In the Spotlight
Quest to See the World
International Scholarship Brings UT Tyler Student's Dream to Reality
March 7, 2017
By Emily Battle
All her life, Jeranda Dennis has heard about the travels of others in her family. Her mother and grandmother have traveled extensively across the US, and her father has journeyed overseas to Japan and the Middle East.
Their experiences made her want to venture out and see the world, too. "I guess it's in my blood,'' said The University of Texas at Tyler senior.
Her opportunity has arrived.
Dennis received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship from The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to study abroad. This month, she heads to Japan – her destination of choice – to attend Kwansei Gakuin University in Nishinomiya for the spring semester, held from March to July.
She will take courses in Japanese language, society and culture at one of the leading private universities in Japan, and reside in an all-female dormitory near campus. The study abroad opportunity is offered through the University Studies Abroad Consortium, an organization that partners with The University of Texas at Tyler Office of International Programs (OIP).
In the past, the English major has only read about Asian culture. This spring, she'll experience it firsthand, spending a semester at Kwansei Gakuin University in Nishinomiya, Japan.
"I've always been interested in Asian culture and I've read a lot about it,'' said Dennis, an English major with a minor in international studies.
"Their disciplines, their manners and, of course, their language is very different than ours. Their youth culture is very interesting, too – their lifestyles, their fashions. I'm looking forward to being there and experiencing it.''
Pursuing Her Goals
After graduating from The University of Texas at Tyler next December, Dennis plans to apply to teach English in Yachiyo City, Japan, through the Tyler Sister Cities program. Ultimately, she hopes to have a career involving international travel.
As a step toward those goals, she began exploring study abroad opportunities through the Office of International Programs soon after transferring to the university from junior college.
"I really didn't know much about international scholarships until I started visiting the Office of International Programs. They have been very helpful,'' she said of the OIP staff. "They've helped me get my passport, assisted me in figuring out scholarships and helped with applications. I've spent a lot of time over there.''
Dennis applied for the Gilman International Scholarship in November and was notified of her acceptance just a few weeks later, in early December. "I was at the library typing a paper when I checked my email and saw, 'Congratulations on winning your scholarship,' '' she recalled, adding that she could barely contain her excitement. "I had to run out of the library and call my mom.''
Persistence Pays Off
Dr. Teresa Kennedy, assistant vice president for international programs, commended Dennis for her diligence in pursuing her goal.
"Jeranda has been very committed to her goal of studying in Japan, and she did a great job planning ahead to apply for scholarships, requesting a lot of feedback and going through multiple revisions of her scholarship application essays. Her hard work has clearly paid off, and we are very proud of her,'' said Kennedy, who leads OIP activities.
As part of a community service component to the Gilman Scholarship, Dennis plans to become a study abroad ambassador to The University of Texas at Tyler students when she returns from Japan, "so we are excited to work with her in that capacity,'' Kennedy said. "We are confident that she'll be quite effective at inspiring other students to study abroad, because of her passion and her belief in international education as a tool to bridge the gaps between cultures."
A native Texan, Dennis said she's looking forward to venturing beyond her familiar surroundings to experience other places and cultures. And she hopes to inspire others to do the same – just as her family inspired her.
Did You Know?
- Study opportunities for periods of one month, a semester or an entire year are offered in 26 different countries through the Office of International Program's partnership with the University Studies Abroad Consortium.
- The University of Texas at Tyler students can apply for International Education Fee and Dorothy Bradley Brown scholarships to study abroad. The OIP also assists students who wish to apply for the Gilman or other national and international scholarships.
- The OIP facilitates semester and yearlong student exchanges with the University of Hertfordshire near London, and short-term faculty/staff-led international trips throughout the year.
- To learn more about international travel opportunities, visit www.uttyler.edu/oip/study-abroad.