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By Michele Tallarita ’12

Three Lafayette students are recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which will help fund their study-abroad experiences this spring.  Joel Vargas ’14 (Bronx, N.Y.) will travel to the Czech Republic, Nam Nguyen ’14 (Washington, D.C.) to China, and Edwin Liriano ’14 (Bronx, N.Y.) to Spain.

Sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, the highly competitive Gilman Scholarship encourages students to choose non-traditional destinations, especially those outside Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.  It also aims to support students who have been traditionally under-represented in study abroad, such as students of the sciences, with diverse ethnic backgrounds, or with high financial need.  Such international study is intended to better prepare students to assume professional roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.

Vargas, a double major in film & media studies and engineering studies, will spend the semester in Prague, where he will study at the Film and Television School of the Academy of Performing Arts.  His semester-long filmmaking workshop will focus on the art of cinematography and directing, and he will complete several short films and a pilot for a TV show.  He also hopes to secure a summer internship with a film production company abroad.

“My goals for the future are to continue to pursue filmmaking and hopefully become a successful cinematographer and film director,” he says.  “However, my ultimate goal is to become a conscientious filmmaker who will create beautiful works that will make audiences think about the world around them.”

On campus, Vargas is the co-organizer of Lafayette Association of Film Students.  He’s screened his own productions at the Lafayette Student Film Festival, collaborated with professors on film projects, and served as editor of a film that debuted at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in New York City.

Nguyen, a double major in history and international affairs, will go to Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan province in southwest China.  Home to 25 out of 55 of China’s officially recognized minority groups, Yunnan is an ideal place for Nguyen’s area of study, which is multiculturalism, migration, and indigenous peoples in China.  His program will require him to learn Mandarin Chinese.

In preparation, Nguyen took a Chinese language course and several courses examining China’s economy at Lafayette, where he is member of Asian Cultural Association and Kaleidoscope.

“I would like to become multicultural competent, become fluent in Chinese, and work in China after graduating,” he says.

Liriano, a double major in international affairs and international economics & commerce, will head to Alicante, Spain, where he will continue his pursuit of these disciplines through a program with the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies.  He will spend the first month taking Spanish language and culture courses, and then spend the rest of the semester taking courses in business Spanish, marketing variables, and economic internalization.  He will also participate in a business internship.

Liriano describes this experience as “exactly what I was looking for. I think this will help me develop a better international perspective of the business world. It will also enhance my Spanish by allowing me to practice in a professional setting.”

After graduation, he hopes to work for a global company that deals with emerging markets in Spanish-speaking countries.  His activities at Lafayette point to his global outlook:  He is treasurer for Engineers Without Borders and a participant in Lafayette Initiative for Malagasy Education. All three students are members of Lafayette’s Posse Scholarship program.

See a list of recent Lafayette recipients of national and international scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and post-graduate study

For information on applying for scholarships and fellowships, contact Julia A. Goldberg, associate dean of the College, (610) 330-5521.

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