May 11, 2016 // posted by Sherrie Voss Matthews
Meet David Lawrence.
He’s a U.S. Army Reservist with future plans to the U.S. State Department after graduate school.
Lawrence, a College of Liberal and Fine Arts political science major and future UTSA Graduate School student, has traveled the world while a member of the U.S. Army. He discovered an appreciation for languages and cultures while stationed abroad.
In South Korea, Lawrence became fluent in Korean. Now he hopes to add Russian to his list of language skills.
“I was in Ukraine over break,” he said. “It was a fascinating place. When I was a kid, the Ukraine and Russia were places you couldn’t go. Now they are open, and Eastern Europe is becoming a fastest-growing sector of the economy.”
This summer, he will immerse himself in Russian language and culture as he studies with CIEE Abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. He’ll live with a host family, and study Russian through an intensive course at St. Petersburg State University. A $4,500 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship will help make his experience possible.
He has taken several Russian classes at UTSA, but he knows from his experience in Korea that the best way to achieve fluency is to live where the language is spoken.
“I just want to see everything,” he added. “I’m learning Russian in Texas, but I know it helps to have a chance to use it every day. When I learned Korean, I spoke it every day, and I’m looking forward to doing the same thing in Russia.”
Lawrence will take the Russian language courses in grammar, phonetics, and conversation, and two elective courses taught strictly in Russian at the campus, which was founded in 1764.
Lawrence is one of approximately 800 American undergraduate students from more than 300 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 to study or intern abroad during the spring 2016 academic term.
“The Gilman will help me pay for more than half of the cost,” Lawrence explained. He also received a UTSA International Education Fund award. Both scholarships make his immersive experience possible.
Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs. Students receiving a Federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions who will be studying abroad or participating in a career-oriented international internship for academic credit are eligible to apply.
“David Lawrence is an example of how important it is for students to immerse themselves in another culture,” said Dr. René Zenteno, Vice Provost for International Initiatives. “By pursuing an opportunity to study in an immersive program within Russia, Lawrence will dramatically improve his fluency. We encourage all UTSA students to pursue education abroad programs that complement their academic plans and help them achieve their educational goals.”
Lawrence credits the UTSA political science faculty -- Mr. Henry Esparza, Dr. Ritu Mathur, Dr. Matthias Hofferberth and Mr. Brent Floyd – for teaching him “not what to think but how to think.”
“UTSA opened many doors of opportunity that would have remained closed. The opportunity to attend graduate school at UTSA is a great opportunity and so is the opportunity to study abroad, which is something I intend on doing again once I am attending graduate school,” said Lawrence. “Attending UTSA has been a life changing experience and I am forever grateful to my instructors' time and effort as well as the other students around me because we all learn from each other, too.”
The Gilman Scholarship Program is open to U.S. citizen undergraduate students who are receiving federal Pell grants and are planning to study abroad.
Students interested in applying for the Gilman Scholarship Program should visit iie.org/gilman and discuss possibilities with the staff in Education Abroad Services, MB 1.204.