Stories From GEL Students

Welcome to our story section where we will highlight Global Experiential Learning students through the stories of their travel and academic success.

We interviewed GEL student, Aaliyah Deggs, below is her video and written interview. Aaliyah is a graduate student in the Higher Education program and she is the Lead for our Grants and Assessment Team and a member of the Southeast Asia Team.

I attended Spelman College in Atlanta, GA for undergrad. Spelman highly encourages students to study abroad and over 70% of their student population has participated in a study abroad program. As a work-study job, I was an Office Assistant in the Office of Study Abroad. During my work there, I learned about various abroad programs and scholarships such as Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Boren Awards for International Study, Luce Scholars Program, Critical Language Scholarship, and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. 

I researched and watched alumni stories via YouTube. Since I had access to the resources in the Study Abroad office, some staff members reviewed my application before submitting it. The process was long and specific. I made sure I submitted everything before the deadlines. However, it was not a smooth process. It was very stressful.

I took a month-long course at the University of Ghana, Accra called Introduction to African Indigenous Religions and Culture. I conducted research on the oral traditions of the Akan (Fante States) ethnic group.

I used my paraprofessional role as a Resident Advisor to complete my service project. As a program requirement, I hosted a diversity and cultural awareness program called "A Different World". The program promoted study abroad and its benefits, as well as the benefits of the Gilman scholarship. I walked my community through the application process (virtual display), deadlines, how I kept myself organized during the process, showed pictures and souvenirs, then I gave away souvenir to the audience, who answered a question correctly about the Gilman scholarship. In addition, I had my friends, who have traveled abroad before share their experiences, gave the audience Gilman brochures and other resources, and shared information about Gilman on my social media.

My biggest takeaway is to constantly communicate with your advisor. Your application status changes frequently, especially after you upload your required documentation. I suggest checking your application status at least three times a week. There was a long delay in my scholarship process that almost prevented me from traveling to Accra, Ghana.

Great question! I don't have a specific example, but I've learned how to travel alone and how to navigate stressful logistical situations.

Go for it! Balance and manage your time and ask help along the process.