Mineral Countian among WVU students to study abroad

Special to the News Tribune
West Virginia University

MORGANTOWN—Three West Virginia University students - including one from Mineral County - have had their commitment to an international education recognized through the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has inhibited students’ ability to travel abroad during the 2020-2021 academic year, WVU’s latest Gilman Scholars plan to broaden their studies globally in the areas of immunology and oncology research, public health, and Mandarin Chinese.

Nikki Cannon, a senior Honors biology student from Fort Ashby, wants to better understand the human body’s immune response, in particular looking at the innate immune system, or the physical, chemical and cellular defenses that form the human body’s first line of defense against pathogens.

She intends to use the Gilman award to study at the Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey, to perform research in this crucial field. Cannon’s education abroad experience is currently scheduled to run from October through January 2022.

“I have chosen to study in Turkey because of the country’s focus on oncology and immunology research,” Cannon said. “At Boğaziçi University, the faculty focus on the innate immune system which will greatly allow me to expand upon my research in this field.”

Jordan Means, a senior Honors immunology and medical microbiology student minoring in psychology, had planned to take part in the Public Health Summer Track at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Although the program for summer 2021 was cancelled, Means still intends to pursue public health studies.

From Elkview, a town just outside of Charleston, Means is interested in developing a greater understanding of public health issues in rural areas at home and abroad.

“I wanted to study Public Health in South Africa, because I have had great insight into how infectious diseases work and the impact they can have on the body,” Means said. “However, I want to have a better perspective on how different places across the world handle situations like these and the prevention methods they use. I had often heard South Africa mentioned during my public health class, and in some ways, I saw parallels in the healthcare issues here in rural West Virginia.”

Joy Pauley, a junior international studies student minoring in Chinese studies and sociology from Charleston, intends to use her Gilman Scholarship for intensive language study at Lingnan University in Hong Kong during Spring 2022. Pauley has studied Mandarin Chinese for two years at WVU.

“I am going into my third year of learning Mandarin Chinese, which is the key motivation for selecting Hong Kong as my host country,” Pauley said. “Hong Kong is considered the window to China; this is beneficial to me because I hope to one day live and work in China and studying and living there by myself will give me valuable experience for the future.”

The Gilman Scholarship enables students to gain skills that are critical to the country’s national security and economic prosperity while gaining an enriching cultural and career-building experience.

"We are thrilled that the world is opening again and that our students will likely be able to embark on their travel plans soon,” said Cate Johnson, assistant director of the ASPIRE Office. “Our new Gilman Scholars reflect the adventurous Mountaineer spirit as they ‘go first’ into education abroad after our world has been newly shaped by the pandemic."

Students who are interested in applying for this or other nationally competitive scholarships can email aspire@mail.wvu.edu for an appointment.

Applicants for the Gilman Scholarship are certified by the Office of Global Affairs and Financial Aid.