A student assistant recently interviewed Vanessa Pearson ’21, a Gilman Scholarship recipient, on her plans for studying abroad this upcoming Spring semester and what the application process for the Gilman was like.
To start off, can you tell me a little about yourself?
I am a sophomore here at Roanoke. I am majoring in Psychology and Education with a concentration in Human Development. I am originally from Franklin County, VA, about forty minutes away from Salem. On campus, I am a part of Colleges Against Cancer and Habitat for Humanity. Off campus, I work a part time job as a waitress/cook/manager at a restaurant in my hometown. I also play rec volleyball in my free time.
Congratulations on receiving the Gilman Scholarship! Can you tell me a little about program, what the application process was like, and where you are going to be studying?
I am going through an international student exchange program to Australia. I will be studying at James Cook University in Queensland. The application process for James Cook University was surprisingly easy. I did not have to write any admission papers on anything like that. I think the hardest part about that application was trying to figure out what classes I wanted to take since they had to go on the application so that they could get approved.
The application for the Gilman Scholarship was a little more complex. There were a bunch of different parts to it. The biggest part of the Gilman was the essay section. You needed to have two essays explaining why you are a good candidate for it and what will you do to promote the Gilman and study abroad if you receive it.
What drew you to studying abroad in Australia?
I am not one hundred percent sure what drew me to studying in Australia. I was at a study abroad meeting and Dr. Boggs-Parker was going over all of the different places you could study [and] when she said Australia it clicked. [I felt like] that was it, that was where I needed to go.
Also, the warmer weather doesn’t hurt.
Another part of me going to Australia is that I want to work in the education system. I thought it would be really interesting to see how education works on a different side of the globe. I also needed to go somewhere that I would be able to understand what others are saying since I would not be studying a language while abroad.
What are you the most excited about in terms of studying abroad (both in general and specific to Australia)?
I am excited to experience something new. I am a commuter at Roanoke, so I [want] to [know] what it feels like to live on campus. I am also excited to travel around the world.
In terms of sightseeing, I really want to go to the Great Barrier Reef and also hike around several places. I am excited to make new friendships and I really want to pet a kangaroo and hold a koala bear.
What courses are you most interested in taking while there?
I am really excited about taking Modern Australian History. I think that it is cool that I will be learning about history through the eyes of a different country. I am also excited to take my education class because I want to see and learn from different education systems.
What advice would you have for those interested in applying to competitive scholarships/grants like Gilman?
I would say do not wait until the last minute. Start the application process as soon as possible; have someone read over your draft and, for lack of better words, tear it apart. I wrote four drafts before making small corrections to the final one. I would also go through the application and make sure you are not going to have any last-minute questions [to complete] before the deadline, that way you can ensure they are answered.
Is there anything else you would like add?
The only thing that I would add is that there is always hope for getting a scholarship you want. Write your application with purpose and meaning. Also, get Dr. Rosti to read over your application, that woman is a saint.
Thank you, Vanessa, for taking time to answer our questions! We know you will have a fantastic time studying abroad and hope you will share some of your favorite memories upon returning to campus next school year (including petting kangaroos and holding koalas)!
For those interested in learning more about the Gilman Scholarship, click on the logo below to go to their official website.