NHS students land prestigious scholarships for study abroad experiences
02 Jun 2015
Two students in the Nutrition and Health Sciences (NHS) program have been awarded prestigious scholarships that will enable them to study abroad beginning in the summer of 2015. Maggie Dawson, a senior dietetics major, earned a David L. Boren Scholarship that will take her to Mozambique. Tau’Toya Broadway, a junior nutrition major, received a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for her trip to Ethiopia.
The Boren Scholarship is part of the National Security Education Program, which is focused on geographical areas, languages and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security. The scholarship provides funding to undergraduate students to foster interest in international affairs and increase competency in other languages and cultures. Dawson is one of just 171 award recipients this year. She will first study Portuguese this summer at the University of Florida (an aspect of the program that is only for students studying African languages), then she will attend the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, Mozambique in the fall before going on to work with an organization called Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) in the spring.
Though there will be many learning opportunities on the trip, the primary goal of the study abroad experience is to learn Portuguese, a language most people don’t realize is spoken in Africa.
“You think about it just in Brazil and Portugul,” said Dawson,” “but there are at least six countries in Africa that speak Portuguese as their official language… I originally was going to apply for the program in Brazil, but when I found out there was one in Africa, I couldn’t turn that down."
This isn’t Dawson’s first time overseas with UNL. Last summer, she took a trip to Ethiopia to study food security.
“It was a really cool experience. That made me more interested in going back to Africa, so when I found out there was a country that spoke Portuguese, I jumped on that … I loved Africa, I thought it was so amazing when I went last summer. I am really excited to go back.”
To apply for the Boren Scholarship, Dawson sought help from CEHS Professor Mary Willis.
“She was one of the ones that encouraged me to apply for it, because I wasn’t thinking about it,” said Dawson. “It is a really big scholarship and it wasn’t something that I expected to win. It’s such a long process, I thought ‘should I even go through this?’… But she really encouraged me."
In fact, it was Willis who helped Dawson find her internship position with CARE. During that phase of her trip, Dawson will work with the organization’s early childhood development program to develop case studies that examine the eating habits and food practices of families and children in Mozambique. It will be a research-based experience Dawson hasn’t had before.
“That’s something that will be kind of new for me and something that I don’t really understand right now,” said Dawson. “So a lot of it will be a learning process, but I’m really excited for that.”
Dawson hopes her experiences abroad will help her in the future, when she hopes to translate her degree into work in the global nutrition arena. She plans to start in the Peace Corps. The Boren Scholarship requires recipients to actively search for government work after returning from overseas, and the Peace Corps fulfills that requirement. Dawson, however, has always wanted to join, anyway. She sees these trips as excellent preparation.
“Part of the job requirements [for a global nutrition position] will be the opportunity to work overseas,” said Dawson. “Having that opportunity to spend a whole year overseas and see what that’s like, I think that’ll be important in deciding my future and my future career when I come back.”
And what about the cultural experience in general—how does Dawson, a Lincoln native, feel about plugging in to a culture so different from her own?
“We have a lot of different cultures in Nebraska,” said Dawson, “but I don’t think it’s quite as diverse as other places, so it’s so cool to be able to go to these places and experience a whole different culture… it’s such a cool experience, and I think it’s so cool to represent Nebraska in that way.”
Another NHS student, Tau’Toya Broadway, received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, intended to diversify the students who study and intern abroad and the list of countries and regions to which they go. Broadway will be heading to Ethiopia for the summer to study the nutritional climate. She says she’s looking forward to the insight she’ll gain through this hands-on experience. Her dream is to go on the medical school and become a doctor, then one day open a hospital in a developing country.
“I want to help in countries that aren’t as fortunate as us to have hospitals on every corner,” she said. “I will take what I learn in Ethiopia to help me for the rest of my life… There’s a lot of malnutrition, a lot of things that deal with nutrition in Ethiopia that will be great experiences for me to learn from.”
Broadway discovered the Gilman Scholarship (and the Susan T. Buffet Scholarship, which is also helping with her trip costs) through CEHS’s Ready, Set, Go! program. The program provides students who attend a Ready, Set, Go! seminar with a $1,000 scholarship to support a CEHS Global eXperience. The program also helps students discover additional resources to assist them in making their trips successful. Broadway says she feels more prepared for what she will encounter abroad because of the knowledge she gained through the program.
Broadway also says that, without the scholarships she has received, she wouldn’t be studying abroad at all. She says the Ready, Set, Go! program was extremely helpful in identifying resources, and she credits Professor Mary Willis and Dean Marjorie Kostelnik with helping her land the Gilman Scholarship. Both women read Broadway’s application essay and helped her strengthen her application. And now that she’s secured the funding she needs, she’s looking forward to going.
“I’m really excited,” said Broadway. “At first I was a little nervous because I’ve never been to another country, let alone a third-world country. But I’m ready, I’m so ready for it.”
When Broadway returns to the U.S. after her trip, she must complete a follow-up service project. She says she intends to write a children’s book to get kids in the Elliott Elementary after-school YMCA program, where she works, interested in studying abroad. She plans to have the kids she works with also design their own books about the countries they hope to visit and study in one day.
College of Education and Human Sciences
Nutrition and Health Sciences