Two Roanoke students awarded Gilman Scholarships to study abroad

Alexis Rixner '16 (left) and Mathilda Nassar '15

Alexis Rixner '16 (left) and Mathilda Nassar '15

Mathilda Nassar '15 and Alexis Rixner '16 are two of over 700 American undergraduate students from 341 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Nassar is an international relations major with a concentration in peace and justice studies who originally came from Bethlehem, Palestine and her family now lives in Richmond. Nassar will study abroad in the Czech Republic during the Spring 2014 academic term. She was recently recognized with the Christopher C. Joyner Memorial Award from the Lutheran College Washington Semester program for her hard work and success at her internship. She is currently completing an internship with the General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the U.S.

"I am honored to win this award. Studying international relations in another country will give me a different perspective that I would not necessarily get in the classroom," Nassar said. "However, I couldn't have gotten this award without the help and guidance of my mentors at Roanoke." 

Rixner is a biology major from King George, Va. who will be studying marine biology in Fiji in spring 2014 term.

"I am very grateful for winning this scholarship," Rixner said. "I hope to gain a new perspective on life through my involvement in their culture and academics. Studying at the University will help me develop a global perspective on current world problems as well as a great insight on marine biology field."

"Fewer than one in four applicants earn a nationally prestigious Gilman award," Jenny Rosti, director of major scholarships and fellowships, said. "Five Roanoke College students, from diverse majors, have received this honor in the past three years. This is a testament to the quality of our students and the strengths of the College's programs."  Four of the College's Gilman scholars are currently enrolled students.

Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward the cost of their study abroad program.  The program aims to diversify the students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages, and economies -- making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector. 

Congressman Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee, commented, "Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community."

The program is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE). 

Roanoke College, a classic liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a beautiful, undergraduate setting. Roanoke is one of just seven percent of colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review lists Roanoke as the 18th most beautiful campus in its "Best 376 Colleges" 2012 guidebook.

Released: December 13, 2013
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