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Two Hunter Students Win $5,000 Study-Abroad Grants From Benjamin Gilman Scholarship Program

Two Hunter students have each won a $5,000 scholarship that will enable them to study abroad this winter.

The grants are from the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program, and the courses the students will take are part of Hunter’s Education Abroad Program.

Saira Mohammad, a senior, will travel to Egypt to study “Egypt and the Arab/Islamic World: Past and Present,” and Aaron Dolor, a junior, will be exploring “Spanish Language and Literature in Argentina.” Mohammad’s trip runs from December 26-January 24, and Dolor’s from December 27-January 25.

The Gilman Scholarship Program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

Mohammad, who is majoring in biochemistry and minoring in Arabic, will spend most of her trip in Cairo but will also travel down the Nile and visit Alexandria and Luxor. She will take a cultural course focusing on Egyptian history, Islamic arts and architecture, Christianity and Judaism in Egypt, Egypt-U.S. relations, Islamic feminism, and Egyptian popular culture. She will also study the colloquial Egyptian dialect and take part in cultural exchanges in which students will have the opportunity to meet informally with Cairo residents.

“I’m very excited about this program,” said Mohammad, adding: “I hope ultimately to help people globally, not just those in this country, and it’s important that I understand other cultures. I’ve heard about a non-American culture from my parents, who were born in Pakistan, but I’ve never experienced life in other cultures firsthand.”

After she graduates this June, Mohammad, who currently has a 3.67 GPA, plans to spend a year doing internships so she can decide on a career. “I’m considering going for a degree in pharmacy,” she said, “but I’m also very much interested in the arts and in social issues, so I want to explore various possibilities.”

Dolor, like Mohammad, is majoring in biochemistry. His group’s visit will begin in Buenos Aires, where the students will explore the capital, and then go on to Mar del Plata, where they will study at the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata. Dolor will study Spanish and take part in excursions to a traditional ranch, museums, theaters, and other sites where students can practice conversation and gain a sense of the local culture.

Dolor, who has a 3.89 GPA and hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in the sciences upon graduating from Hunter, is in Hunter’s MBRS-RISE Program (Minority Biomedical Research Support-Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement), which aids undergraduate minority students seeking scientific careers. As an MBRS-RISE student he works in a Hunter chemistry research lab—and he also works as a student ambassador in the College’s Welcome Center.

“At Hunter I’ve developed a strong interest in language and its interaction with culture,” said Dolor, “and this trip will be a prime opportunity to witness this interaction in a culture new to me. Also, since this will be the longest time I’ve ever spent away from everything I’m familiar with, it will open the door for prodigious amounts of personal growth.”


Published on December 10, 2010

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