Gilman Scholarship takes junior to Rwanda

  • Lilly Frields headshot
  • Lilly Frields headshot

Lilly Frields was selected as a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship recipient to study abroad.

Frields will spend nearly a month in Rwanda completing research with the guidance of Amy Spears, associate professor of music. Their project seeks to better understand how Rwandan music teachers are integrating music into the healing process of individuals living with HIV.

"Due to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, a large number of Rwandan citizens are now HIV positive," said Frields. "A prevalent force working with genocide survivors - and helping to facilitate our research - is Musicians Without Borders." Musicians Without Borders is a nonprofit based in The Netherlands which uses music to inact social change. The organization works with individuals and communities that have been impacted by war, conflict and displacement.  

"Many individuals need to travel to the capitol city to receive HIV treatment, requiring them to take off work, leave their children, and interrupt the normalcy of their daily lives," Frields stated. "Musicians Without Borders aims to make their journeys even more valuable by offering music classes." Frields hopes to gain a deeper understanding of music's power to build community and aid in the healing process through her participation in music classes and interviews with music teachers and genocide survivors. 

The Gilman Scholarship is a nationally competitive program that assists students with study abroad expenses. The program aims to diversify the students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go. The scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Frields is one of 64 NWU students to receive the Gilman Scholarship since the program began in 2001.

"In my future career, I plan to conduct psychological research while exploring music as a method of healing; specifically, I'd like to explore how music can be a complimentary medicine to battle Alzheimer’s, a disease which has personally impacted my family."

Frields is a junior psychology major with minors in music and biology. She is a graduate of Nebraska City High School.