Roanoke senior awarded Gilman scholarship for travel to the Netherlands

Ebony Spriggs, of Wilmington, Delaware, is Roanoke's first Gilman Scholar.

Ebony Spriggs, of Wilmington, Delaware, is Roanoke's first Gilman Scholar.

Roanoke College senior Ebony Spriggs is the first Roanoke College student to receive a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship. Spriggs, who is a psychology major from Wilmington, Delaware, was one of 1,200 undergraduate students across the nation awarded the Gilman Scholarship, which supports study in a foreign country for students who might otherwise miss out on the opportunity to go abroad due to financial restrictions.

"After looking at the requirements I thought this program would be a good fit for me," said Spriggs, a psychology major and sociology minor, who plans to study in the Netherlands.

To apply, students must present a proposal for a project that they plan to extend from their experience abroad into their community when they return home. The purpose of this project, called the Follow-on Service Project, is to promote international education either at the student's home institution or in their home community.  Spriggs aims to do both.

She described her project as an attempt to connect local Boy Scout troops from Salem to troops at her host university in Leiden, the Netherlands.

"My plan is to use Skype to connect the two troops so that each [troop] has a chance to talk with boys of their own age but who are from a different culture," Spriggs said recently.  "My hope is that by having the two groups talk with each other, it will inspire them to one day go abroad themselves."

Though the scholarship is usually awarded to students traveling outside of Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, Spriggs will be one of nine recipients heading to the Netherlands. She was drawn to the Netherlands in part by its culture of tolerance, which embraces people of diverse religious, ethnic and racial identities while maintaining a strong sense of Dutch heritage and culture. She plans to take sociology classes at Leiden University from September until January.

For Spriggs, the small town of Leiden is just what she's looking for; she says it will "let [her] more easily immerse herself in the culture."

Spriggs, one of only two Gilman recipients from Delaware, is a member of Psi Chi, a national psychology honor society, Roanoke's Honors Program and Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity on campus. She also was a Maroon Corps leader during orientation in the fall of 2011.

Gilman is a competitive national scholarship with only about 30 percent of the applications for Gilman Scholarships being funded over the past decade.

Released: June 15, 2012
Contact Name: Public Relations
Contact Phone: (540) 375-2282
Contact Email: gereaux@roanoke.edu