RMC Students Earn Prestigious Scholarships for Study Abroad

News Story categories: Asian Studies Japanese Studies

Two Randolph-Macon art students have been awarded prestigious scholarships to spend a semester abroad in Japan this fall. 

Ashton Will in Japan

Senior Ashton Will received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State. Will, a Studio Art and Asian Studies double major and Japanese Studies minor, is studying Japanese language, aesthetics, and design at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. Will hopes to be inspired while abroad by a kind of cultural immersion that will impact him as a person and an artist. In his scholarship application, he detailed plans to write a blog about his international experiences and host an exhibit featuring the art he makes in Japan. He expects his time abroad will help him gain a more comprehensive understanding of Japanese art and culture.

“I can only go so far in my understanding of Japanese culture as an outsider looking in, so by being in Japan, I want to gain an insider’s perspective.”

Established in 2001, the Gilman Scholarship supports international study and internship opportunities for undergraduates who qualify for the federal Pell Grant. Through its support of students with high financial need, the program aims to increase access for groups who’ve been historically underrepresented in education abroad. 

“If it weren’t for my previous Japanese language courses, I would be so lost. Also, having taken classes related to the culture has helped the most. I feel that there are complicated aspects of the culture that would be hard to understand otherwise.”

Lauryn McMeans in Japan

Senior Lauryn McMeans received the Tanaka & Green Academic Scholarship from the Japan-America Society of Washington D.C. McMeans is a Studio Art major and Biology and Japanese Studies double minor. McMeans is thankful for the preparation she’s received through the Japanese Studies minor and credits the program for her confidence in navigating life abroad. 

While abroad, McMeans will study Japanese language, design, and ceramics at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. During her time in Japan, McMeans hopes to get out of her comfort zone and experience personal growth through “interactions with new people, traveling to new places, and adjusting to a much different culture.”

Named after two former presidents of the Japan-American Society of Washington DC, the Tanaka and Green Academic Scholarships support US students in short-term academic study at a college or university in Japan. 

The Office of International Education (OIE) at Randolph-Macon works closely with Yellow Jackets to help them find the best-fit study abroad program based on their individual interests, goals, and needs. The OIE also assists students in applying for third-party scholarships, like the Gilman or the Tanaka and Green, or for internal scholarships that boost financial access for international travel and study. 

Every semester the Office of International Education hosts a Gilman Scholarship Information Session to provide an overview of the scholarship and application process. This semester’s session will be held on Thursday, November 10 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Fox Hall room 108.