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Two Arts and Letters Students Receive Gilman Scholarship to Study Abroad

Author: Daniel Sehlhorst

Two students from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters—Bright Gyamfi and Ray’Von Jones—have been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad.

The Gilman Scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The nationally competitive award aims to diversify the kinds of students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go.

A Deeper Connection

Ray’Von Jones Ray’Von Jones

Jones, a junior majoring in sociology and Spanish, said the summer she spent in Toledo, Spain, was her first time abroad—and a pivotal component of her Notre Dame education.

“I always knew I wanted to study abroad,” said Jones, a South Bend native, who said that the experience would not have been possible without the Gilman award.

While in Spain, Jones enjoyed taking courses on Spanish art and literature and traveling throughout the country to explore various subcultures.

“One of my favorite parts was living with my host family because you develop a much deeper connection,” she said. “You really learn the language and gain an appreciation for the culture by being part of it for a while.”

The trip inspired Jones, who is also pursuing an Education, Schooling, and Society minor, to consider a research project on how unemployment affects motivation to pursue higher education in Spain. At approximately 25 percent, Spain’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the developed world.

A Changing Narrative

Bright Gyamfi Bright Gyamfi

Gyamfi, a junior studying history and political science, is spending the fall 2014 semester in London, thanks to the Gilman Award. In addition to his coursework, he is conducting independent research exploring the impact that Great Britain had on Ghanaian education after colonization of the territory.

The research, which will be part of his senior thesis, builds on work he did over the summer in Ghana—his native country. With support from the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Gyamfi examined the historical narrative of the Gold Coast—the British colony that became Ghana—and how it changed after its independence from the United Kingdom in 1957.

Gyamfi, a Sorin Scholar, encourages other students to pursue research opportunities abroad and said that he has appreciated working one-on-one with faculty members during the project.

“It all starts with student-faculty interaction. Seek a professor who will help you with your goals,” Gyamfi said.

A Notre Dame Edge

Both students credit Notre Dame’s Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement with helping them craft competitive applications for the Gilman Scholarship.

In addition to advising students during the national fellowships application process, CUSE promotes student research in various ways—from connecting students to faculty mentors and funding programs to supporting them as they conduct research, publish, or present their work.

“Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the opportunities that Notre Dame provides,” Gyamfi said.

The Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE) provides students across the university with opportunities for research, scholarship, and creative projects. For more information on fellowships, please visit