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Seminole State student receives prestigious Gilman Scholarship to study in Russia

Carolina Amesty is Seminole State College's first recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

A Seminole State College of Florida student has received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad this summer.

Sophomore Carolina Amesty, a 19-year-old graduate of West Oaks Academy in Orlando, received the $3,000 award and will study in a one-month program at Moscow State University in Russia. Amesty is the first Seminole State student to receive a Gilman Scholarship.

The Gilman Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE), allows applicants to select the country they prefer to study and immerses award winners in the culture and language of their chosen location.

“The most exciting part of my trip to Moscow will be learning about the Russian culture,” Amesty says. “America needs students who are interested in learning about other cultures, and the Gilman Scholarship gives students that opportunity.”

While at Moscow State University, she will take classes taught through Bryn Mawr College, and she will undergo several hours of Russian language tutoring each day. Amesty, whose parents are from Venezuela, speaks English and Spanish, and she says she expects to have at least a functional understanding of the Russian language by program’s conclusion.

Amesty says she had an advantage in the Gilman Scholarship’s selection process, because community college students are underrepresented. She chose Russia as her destination after reading extensively about their recent political and economic endeavors.

“In January, I was reading some articles about Russia, and about the United States’ interests in Russia,” she says. “I read about how their economy is getting better even while political tensions were rising with its bordering countries. And then in March, just a few months later, we saw some results of this tension when [Russian president Vladimir] Putin invaded Crimea, Ukraine.”

Amesty, who is studying political science, says this trip will be important to her academic and personal development as she works toward a career in international law. She says knowledge of the Russian language and culture will become increasingly important in law and international politics as the complicated relationship between the United States and Russia develops in the coming years.

Amesty learned about the scholarship while researching ways to fund international study in political science, and she was able to utilize Seminole State’s Center for Global Engagement, which promotes cross-cultural learning and activity, for assistance throughout the application process.

“Carolina is a bright and energetic student, and it was a pleasure to get to know her over the past six months advising her during the application process,” says Kevin Konecny, director of the Center for Global Engagement. “She is one of our pioneers in studying abroad, and we hope she’ll be among a growing list of Seminole State students who earn this and similar prestigious awards for travel.”

After graduating next fall or spring, she hopes to transfer to Georgetown University to finish her bachelor’s degree before pursuing a graduate degree in law.

“The Gilman award is a dream come true for me,” Amesty says. “I love political science and hope one day to use all the knowledge obtained throughout my education to serve our nation.”

The Gilman Scholarship is named after a retired congressman who chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee. 

Seminole State College supports students who hope to gain an international perspective during their academic studies through the Center for Global Engagement, which was founded in 2013. To learn more about international study, or to learn how to contribute to international programs, contact Kevin Konecny, director of the Center for Global Engagement, at 407.708.2907.

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