Three Nebraska Wesleyan University students will spend the spring semester abroad thanks to a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.
Dakota Folkerts, a sophomore from Sioux Falls, S.D., Gradyn Kershner, a junior from Hastings, Neb., and Aaron Onion, a junior from Chicago, Ill., have each been awarded the nationally competitive scholarship, which aims to diversify the students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go.
Folkerts, a political science major, will study at Nebraska Wesleyan’s sister school, Kwansei Gakuin University in Osaka, Japan. His interest in studying abroad was first piqued during his first-year Archway Seminar.
“My professor talked extensively about the experience and all of the great things that come from it,” said Folkerts. “It was then only a matter of where I wanted to go.”
With a career interest in international law, Folkerts said studying Japan’s rich culture and history was a good fit.
In addition to the Gilman Scholarship, Folkerts has received the Bridging Scholarship, awarded to 100 American students each year to study abroad in Japan.
Kershner, an exercise science and religion and philosophy major, will study at the University of Murcia in Murcia, Spain. His interest in Spain began through a high school friend who was a foreign exchange student from Madrid.
“Ever since befriending her and learning about her culture, I have wanted to visit Spain and experience it in person,” said Kershner.
Kershner hopes to improve his Spanish language skills so to benefit his intended career as a physical therapist.
“I want to assist people in their process of bettering their lives physically, especially those who don’t have easy access to physical therapy due to language barriers,” he said.
Onion, a modern language studies major, will study at Católica de Córdoba in Córdoba, Argentina. He said he selected Argentina for its rich culture and historical connection to soccer. Onion plans to pursue a career in the professional soccer industry as a coach or club translator.
“I wanted to go somewhere where English is rarely, if ever, spoken,” said Onion. “I can’t wait to get out of my comfort zone and really grow as a person while also improving my Spanish.”
The Gilman Scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Nebraska Wesleyan now has 56 Gilman recipients since the program began in 2001.