Kristina Sandiford ’24 spent her January Term on the other side of the world, studying the Chemistry of Winemaking on a travel course in Australia and New Zealand.
A large part of her program was paid for by a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad. Award recipients are chosen through a competitive selection process, with the aim to increase access for groups who have been historically underrepresented in education abroad.
Sandiford, a chemistry major with minors in Spanish and music, traveled with Dr. Serge Schreiner on a program that first began in 2003, and has been traveling internationally since 2007. The class undertook a rigorous study of the chemistry of wine before departing for Australia, exploring tannins, color, acidity, and what to taste for on different parts of the tongue. Once they arrived overseas, Sandiford and her classmates embarked on a tour of wineries in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Queenstown, getting a first-person look at the winemaking process. The students also experienced local landmarks, with trips to the beach in Adelaide and to an opera at the famous Sydney Opera House.
Randolph-Macon College students have previously received Gilman International Scholarships for semester-long travel, but Sandiford is the first to earn one for a J-Term travel course after the U.S. Department of State changed its eligibility criteria for the Gilman Program.
“This is a game changer for students who could only travel for a few weeks, rather than a semester or a year, but are as passionate as any other student with intellectual curiosity and desire for learning experiences outside the classroom,” said Mayumi Nakamura, RMC’s Director of International Education. “Kristina has set a great example for future students to follow, and I hope that this is one of many awardees who will receive a Gilman Scholarship in the future.”
Sandiford hopes to be a cosmetic chemist, and while she doesn’t foresee a future in winemaking, says she found a connection between fine-tuning the aromas of wine and developing beauty products and perfumes that have a pleasant smell. She’s also grateful for the Gilman International Scholarship’s role in allowing her to partake in a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
“A lot of people of color don’t go on trips like this because money is an issue,” Sandiford said. “I’m glad I was able to represent the school….I was very grateful when I got it.”