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Two from SU Receive Gilman International Scholarship Awards

Neila Henrice
Neila Henrice

By SU Public Relations

SALISBURY, MD---As a child, Salisbury University junior Neila Henrice dreamed of becoming a heart surgeon and forming a non-profit to provide medical support in developing nations to those who otherwise could not afford it.

She realized early on that, to do that, she would need to develop an understanding of cultures beyond her native Haiti and the U.S., where she moved at age 12.

This summer, the nursing major took her next step toward that goal. Thanks to the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, the Salisbury resident recently attended a two-week study abroad program in Italy, led by Dr. Andrew Martino, dean of SU’s Glenda Chatham and Robert G. Clarke Honors College.

The Gilman program provides students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, providing them with skills the Department of State deems critical to national security and economic prosperity. Henrice was one of nearly 3,000 students selected to participate in the competitive program this year.

“I have not had the chance to leave the country since I first moved to the U.S., but as a future doctor, I need to increase my cultural competency and understanding of different peoples,” she said, adding that the diverse makeup of Salisbury’s community also has played an integral role in that education.

“Immersing myself in Sicily not only has enhanced my cultural competency, but also provided me with firsthand exposure to the unique challenges and resilience of the region. For instance, contrasting the approach in Sicily with that of the United States toward migrants can shed light on varying cultural, legal and socioeconomic factors that shape health care delivery and support systems.”

During her experience in Italy, Henrice met a variety of people, including scientists at Mt. Etna, experts who lectured about migrants arriving from places including North Africa, agricultural workers, and an expert who discussed the Mafia.

She hopes others at SU will follow in her footsteps and take advantage of study abroad offerings, as well.

“I plan to share my experience with all of the students I reach on campus, from my role as an orientation leader, to my position as an ambassador for the TRIO Student Support Services program, through which I connect with students from so many backgrounds,” she said. “I love sharing opportunities I know will help students like me be successful.”

Henrice was not SU’s only Gilman success story this year. Sophomore computer science major Daniel Lugasi of Berlin, MD, will spend the 2024-25 academic year studying at Aoyama Gakuin University in Japan as a recipient of the Gilman Scholarship.

He hopes the experience will provide insights into the use of technology and computer science in Japanese culture, as well as fulfill requirements for his East Asian studies minor at SU.

“Japan is a very technologically advanced nation, as evidenced by its culture of extreme efficiency,” he said. “In Japan, there is a culture of convenience, and they use software and robotics to maximize this convenience. Daily processes are simplified using applications, and food is served with robotics. I am looking forward to this opportunity to integrate a global perspective into my studies.”

Like Henrice, Lugasi is a first-generation American. He said he is excited for the opportunity to expand his cultural horizons while completing an education experience he hopes will be beneficial in his planned career in software engineering.

“The opportunity to study abroad in a country as unique and diverse as Japan will give me a chance to grow and develop as a person, will provide me a global education experience that will shape my perspective when I return to the United States, and will help me to gain valuable knowledge on the intersection of Japanese culture and computer science,” he said.

“This international background will allow me to grow academically, personally and professionally. … As a college student, now is the time for me to leave my comfort zone and experience what a culture very different from the ones I know has to offer.”

SU students or alumni interested in applying for the Gilman or other national fellowships should complete an online interest form or contact Dr. Kristen Walton, director of the SU Nationally Competitive Fellowships Office (NCFO), for assistance. For more information, visit the NCFO webpage.

Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.