Northern Michigan University students Jessica Cross of Oxford, Mich., and Nancy Kenok of Homewood, Ill., received Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships for study-abroad programs this semester. Cross will study in Ankara, Turkey, from early February to mid-June. She said her program will include a course load similar to what she would have taken on the NMU campus, with the addition of Turkish language courses. Her group will also make excursions to multiple locations in the country—ranging from a traditional village to Istanbul—and participate in cultural activities such as ballet performances and museum tours. Volunteer opportunities are also likely. The sophomore electronic imaging major said she became interested in Turkey last summer when she met peers from there while working at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio. “Our friendships led me into a slight infatuation with the country,” said Cross. “I figured if Turkey was home to those absolutely wonderful people, then it had to be a relatively awesome place. I’m going to have the chance to learn about and understand a whole new lifestyle, which will help me better understand our culture as well. I know this trip is going to help me with my future in more ways than I can imagine. Hopefully it will open up career opportunities and provide me the inspiration and perspective I need to make my work really stand out.” Kenok was scheduled to leave Jan. 17 for a Spanish language and cultural immersion program at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico. She will return in early June. The junior said the program aligns well with her academic major in international studies and minor Latin American studies. She plans to attend either graduate school or law school after graduating from NMU. “I’m confident this program will help me achieve my career goal of working in an international field that benefits people,” Kenok said. “Because of my minor, I wanted to study in a Latin American country and Guanajuato is a colonial city that looks absolutely beautiful. It’s also a United Nations heritage site. I’m obsessed with the United Nations and I’m vice president of the Model UN Club at Northern. I also found it appealing that the program I’m going through—International Studies Abroad—is really organized.” Kenok said she has taken eight years of Spanish. She and other international students will take language courses at the intermediate or advanced levels and a grammar and conversation class. They will also have the option of taking up to three more classes in the areas of history, literature and US-Mexico relations. Cross and Kenok were among 600 students nationwide who received a Gilman Scholarship for the spring 2009 semester. Their awards ranged from $4,500 to $5,000.