Claflin News

Four Claflin University Students Selected for Gilman Scholarships to Study Abroad

Jun 12, 2012

A quartet of Claflin University students will literally be going places this summer because they were selected as Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship recipients. 

Krystal Bowser, Audriana Whiteside, Elisha Owens and Dania Childress all received Gilman Scholarships ranging from $3,500 to $4,500 to study abroad this year.

The scholarship was established in 2000 to offer awards for undergraduates receiving federal Pell Grants who desire to study abroad.

Dr. Donald Pace, director of international studies, noted this was the second straight year Claflin students were awarded with the Gilman Scholarship.  Last year, Brittany Benjamin and Jolena Branch, who studied in China and Turkey, respectively, were Claflin’s first Gilman recipients.

Pace had previously participated on the selection panel for the Gilman Scholarship and discovered African-Americans, particularly males, and science majors were seriously underrepresented as Gilman scholars.  After learning this unfortunate statistic, Pace made it his mission to have Claflin students represented.  Now, the effort has proved successful.

“The four Gilman Scholars collectively symbolize the trajectory of excellence along which Claflin students – and the institution itself – are traveling,” Pace said.  “These students are not only Claflin’s ambassadors to Costa Rica, Japan and India but ambassadors on campus who will inspire their peers to dream of an education that extends far beyond the University’s walls in Orangeburg.”

Aspiring pediatrician Krystal Bowser is heading to Osaka, Japan.  She’s said the scholarship will help out tremendously.  She credited Pace for assisting through ever step toward becoming a Gilman Scholar.

Bowser was intriguing by studying in Japan many of her friends back home in Los Angeles grew up there. 

“I want to experience the culture by eating all the foods and even singing some karaoke,” the Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College student said.  “I’ve always wanted to travel the world.”

Elisha Owens, a sociology major, will be a long way from her native Spartanburg in the costal paradise of Costa Rica soon thanks to the scholarship.

Her $4,500 award will allow her to attend Veritas University in the Latin America nation.  At Claflin, she developed a love for learning the Spanish language.  Pace encouraged Owens to study abroad and now the rest is history.

“I really hope to improve my Spanish speaking ability to become bilingual,” Owens said.  “During my time in Costa Rica, I want to volunteer in the community and learn the culture.”

Ultimately, Owens wants to use this experience as a springboard for establishing free medical clinics in underdeveloped countries.

Meanwhile, senior Audriana Whiteside will study at Amity University in India.  This will be her first time overseas. 

“My goal is to possess a broader view of different cultures and also compare how their education system differs from ours,” said Whiteside, an elementary education student.  “I hope to gain something to bring back to Claflin University.”

The Spartanburg native plans to attend graduate school in the near future in hopes of one day owning and operating a day care business.

For more information on Claflin’s International Studies Program, please contact Pace by phone at (803) 535- 5679 or by e-mail at


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