NHS student earns Gilman scholarship for education abroad

NHS student earns Gilman scholarship for education abroad

02 May 2016    By Brad Stauffer

Eliza Brooks, a junior in Nutrition and Health Sciences, is one of 11 undergraduate students at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The scholarship will provide Brooks the opportunity to participate in an education abroad trip to Ethiopia May 23-July 1, sponsored by the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences (NHS) in the College of Education and Human Sciences.

“I am super excited,” says Brooks, from Visalia, California. “I wasn’t sure if my application was good enough to get the scholarship. I would’ve had to take a loan out or not pursued the trip if there wasn’t this extra help.” 

On the trip to Ethiopia, students will be examining food security and health and nutrition in Ethiopia. The two regions they will travel to are known for high malnutrition rates. “We’ll look at differences in population health based on food availability, accessibility, usability and sustainability,” said Mary Willis, professor in Nutrition and Health Science.

Students will do assessments that include weighing and measuring school children. They will examine the effects of food shortage on people and have the opportunity to observe and learn about the culture of different ethnic groups. They anticipate visiting the African Union, based in Addis Ababa, and some United Nations World Food Program sites.

“Forty percent of children in the regions we are going are stunted in their growth because of food issues,” said Willis. “It’s important for these students to observe and study nutrition here and abroad.” She notes that her students typically observe the results of too much nutrition in America, and that contrasts greatly with the malnutrition in Africa. Just 4 percent of students throughout the U.S. who study abroad select a location in Africa, according to data from the Institute of International Education (IIE).

“There will probably be some very unfortunate situations,” said Brooks, “but it will give me a good perspective of what we have here [in the U.S.]—what we often take for granted. Since I learned about this trip, it has helped me do even better in school, try harder, get better grades. Hopefully someday this experience will help me help people in other countries.”

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to diversify the variety of students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go. Students receiving a Federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions who will be studying abroad or participating in a career-oriented international internship for academic credit are eligible to apply. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to 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. A United States Department of Agriculture International Science and Education Grant, the CEHS Dean's Office, and the Malaika Foundation are providing additional funding for the seven NHS students participating in the trip.

Congressman Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee, commented, “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

IIE administers the program. The full list of students who have been selected to receive Gilman Scholarships, including students’ home state, university and host country, is available on their website: http://www.iie.org/gilman. According to Allan Goodman, president and CEO of IIE, “International education is one of the best tools for developing mutual understanding and building connections between people from different countries. It is critical to the success of American diplomacy and business, and the lasting ties that Americans make during their international studies are important to our country in times of conflict as well as times of peace.”

College of Education and Human Sciences
Nutrition and Health Sciences