Beyond the positive impacts on their professional life, most Gilman Scholars (89%) indicated that they have a more successful personal life because of their experience studying abroad. Gilman Scholars returned to the United States with improved skills, increased independence and self-awareness, heightened global competencies, and clear visions of their identity and aspirations. The professional and personal growth of being a Gilman Scholar transmitted beyond the program duration, and for many, the Gilman experience was the turning point that triggered transformations in their lives for years to come.
Jessica’s time in Namibia elevated her original advocacy of studying abroad from a perceived Gilman Scholar responsibility into a lifelong passion. She began promoting her Gilman experience and presenting her Gilman project to other students after her return home, and this led to her leadership role on school-related trips to Namibia, Qatar, and Uganda in 2019, as well as a COVID-transformed virtual study abroad trip to Africa for U.S. students in 2020.
Her 2016 Namibia trip also contributed to increased self-confidence and a global competency that allowed her to work independently in 2019/20 in Uganda, where she photographed for a local non-governmental organization, collected her master’s thesis data, and eventually obtained a Field of Hope Fellowship.
Inspired by her Gilman experience, Jessica shifted her career pursuit to international development over the years, and she is now the program coordinator for the Borlaug Institute’s International Agricultural Education Fellowship Program. She will spend 2021/22 in Ghana with nine future fellows in a manager capacity.