Shawnna Mullenax is fascinated by Latin American politics, so much so that she is going to get first-hand experience in the region.

WVU's Gilman Scholars:
2009 - Joseph Bailey
2009 - Katasha Leggett
2010 - Justin Moore
2010 - Faith Pirlo
2010 - Shawnna Mullenax

Mullenax is the fifth West Virginia University student to be awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The scholarship program offers awards for undergraduate study abroad to students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-or four-year college or university.

“Shawnna will be a wonderful ambassador for WVU as she embarks on her study abroad experience as a Gilman Scholar,” said Lisa DeFrank-Cole, director of the WVU ASPIRE program. “She is bright, articulate and friendly and we are proud to call her a Mountaineer.”

She will use the $4,500 award to study in Bolivia during the spring 2011 semester.

“I decided if I was going to be seriously studying the politics of Latin America, it would be good to go to the place where things are happening,” Mullenax said. “I think the politics of Latin America will be really important to the future of political science.”

With a minor in Spanish, Mullenax also hopes the trip will help her to further develop her language skills.

While she is abroad, she will take classes on political science, the history of Latin America and Spanish.

She will also spend 12 hours a week working with children as part of a service project. The trip is being organized by Amizade, a global service-learning organization.

“I am really excited,” she said. “I feel like this program is the perfect fit.”

When she returns to Morgantown, the Gilman Scholarship also requires that Mullenax complete a service project in the community. She plans to work with WVU’s Student Support Services and Davis and Elkins College’s Upward Bound program.

Approximately 8,800 students across the United States have used the Gilman Scholarship to study in 116 countries. The program encourages students to choose non-traditional study abroad destinations, especially those outside of Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is funded through the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000 and is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

For more information on the Gilman Scholarship program, visit .



CONTACT: Lisa DeFrank-Cole, ASPIRE

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