20 July 2023 HWS Students Celebrated as Gilman Scholars

With support from the Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, students studied in Costa Rica, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Indonesia and South Korea.

Six Hobart and William Smith students were awarded prestigious U.S. Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to support their study abroad experiences. The highly competitive national grant program provides up to $5,000 for students to study or intern abroad.

“I will forever be grateful for the Gilman program for giving me this opportunity because it has definitely changed my outlook on the people around the world.” Ahmed Wise ’24

This year’s recipients were Hrithik Biswas ’23 in Costa Rica, Roman Vargas Garcia ’24 in Germany, Lucas Johnson ’24 in Italy, Colt Lyndaker ’25 in New Zealand, Ahmed Wise ’24 in Indonesia and Karen Wu ’24 in South Korea.

“It is gratifying to see so many of our deserving students earn this recognition,” says HWS’ Center for Global Education Programs Operations Manager Amy Teel. Gilman funds make all the difference in providing access not only to study abroad but to enrichment opportunities once the students arrive in their chosen countries.”

Hrithik Biswas ’23 studies climate change in Costa Rica.

Through a study abroad experience in Costa Rica led by Associate Professor of Psychological Science Emily Fisher, Biswas learned about the effects that climate change is having on life in the country’s coastal areas. He says he learned how people who live in a vulnerable ecosystem are developing resiliency through conservation, sustainability and ecotourism. He presented his studies in Costa Rica during the Senior Symposium this spring. Graduating with an economics and anthropology-sociology double major, Biswas has been accepted to serve in the Peace Corps as a Community Development Associate in North Macedonia.

Roman Vargas Garcia '24 takes a photo at the Alte Pinakothek art museum in Germany. 

Garcia attended the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) program in Germany where he studied Berlin’s history, art history and urban environment. His program took a comparative “Metropolitan Studies” approach, examining German culture through the politics, history and visual culture of Berlin and comparing these to other cities in Germany and Central Europe. In addition to his formal studies with IES, Garcia served as an HWS Blocker Scholar. With funding provided by the Julius G. Blocker ’53 Endowed Fund, he created and maintained a blog examining Germany’s complex colonial legacy and national accountability as manifested in the Humboldt Forum.

Lucas Johnson '24 immerses himself in the skate culture of Rome, Italy while studying how it differs from other skate cultures globally.

Johnson participated in an architectural studies program led by Associate Professor Emeritus of Art and Architecture Stan Mathews in Rome, Italy. Johnson says he enrolled in the program with the ambition to learn as much as possible about the art and architectural heritage of the city. While abroad, Johnson completed a SIIF Grant project examining skate-boarding culture in Italy, enabling him to meet and compare notes with fellow skate enthusiasts across the country.  Additionally, Johnson took courses on food systems and sustainability through the GustolabInternational and the Borromini Institute, based in Rome.

Colt Lyndaker ’25 takes a quick photo while studying in Auckland, New Zealand.

In Auckland, New Zealand, Lyndaker worked as an environmental stewardship intern forEcoMatters Environment Trust, where he monitored water quality through testing, managed stream/waterways clean-up and maintenance, and collaborated with local and indigenous groups to protect waterways.

A chemistry major, Wu spent the spring semester at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. Wu has plans to go into cosmetic chemistry and chose South Korea to learn about the country’s skincare industry. Wu says she is grateful for the opportunity.

Karen Wu ’24 (center) cheers on Yonsei University at the annual Yon-Ko Cheering event during her semester in Seoul, South Korea.

“Being a Gilman scholar has allowed me to study abroad without worrying about my financial burden,” shares Wu. “But thanks to my financial aid package from HWS and being named a Gilman Scholar, I was able to experience studying abroad to the fullest.”

“Being a Gilman scholar has allowed me to study abroad without worrying about my financial burden.” Karen Wu ’24

An educational studies and dance and movement studies double major with a minor in Africana studies, Wise spent the 2023 J-term studying Balinese culture and various Balinese dances while living in the Indonesian providence for four weeks. Wise studied traditional instruments, masked performance, shadow puppetry and mask carving and performed at a fundraising concert in Annika Linden Center in Denpasar, Bali. He says he’s thankful for the scholarship.

“Without the Gilman program, I never would have had the opportunity to experience the complex cultural mixture in Bali, Indonesia,” says Wise. “I will forever be grateful for the Gilman program for giving me this opportunity because it has definitely changed my outlook on the people around the world.”

Ahmed Wise '24 (center) poses for a photo before a traditional Balinese performance in Bali, Indonesia.

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a highly competitive national grant program that provides funding for students to study or intern abroad. To be accepted into the program, students complete in a competitive application process, which involves multiple essays and a proposal for a project upon returning to the U.S.

During the past two decades, more than 50 HWS students have earned the Gilman Scholarship. On the occasion of the Gilman’s 20th anniversary, HWS was recognized as a Top Producing Institution for Gilman Scholars.

In the photo on top, Ahmed Wise ’24 visits an elephant sanctuary while studying in Bali, Indonesia.