language and culture in Barcelona, Spain, via Barcelona Study Abroad Experience.

The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables eligible U.S. students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, thereby gaining skills critical to our national security and economic prosperity. The Institute of International Education has administered the program since its inception in 2001. Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs.

Of the total applicants across the country, only 25% of semester program applicants receive an award. More than 40 Susquehanna students have been awarded the scholarship since 2015. The university has a dedicated program in place to identify and mentor students throughout the application process for Gilman and other prestigious scholarships.

Scholarship recipients gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies — making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.

Students to Study Within Their Majors

Both studying psychology, Coker and Forrester are eager to learn more about how mental health is addressed in different cultures.

“I want to be a therapist for children,” Forrester said. “Being able to understand how different cultures view mental health and how those values and norms contribute to different therapy techniques will give me a better understanding on how to communicate with people.”

“I want to be a clinical psychologist and this program focuses on neuroscience and psychological sciences,” Coker said. “My focus in my future career will be how culture influences one’s outlook on therapy and counseling.”

In addition to coursework, Reist will also intern with the Association of Organizations of Mediterranean Businesswomen.

“I hope to gain experience in various aspects of business, as well as an understanding of how cultural differences impact business practices,” Reist said. “I hope this experience allows me to become more appreciative of varying cultures and teaches me how to work synchronously with those whose views differ from mine.”

Orosco and Plawecki are both looking forward to immersing themselves in the respective cultures in which they will be studying.

“I wanted to pursue the Gilman award to help with my studies and understanding of foreign cultural experiences,” Plawecki said. “I hope to achieve these things by applying myself into religious services while abroad and by joining a nonprofit organization that focuses on cultural heritage.”

“I am so excited to immerse myself into Irish culture,” Orosco said. “I hope this abroad experience helps show my future employers that I am a well-rounded person with knowledge about other parts of the world.”