MARQUETTE, Mich.—Four NMU students have received Gilman International Scholarships to participate in study-abroad programs for the upcoming academic year.

Crystal Falvo, a senior art history major from Gaylord, was awarded $3,000 to spend the fall semester in Chengdu, China, Sichuan Province. Valarie Harger, a senior psychology major from Grand Rapids, received $5,000 for a full academic year in Costa Rica. Irma Rosas, a junior art and design/international studies major from Beaver Dam, Wis., was awarded $5,000 to spend the academic year in Oldenburg, Germany. And Jaclyn VanBuren, a senior hospitality major from Ishpeming, received $2,500 for the fall semester in Florence, Italy.  

Falvo will take courses in Chinese language, art, calligraphy, culture and  religion in society at Sichuan University. She also hopes to volunteer at the Sichuan Art Museum. Falvo will participate in weekend excursions provided by AsiaLearn and have the opportunity to stay with a host family during the holidays. She is the daughter of Sheila Markle of Frederic and Charles Falvo of Petoskey.

“I have been curious about China since my preteen years,” Falvo said.  “It fits in well with my academic major and my minor in art and design. To me, the Chinese language is an art. The spoken tones sound like music and the characters are so much fun to draw. I am thankful and excited that I will be able to study in China this fall.”

Harger will take several intensive Spanish courses during her academic year in San José, Costa Rica. She said speaking the language will be invaluable to her career goal of working with at-risk youth. She is the daughter of Deborah Kintigh and the late David Kintigh of Grand Rapids.

“I feel honored and grateful to be receiving the Gilman scholarship; without it, I wouldn’t be able to go,” said Harger. “I'm very excited and kind of nervous about living in another country for six months. But I think that living abroad for any amount of time encourages a lot of introspection.  I'll be able to look at things I do in a whole new light. Self-awareness is a valuable asset.” 

Rosas said she hopes to become fluent in German while studying in Oldenburg, a northwestern city of about 160,000 near the North Sea.  She is the daughter of Hilario and Irma Rosas of Beaver Dam.    

 “I feel extremely lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to spend the academic year in Germany thanks to the Gilman scholarship,” she said. “International experiences make you get out of your comfort zone in a lot of different ways, from learning another language to encouraging acceptance of other cultures. It helps you become a better person.”

Van Buren will attend Florence University of the Arts and Apicius International School of Hospitality. Her class schedule includes Italian cuisine, nutrition and service management. She is the daughter of Stacy Van Buren of Ishpeming and Clay Van Buren.

“I am very excited about my opportunity to go to Italy; it’s a dream come true,” said Jaclyn. “International experience as a student is valuable because jobs are universally related and employers are looking for that more and more these days. It could be the leg up in the competition for a dream job. I hope to take home a lot more confidence than I will start out with. I hope it will be a very memorable experience that will compel me to open up a great deal more, acquire leadership skills and really start thinking outside the box.”

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program provides awards for U.S. undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue study-abroad opportunities worldwide. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and designed to “better prepare students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.”

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director