Meet Ryan Lee, Gilman Scholar Who Studied Abroad in South Korea

Wednesday, January 25th
Ryan Lee is a Computer Science major who plans to graduate from Rutgers in 2024. He was eager to study abroad in South Korea and applied for the prestigious Gilman Scholarship to help defray the costs. Established in 2001, the Gilman International Scholarship is congressionally funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and provides up to $5,000 to students of limited financial means (they must be receiving a Federal Pell Grant to be eligible) to intern or study abroad. Students can apply for a supplemental award of up to $3,000 if they study a critical need language deemed important to national security. The application process for the Gilman Scholarship is rigorous. Students must submit three essays that require a substantial amount of vulnerability and openness in order to share their story and why they believe going abroad would be fundamental to their journey. Ryan went through the process and was thrilled to receive the Gilman Scholarship. In the Spring of 2022, he realized his dream of studying abroad in South Korea at Yonsei University in Seoul. Here he shares about his experiences. Note: The application deadline for the Gilman Scholarship is March 9, 2023. Contact the Study Abroad office for guidance, and learn more here on the Gilman Scholarship website. Why did you want to study abroad in South Korea? I attended middle school in Korea until I was 16. When I came to the United States, it was sometimes hard for me and I realized that I wanted to see my old friends again. I found out about the existence of studying abroad in Korea through a flyer that came to my school email account, and I wanted to learn more. What advantages did you think you would gain through studying abroad? When I thought about studying abroad seriously, I realized it could have many advantages for me. I had always planned to return to Korea after graduation and work there, so I thought that studying abroad would give me the opportunity to interact with people with similar goals. In addition, I knew that schools in Korea have various courses in the computer science field, which is my field of study. When I looked into it and did the research, I decided to study abroad at Yonsei University in Seoul.  What were some obstacles to you studying abroad? The biggest obstacle to studying abroad for me was definitely the cost. I was able to get help through applying for various study abroad scholarships. Rutgers Global has many options for scholarship programs to help students study abroad and they encouraged me to apply for the Gilman scholarship. I was very lucky to receive a scholarship to cover my costs while studying abroad. For all students considering studying abroad, I highly recommend that you apply for scholarships! What was your study abroad experience like in South Korea? Unfortunately, the 2022 Spring semester was still a period impacted by Covid-19 but I was still very excited to attend university in Seoul. Most of the classes were held online, but I was able to go to class in-person twice a week. I met many new friends there; they were all professional and had a passion for what they were learning. I asked them a lot of questions about the job market in Korea, and I was able to get some great insider information. Another advantage was being able to take classes that were difficult to get into at Rutgers. Finally, the campus was beautiful, and I was able to see my old friends that I hadn't seen in a long time.  Tell us about your classes at Yonsei University. What courses did you take and what was the classroom experience like? Yonsei University offered a lot of classes in my major, computer science. First, I took a class about big data and image recognition. I have been interested in big data for a long time, so I was glad for the opportunity to take the course at Yonsei. Next, I was able to learn about macroeconomics and cognitive science, a topic of great interest to me. Overall, the classes I took at Yonsei University were well-organized, enjoyable, and valuable. What was your favorite place to visit in South Korea? Why? I like to drink tea, however in the U.S. my options were limited since I don't drive. I've always wanted a tea house within walking distance, but I didn’t have one in New Brunswick. In Seoul, there were many tea houses nearby and, with the good public transportation system, I could easily go to the other tea houses further away.  What advice would you give a fellow Rutgers student who wants to study abroad? The most important thing I would like to tell students who are thinking of studying abroad is to prepare early. I decided to study abroad late, so I felt like I was running out of time. Studying abroad requires more preparation than you think! There were challenges with the timing of the issuance of visas, and I had to carve out time to write essays for the study abroad scholarship applications, among other things. If you are planning to study abroad, I recommend that you start early; use your vacation time and free time to get started. Any final thought you want to share? My experience in Korea was one of the most beautiful memories of my college life. Korea is an ordered and developed country and the hi-tech environment captured my heart. My only regret was that I applied to study abroad for only one semester instead of a full academic year. In all, I am so glad I studied abroad at Yonsei University and would recommend the experience without hesitation to anyone who is considering studying abroad. I am sure that my various experiences in Seoul will be helpful after I graduate. I believe that every student who takes the chance to study abroad will enjoy it! To learn more about scholarships for studying abroad, visit: To learn more about the Gilman Scholarship, visit:  

Rutgers Graduate Earns Pickering Fellowship to Promote Positive Change in the World

Thursday, January 19th
Pamela Hernandez has blazed a trail as a first-generation college graduate seeking to enter the Foreign Service. Growing up as the daughter of Mexican immigrants who came to the United States with very little and made her aware of hardships in the world, Pamela Hernandez always knew she wanted to help other people.  As a student at Rutgers, her awareness of the challenges women faced around the world grew, honing her interest in making a difference. “My parents inspired me to study politics and talked about the struggles they faced growing up impoverished in Mexico,” said Hernandez. “The news was always on and we were always discussing what was happening. It has been that way since I was a kid when it was part of our everyday conversations. So, deciding what I thought was important and what I could do to help was not hard.” Hernandez, a 2018 Rutgers graduate, was recently named a 2023 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellow, an opportunity she hopes to use to address the issue most important to her: dealing with gender equity internationally. Funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Howard University, the program encourages the participation of minority groups and women to diversify the Foreign Service. The award’s namesake served as a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President George H.W. Bush as well as the U.S. Secretary of State for Political Affairs under President Bill Clinton. The program provides recipients a two-year master’s degree scholarship, two summer internship programs, one in the United States and a second in a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas after graduation, as well as Foreign Service mentorship opportunities. Afterwards, recipients must make a five-year commitment to work in Foreign Service. “When I read the description, I could truly envision myself as a Foreign Service officer on the political track,” she said. Hernandez, who grew up in West Orange and now lives in Brooklyn, wants to focus on empowering women throughout the world, a decision she made after being exposed to feminist theory as a leadership scholar at the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Douglass Residential College. As a student, Hernandez researched the political empowerment of indigenous women in Mexico. She has applied to master’s programs at some of the most prestigious universities in the country and plans to begin her studies in September. “The reason I’ve been out of school for this long is because it is so expensive,” 27-year-old Hernandez said. “This provides me the financial support I will need and gives me the opportunity of a lifetime.” Hernandez graduated summa cum laude from the School of Arts and Sciences with a degree in political science and gender studies and a minor in international and global studies. She interned at the New Jersey Department of Education in its bilingual education bureau, assisting with developing bilingual education materials, and with the Center for American Women and Politics, providing assistance to programs such as Ready to Run NJ, a training program for women interested in seeking political office.  Over the past five years, Hernandez has been working as an operations coordinator for the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, a nonprofit organization that focuses on developing bus rapid transit systems and promotes biking, walking and non-motorized transportation globally. She also worked as a project coordinator for the New York City Bar Association’s City Bar Justice Center that helps New Yorkers struggling with poverty and systemic socioeconomic barriers with legal assistance. “In both of my jobs I wore many hats, so I am ready to transition to a job in foreign service where there is so much new for me to learn,” said Hernandez, who speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese fluently, understands French and wants to learn Chinese Mandarin. She is hoping to go somewhere she has never been once she starts her job with the State Department – China, South Korea, Japan or countries in Southeast Asia like Thailand or Laos. She says her parents, who came to the United States together as teenagers after meeting at a wedding in Mexico, didn’t have the opportunities she has had to go to college. That is a big reason why she read books, kept up with world news and studied hard. “I think my parents are a little shocked about all of this,” Hernandez said. “I think they’ll really believe it when I make it to the State Department.” Anne Wallen, director of the Office of Distinguished Fellowship at Rutgers, said the scholarship is extremely competitive. “Pam’s success is a tribute to her talent and resilience,” said Wallen. “She will be a great representative of the diversity of New Jersey and the United States in the Foreign Service.” This article originally appeared in Rutgers Today.


Friendship Fridays: Cooking Demo

Friday, February 10th
4:00 pm
  Location: 30 College Ave Friendship Fridays are a weekly event open to all Rutgers students, both domestic and international. Each week there is a different theme where attendees can enjoy games, activities, and conversation - all while making new friends from around the world. Join us for a live cooking demonstration to learn how to make some easy and affordable, crowd-pleasing dishes for Sunday's big football game. Space is limited - attendees must RSVP here through the Get Involved event page.  

Friendship Fridays: Art Class with Wes

Friday, February 17th
4:00 pm
  Location: Collaborative Learning Center, LSC Friendship Fridays are a weekly event open to all Rutgers students, both domestic and international. Each week there is a different theme where attendees can enjoy games, activities, and conversation - all while making new friends from around the world. This week, join us for an hour-long, still life sketch lesson with artist Wes Sherman.  Beginners and experienced artists are welcome.  Bring a pencil or other writing instrument and some paper.   Artist and curator Wes Sherman has been involved in the arts since 1992. He received his MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 2003. He is an adjunct professor of studio arts William Patterson University and Raritan Valley College, and the chair of exhibitions at The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster, New Jersey. Sherman has also been a visiting artist at many universities among them Temple, Rutgers, and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 2011, he also received a fellowship for painting from New Jersey Council of the Arts.