Headed to St. Petersburg: Student receives Gilman International Scholarship

Having received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, Sarah Mindek, a psychology major, will board a plane headed to Russia on June 18 for a five-week study abroad experience in St. Petersburg.

While abroad, Mindek said she hopes to hone her Russian skills.

“I’m pretty excited…I’ve always wanted to travel,” Mindek said. “Having two semesters of [Russian], I felt like at least I sort of knew what was going on. That’s why I chose St. Petersburg because I’m hoping to get better at speaking and reading Russian.”

While over 3,000 students applied for the Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship, only 1,100 received the $2,500 award. Annette El-Hayek, assistant director

for YSU Study Abroad and Exchange Programs, commented on the scholarship’s esteem.

“It is very prestigious and highly selective. When we get our students going there, it is quite an honor,” El-Hayek said. “I think it is a wonderful opportunity because [Mindek] is learning Russian, and this will take her Russian to a whole new dimension and will enable her to experience living in another culture.”

To be eligible for the Gilman Scholarship, students must qualify for Pell Grants and write a statement of purpose, explaining in a short essay why they want to study abroad.

During her time in St. Petersburg, Mindek will take the following classes: Intermediate Russian, Contemporary Life in Russia, Russian Art, and a sociology class.  But, Mindek said she does not expect to spend all of her time in the classroom.

“I’m thinking there will be a decent amount of free time for us to get what living in Russia is like, not just being stuck in the classroom,” Mindek said. “The life outside of the classroom is going to complement what I’m learning, so I’m excited about the Russian class and the adventures.”

El-Hayek encouraged all students to consider spending a semester abroad, claiming that the experience prepares students for life after graduation.

“In this day in age, to compete for jobs you need to have an added edge. This will make you part of a small elite, not only nationwide but worldwide. Students who have done this are much more capable of thinking outside of the box and making choices in careers down the road that will lead them to better positions,” she said.

Studying abroad does not only benefit students, though; El-Hayek said it also benefits the university.

“[YSU] gets a more well-rounded, more mature, more capable-of-taking-on-the-world student,” El-Hayek said. “It makes YSU look good because when that student does well, it reflects on the institution that gave them that chance.”