by Andrea JudyManagerial sciences student Jiehan Abdolwahb always knew that studying abroad would be part of her college experience. Growing up with parents from Ethiopia, international ways of looking at the world have always been a part of her life. “My parents have always encouraged me to travel internationally,” she said.
Her classes in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business have grown her love of the international. “I’m in international business right now, and I get so excited about looking at the world through different lenses!” Abdolwahb said. With guidance from the Study Abroad Programs Office in the Office of International Initiatives, she discovered the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and her chance to experience studying abroad.
The Gilman Scholarship Program, named after retired congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, strives to enable students to study in non-traditional destinations, especially those outside of Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The program endeavors to provide students who might not otherwise be able to study overseas the resources to see the world at large. The awarded amount varies based on a student’s rank in the selection process, his/her financial need and length of study. The program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State and is supported through an annual Congressional appropriation.
Among more than 5,000 applicants, Abdolwahb was stunned to be selected as a recipient. “This is the first time I’ve ever even applied for a scholarship!” she said. Two students from Georgia State, Abdolwahb and Jasmine Choi, received the spring 2016 award, along with more than 800 undergraduate students from 355 colleges and universities.
Flying to Hong Kong on January 5, Abdolwahb will spend her spring 2016 semester taking upper-level management classes in a new country. “I’ve always wanted to go to Hong Kong, but it just never seemed like an option. Now I can do it!” She’s thrilled about remaining on track to graduate in May of 2017 while learning about a new culture.
While in Hong Kong, Abdolwahb plans to travel to other nearby countries. “For their anniversary, my parents went to Thailand and rode the elephants, so I’m going to try to do that for my birthday while I’m in Hong Kong!” Abdolwahb said. She hopes to visit several countries while abroad.
As part of the Gilman Scholarship, a service project is required. Abdolwahb has several ideas about how to best share her experiences with Georgia State University. She’s considering doing a week of events about international travel, culture and language to reach out to students across campus and encourage them to study internationally.
Even with her heart set on travel, Abdolwahb always knew she wanted to go to Georgia State University. “My uncle and aunt graduated from here. I’m a city girl, so this is where I’m supposed to be,” she said, “and I made sure to involve myself in everything I could get involved with on campus.” Abdolwahb has made GSU her home and become a part of campus in a multitude of ways.
She’s a 1913 ambassador, a student assistant in the advisement center, and a part of Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity. She’s also worked as a resident assistant in university housing where she led a global living floor with students from all around the world making up her community. She learned a lot about different cultures and spent time helping all her residents understand one another.
With a graduation date of May 2017, Abdolwahb is already looking to the future. Networking opportunities through Robinson, and her mentor, make her confident she’ll find the perfect job opportunity once she graduates. She plans to complete the 30 under 30 challenge, visiting 30 countries before she turns 30. So far she’s reached eight, but her trip to Hong Kong puts her one step closer to a truly global future.