Social Work Student Wins Gilman Scholarship
As a first-generation colleges student, Samiah Bansal has experienced a wide range of new challenges, along with innumerable opportunities, in the university setting. One of her biggest dreams was to study abroad, but the challenge of funding such an adventure seemed insurmountable until she followed the example of other FSU students.
“I decided to apply for the Gilman Scholarship because I witnessed many student leaders at FSU become Gilman Scholars. It motivated me to apply,” she explained.
Samiah, a sophomore in social work and criminology, traveled to Prague, Czech Republic this summer with a group of social work students to participate in the Social Work and International Affairs Human Rights Program. Throughout the summer, she visited several countries including the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, the United Kingdom.
Excursions during the experience took her to drug treatment clinics, HIV/AIDS prevention and care sites, human rights organizations and other non-government organizations (NGOs), including the sites of the World War II concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Terezin. Moved by these experiences, Samiah has found her horizon broadened and a new sense of confidence.
“Traveling abroad has taken me out of my comfort zone and given me more confidence than anything else I’ve ever done,” said Samiah. “I’ve learned not to doubt my capabilities during my journey. By immersing myself in countries with cultures completely different from own, I’ve become more open-minded and culturally competent.”
Samiah has also gained an international perspective on her career goals advocating for individuals involved in the criminal justice system. She visited courthouses, judges, Czech prisons and NGOs, including Amnesty International and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, that have given her a better understanding of how to help people in her community and on a global scale.
After graduation, Samiah plans to continue her education by attending law school to further her ambitions for advocacy in the criminal justice system.
“For students wanting to travel abroad, do not be afraid to ask questions and reach out to others for guidance. It was much easier to apply for scholarships and programs after talking to students who have already studied abroad,” advised Samiah. “For social work and criminology students, research what you would like to do and apply early!”
She also found that the FSU Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement and the FSU Office of National Fellowships to be great resources, helping her through her entire application process for the Gilman Scholarship. Since 2001, the Gilman Scholarship program has enabled more than 28,000 American students of diverse backgrounds to engage in meaningful educational experiences abroad.
To contact Samiah directly about her experiences, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about study abroad and other international program opportunities through the College of Social Work, contact Dr. Neil Abell director of international programs (email@example.com) or Emily Joyce (firstname.lastname@example.org).