Hi there! I’m Zena Jeffers and I received the Gilman in 2016 while studying political science and international management at the illustrious NC A&T State University. My country of choice was a small island called Cyprus where I met with Fulbright scholars, the U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, and made an impact through volunteerism. In 2018, I studied in Germany where I gained more experience networking in diverse settings.
My first time boarding a flight was when I headed to Cyprus for my first study abroad experience. Looking back I can’t even believe the amount of fear that surrounded my experience and the way I took on each one without second guessing it. No one in my immediate family had ever boarded a flight let alone flew 5,000 miles to live in an unknown country knowing absolutely no one. So when I landed in Cyprus it was my mission to take in as much as possible, with open arms; this was the best decision I’ve made in my young adult life. Approaching my abroad experience with the goal to positively open and accept a new life bled into other aspects of my life and ultimately led to me learning two new languages, starting a business, and meeting some of my closest friends. When we embrace the aspects of our lives that are unfamiliar to us, we are able to experience life fully and fearlessly. I did not expect many of the trials and tribulations that I had to endure while abroad. Minor inconveniences such as language barriers or getting lost in a new city may have sent me spiraling if my mindset had not been prepared to embrace the unexpected abroad, and everyday following. I encourage anyone seeking growth, to embrace the unexpected in all aspects of life.