Gilman Scholarship Provides Four Augustana Students Opportunity to Study Abroad in 2024

By Keeley Meier '20 | February 22, 2024
Study Away 2024

At Augustana, more than 50% of students study abroad by the time they graduate — almost five times the national average. Through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, four more Augustana students are getting the opportunity to make the world their classroom.

Susana Gebrekidan ‘26, Ashley Grandpre ‘24, Rachida Mahamed ‘25 and Alena Vishnevsky ‘26 are the 2023-24 recipients of the Gilman Scholarship — an award that allows students to study abroad who may not have been able to otherwise.

Susana Gebrekidan ‘26

SusanaSusana Gebrekidan, of Sioux Falls, and formerly of Eritrea, Africa, is a government & international affairs and international studies double major. She is spending the spring semester in South Africa studying politics and government through a non-Western lens. 

“I'm specifically taking courses on geopolitics, what the global south looks like economically and so many different things that I'm very passionate about like NGOs (non-governmental organizations),” Gebrekidan said. “The main thing I want to do is focus on my continent and work in areas (such as) education, government or health — those are the three main things I'm very passionate about. And, whether it be in my own country or South Africa, my end goal is to really help (find) what is best for each nation and how we can advance the continent.”

Gebrekidan said her acceptance into the Gilman Scholarship Program wouldn’t have been possible without the Augustana International Programs Office (IPO).

“Erin Kane (interim co-director of the IPO and study-away advisor) is one of the main reasons I feel even remotely confident about going to a different country and back to my continent after 13 years. If she says she's going to help you, she's going to help you, and I think her help was immense,” said Gebrekidan. “Umaima Koch (international student & study-away advisor) was also right there with me. She was telling me more about it — what things to expect.”

Ashley Grandpre ‘24

Ashley Grandpre

Ashley Grandpre is a nursing major from Rapid City, South Dakota. She spent January Interim (J-Term) in Ecuador with the nursing course, Transition to Leadership & Professional Practice.

“I selected Ecuador as my study-abroad destination because of its Spanish language opportunities, the valuable exposure to different health care systems and styles of healing, and the unique health challenges that cannot be found locally,” Grandpre said. “I also enthusiastically selected Ecuador as I was enticed by the chance to establish pop-up clinics for underserved populations.

“Throughout this experience, I collaborated with various organizations in the capital city of Quito and remote jungle communities surrounding Misahuallí. I also had the opportunity to do clinical (work) in the hospitals of Quito, which allowed me to get an immersive experience of what nursing looks like in another country.”

Grandpre, who plans to become a labor & delivery/postpartum nurse following graduation, said her experience in Ecuador enhanced her understanding of culturally-sensitive patient care. 

“The Gilman Scholarship’s values and goals aligned with my commitment to fostering cultural competence in nursing — allowing me to bring a more inclusive and informed approach to patient care,” said Grandpre.

Rachida Mahamed ‘25


Rachida Mahamed, of Sioux Falls, and Yaounde, Cameroon, is a government & international affairs and international studies double major. She’s spending the spring semester in Brussels, Belgium. 

“Studying abroad is one of the best ways to expand your knowledge of the world, break down biases and become a global citizen filled with compassion,” Mahamed said. “I love being in new places and building connections with people with different backgrounds. The Gilman is allowing me to do that by removing the financial barriers that come with a study-abroad dream.”

Mahamed is pursuing an independent study at the Brussels School of Governance. She said she hopes to advance in her French studies. After Augustana, Mahamed has plans to support women-led organizations fighting gender-based issues in the global south.

“This scholarship is allowing me to develop as a student and, as someone who aspires to work in public service, lessening the burden of costs,” said Mahamed. “With this scholarship, I will be able to expand my network of mentors, friends and goals by connecting with those around me.”

Alena Vishnevsky ‘26

Alena Vishnevsky

Alena Vishnevsky is from Sioux Falls, and triple majoring in government & international affairs, languages, literatures & cultures, as well as Spanish. She is spending the spring semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, taking several cultural, social and political courses in Spanish, as well as a government course in English.

“I chose this country because I grew up there from when I was eight until 16 years old,” Vishnevsky said. “It will always be my second home. Also, I wanted to continue studying in Spanish and be able to experience the city once again as a tourist with a new perspective.”

Vishnevsky, who’s considering a career as a foreign service officer or working for a U.S. Embassy, also credits Kane for her support during the application process.

“Simply put, receiving this scholarship means a lot to me because I never thought I would be able to afford studying abroad at all,” said Vishnevsky. “It is allowing me to make one of my dreams come true.”

In order for students to qualify for the Gilman Scholarship Program, they have to be Federal Pell Grant eligible, a U.S. citizen and in the process of applying or accepted to a credit-bearing study-abroad or internship program. Students must apply at, but Kane and the Augustana Office of Financial Aid are required to sign their application first. The next round of Gilman Scholarship Program applications closes on Thursday, March 7.

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