SUNY Cortland senior Shanice Green won’t let financial or educational obstacles stop her from studying abroad this summer in Australia.
Starting in mid-June, the childhood education major from Valley Stream, N.Y., will spend a month observing classrooms and unforgettable cultural places “Down Under,” thanks to a prestigious national Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.
The congressionally funded Gilman Scholarship program, geared toward students who might not be able to study abroad because of financial constraints, will cover $2,500 of Green’s expenses, making this potentially transformational experience possible.
“Today, we are living in a very interconnected world,” Green said. “In order to be successful from a personal, intellectual and professional aspect, one must become a global citizen. Studying abroad in Australia will give me the opportunity to enhance my educational and professional development and also experience personal growth.”
In addition to learning about the country’s education system, Green will travel to see Brisbane, Queensland’s capital and most populous city; Magnetic Island, a small, mountainous island offshore from Townsville, Queensland; Cairns, a regional city founded in 1876 in an area far north of Queensland; and the vast, remote and arid interior region known as the Outback.
Green is only the third SUNY Cortland student to earn a Gilman award. She was one of more than 1,000 undergraduate students from 332 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected to receive the scholarship for this summer from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Institute of International Education, a not-for-profit education organization, administers the program.
“I always imagined that studying abroad would be part of my college experience,” Green said. “However, I never imagined that the road to achieving such a goal would be so difficult.”
After transferring to SUNY Cortland as a junior from Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y. Green realized that SUNY Cortland’s intense childhood education program schedule presented an obstacle to her long-held dream.
“I transferred in as a junior, and was behind in credit hours,” said Green, 22, who plans to graduate in December. “Many advisors and peers told me that I would not have any time during the academic year to study abroad because of the program requirements.”
Green had an idea to complete her student teaching in Australia, only to balk at the approximately $20,000 price tag for the combined summer and fall semester program called Australian Student Teaching (AST) offered through Education Queensland.
“I stopped and realized that there was no way that my family and I could afford such a costly trip,” said Green, whose parents had emigrated from Jamaica to the United States as adolescents in search of a better life and brighter future. While they worked hard and continuously sacrificed to provide for their family, her mother and father instilled in their two daughters — both now enrolled in college — the value of education.
“I promised myself that I would be proactive in my learning and take full advantage of all the opportunities that my parents didn’t have the chance to enjoy,” said Green.
“My mother was an Educational Opportunity Program scholar at Skidmore College and encouraged me to go for it and try to experience this opportunity,” said Green. “Studying abroad will honor all of their hard work and sacrifices that they have made for me to be where I am today.”
Green found a way to make her dream a reality when she was accepted into the shorter and more affordable Australian Education in the Outback and Tropical Coast program through SUNY Cortland. Participation entails a two-week seminar on the Australian education system as well as a travel component that provides a look at the Australian education system and way of life.
Green also received a $700 Willi Uschald Scholarship through the College’s International Programs. Together with the Gilman Scholarship, that partially offsets her estimated $7,400 in expenses.
According to Mary Schlarb, director of SUNY Cortland’s International Programs office, the Australian Education in the Outback and Tropical Coast Program offers Green an opportunity to engage with Australian educators from diverse schools and communities, gaining a deeper comparative understanding of different approaches to teaching and learning.
“This prestigious award recognizes Shanice’s outstanding academic and personal achievements, as well as her global outlook and interest in infusing intercultural perspectives into her future teaching,” Schlarb said.
“The Gilman program places a lower priority on more traditional study abroad locations such as Australia, and the fact that the selection committee granted Shanice an award to study in Australia confirms the high quality of her application. It also suggests that the Gilman sponsor, the Department of State, is interested in expanding participation by students in teacher education programs, who have historically been underrepresented in study abroad.”
In her short time on campus, Green has maintained a 3.72 overall grade point average while fully participating in campus life, first as a campus Green Rep to raise environmental consciousness among her peers, then as a residence hall administrative assistant and finally this semester as a residential assistant in Shea Hall.
Upon her return to the U.S., Green will complete a required service project.
“I will begin my student teaching at two economically disadvantaged elementary schools in my hometown,” Green said. “The plan for my service project is to volunteer at the after-school programs of each assigned school. My target audience for my outreach will be the ‘at risk’ students, specifically focusing on children 10 to 13 years old. I plan to give these students, who are facing much adversity and hardship in their lives, the encouragement and inspiration to take a risk and to study abroad.”
Schlarb urges other interested individuals to begin the application process for a Gilman Scholarship by visiting the International Programs office in Old Main, Room 219, or the Gilman scholarship website.
“We strongly encourage students in teacher education majors to explore the growing number of education-focused programs and scholarship options for studying abroad, and we encourage all students to come talk with our advisors about the growing number of scholarships available for study abroad,” she said.
“We believe more of our students would be excellent candidates for a Gilman Scholarship and a number of other competitive study abroad scholarships,” Schlarb said. “But students need to plan ahead so they have enough time to put together a strong application.”
Prepared by public relations intern Kate Monno