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December 21, 2016
By Celina Dietzel ‘17
Alexis Bell ‘18 was recently awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad for two terms with the Knox-Flensburg Exchange Program in Germany. Sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the scholarship allows students with financial need the opportunity to pursue academic interests and internships abroad.
While the selection process is competitive, with less than a third of students who apply receiving an award, Knox has consistently had a high number of students receive scholarships. "Our students' success in receiving Gilman Scholarships is evidence of the seriousness of their interest in international study and their academic preparedness for this study," said Brenda Tooley, director of the Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies.
Before receiving her Gilman Scholarship, Bell, who has worked two to three jobs since she arrived at Knox, had worried about the costs of studying abroad without a steady income.
"I took a leap of faith in planning my journey to study abroad. Although the Knox-Flensburg exchange program is considerably affordable ... as a self-supporting and independent student I knew it would take much more for me to feel comfortable financially," she said.
Bell first learned about the Gilman Scholarship from her Knox TRIO advisor. She originally doubted that she would be able to study abroad, but hearing about the Gilman program and Knox students who received an award gave her hope.
After applying for the Gilman Scholarship, Bell received an e-mail near the end of the fall term notifying her that she had been selected for a grant.
"I felt a weight lifted off my chest in a way that I had never experienced before. I called and texted my loved ones crying that for the first time in my life, I didn't have to worry about money. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude, accomplishment, and finally excitement to live my dream without worry."
Bell is an international studies major, and in Germany she hopes to understand more deeply the migrant crisis affecting Europe and the Middle East. She plans to focus her senior research on the crisis.
Additionally, she looks forward to becoming immersed in the culture and becoming fluent in German, a language she has studied for the past seven years.
"I ultimately hope to expand my own cultural perspectives and allow the experience to grow me deeper as a person."
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