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Student Wins Gilman Scholarship to Study Abroad


JONESBORO – Kandria Driskill of Sheridan, a senior Honors student at Arkansas State University, has been selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study or intern abroad during the 2017-18 academic year.

Driskill, who has three majors — biological sciences with environmental emphasis, chemistry and environmental science — has been awarded funding to study in the Bilateral Exchange program at North-West University in the Republic of South Africa during the 2018 spring semester. She also has two minors in marine science and mathematics.

"Being selected to receive the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is an honor, and I am immensely grateful to the scholarship selection committee as well as all of my professors and advisers at Arkansas State University,” Driskill stated. “This scholarship is providing the means for me to be the first Arkansas State University student to participate in the Bilateral Exchange at North-West University in South Africa, and this study program is allowing me to not only complete my simultaneous bachelor's degrees from A-State, but also take classes that will benefit me in my continuing education and future career goal of marine research.

“Thank you to all of those who help make this program and this scholarship possible. I could never have hoped to accomplish so much in my undergraduate career without the aid of good advisers, great professors and wonderful scholarship donors."

The South Africa study abroad initiative in environmental biology is spearheaded by Dr. Tom Risch, chair, Department of Biological Sciences and professor of animal ecology, and Dr. Paul Sikkel, associate professor of aquatic biology.

“I am so proud that Kandria has been awarded the Gilman Scholarship,” said Jennifer Salo, coordinator of competitive fellowships and scholarships. “Her determination and work ethic during her time at A-State have really paid off and have made possible this great culminating experience abroad her senior year. We encourage our students to dream big, and Kandria exemplifies what’s possible with the opportunities offered at A-State.”

With an active presence on the A-State campus and in the local community, Driskill is a member of the Honors College, president of the Marine Biology Club, and an officer for both the local chapter of the American Chemical Society and the A-State Kayak and Canoe Club.

While at A-State, she has participated in a chemistry research experiences for undergraduates (REU) program at the University of Memphis, worked in the aquatic diversity lab of Dr. Brook Fluker, assistant professor of aquatic ecology, and conducted research in Puerto Rico with Sikkel. After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s and doctoral degree in bioengineering with an emphasis on marine systems. Her career goal is to become a university professor and conduct research to preserve and restore coral reef ecosystems.

Driskill is one of nearly 1,000 American undergraduate students from 386 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected for the scholarship that is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education (IIE). Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs with additional funding available for the study of a critical language overseas. 

A-State student Julian Jackson of Monticello was the recipient of a Gilman Scholarship and spent the fall 2017 semester studying at the Graz University of Technology in Austria. In November 2016, Hannah Massey of Walnut Ridge, then a junior electrical engineering major, was selected as a Gilman Scholarship recipient to study at Ulster University in Northern Ireland, and Raj N. Patel of Bryant was a Gilman scholar in May 2016 who studied at Saitama University in Japan.

The late Congressman Gilman, for whom the scholarship is named, served in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee. When honored with the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2002, he commented, “Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but adds an enriching social and cultural experience. 

“It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

Kandria Driskill
Kandria Driskill