Crispin Kamundala from the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship in 2022. The scholarship will help fund Kamundala’s fall semester abroad at Université Catholique de Lyon in Lyon, France.

The Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program encourages students of all academic backgrounds to participate in study abroad programs, acquire professional skills and immerse themselves in a new culture. Since the scholarship’s inception in 2001, more than 34,000 scholarships have been awarded to students participating in study and internship abroad programs around the world. Kamundala is one of two UMaine students to receive this scholarship in the Spring 2022 application cycle.

“Receiving this scholarship not only helps me fund my study abroad program; It shows me that I’m doing a lot more,” says Kamundala. “It showed me that I deserved to be at the top because five years ago, when I came to this country, I didn’t know English. I didn’t imagine myself on that level; therefore, I consider it a success for me.

Kamundala, a political science student with a degree in legal studies, chose the French study program to further his knowledge of the language. She hopes that her studies in Lyon will allow her to develop her French and writing skills, as well as better understand the history and culture of Europe.

After completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Maine, Kamundala plans to pursue a master’s degree in international relations, with the ultimate goal of working for the US Department of State Foreign Service as a consular officer. bachelor’s degree. of Laws and eventually return to your home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and become an immigration lawyer or work as a consular officer for an embassy in your home country. He thinks studying in a foreign country would allow him to better understand how other societies work and the rules that govern them. Kamaundala expressed his enthusiasm for working on human rights issues and meeting people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Kamundala says the support of Nives Dal Bo-Wheeler and the Office of Graduate Scholarships helped him to receive the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship. He says that Dal Bo-Wheeler has been incredibly helpful throughout his career and is very grateful to him for taking the time to help him with his application.

How will studying abroad help you with your academic or professional goals?
By studying in another country, I will be able to enrich my experience of living in a different culture, learning to speak a different language and discovering how to thrive in a different environment. Also, to work as a consular officer and assist people, I must have a solid command of the French language. Knowing that I am fluent in French and English gives me a strong set of language skills that I can use and help others. I was selected to represent the United States on the Gilman Scholars Brussels Belgium Study Tour Fall 2022. This study tour will allow me to understand the political and administrative structures of the EU, which will be useful for working on US-EU relations.

How do you think UMaine prepared you for this opportunity?
I am grateful to UMaine for all the resources they have provided for my academic success. Many teachers have invested their time in helping me in everything I do. I like to be here. It is my home. It has been a long journey to get to where I am today and UMaine has played an important role in my life.

Have you worked with a mentor, teacher, or role model who improved your time at UMaine, and if so, how?
I worked with Professor Mark Brewer and Nives Dal Bo-Wheeler throughout my application process for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship as well as the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. They took their time to help me and be there for me if I needed anything. They put me at ease and I am very happy to have met them. At this point in my life, I see them as more than just teachers; to me they are more like parents to whom I can turn for personal advice and support. Matthew Biddle and Cassandra Belka from TRIO Student Support Services have helped me since I arrived at UMaine. They proofread my essays, corrected my work, and simply helped me with my homework. Being part of the TRIO program was really beneficial to my education as English is my second language so it was invaluable for them to read my work and give me feedback. Finally, the UMaine writing center was also helpful. Paul England from the Writing Center has always had a lot of helpful comments about my essays and I really enjoy working with him.

What are your plans after graduation? How did UMaine prepare you for them?
I want to go to graduate school and get my master’s degree in foreign affairs.

I am currently interested in the Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Fellowship Program for Foreign Affairs, which is a program funded by the US Department of State and operated by Howard University that recruits and develops outstanding young people for US foreign service jobs. Department. I am interested in this program because working in the foreign service is so valuable, as is working on behalf of the American people and on behalf of my new country, a country that gave me a home. Moving to three different countries, starting my life from scratch and adapting to a new culture has become an integral part of who I am and what I appreciate and value. For me, working as a foreign service officer would be the culmination of my personal experience, training and passion.

The fall deadline for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is October 6th to study abroad in spring 2023 and beyond.

For a complete list of scholarships available to UMaine undergraduate and graduate students, visit UMaine Graduate Scholarship Office website. Students interested in learning more about the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship and other top scholarships can also contact the Director of the Office of Major Scholarships, Nives Dal Bo-Wheeler. [email protected].

Contact: Margaret Nagle, [email protected]