Sonoma State students awarded competitive Gilman Scholarships to study abroad

June 25, 2024
girl with owl

Ashlee Duckworth

Sonoma State students Katerine Russo and Ashlee Duckworth have been selected for the nationally competitive Gilman Scholarship to study abroad.

The Gilman Program – run by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) – supports American undergraduate students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad. The program emphasizes countries and regions where fewer Americans traditionally study. 

Duckworth was awarded $5,000 to study zoology and psychology in Ghana for the 2024-25 academic year. Russo was awarded $3,000 to participate in the Summer 2024 SSU faculty-led program, “Myth, Dream, and Symbol” in Ireland. Both programs are offered through the California State University International Programs (CSUIP).  

“I have dreamed of going to Africa since I was five years old. But given my financial situation, I didn’t think studying abroad would be possible,” Duckworth said. She credits Hope Ortiz, SSU Global Engagement Coordinator, with encouraging her to apply for the Gilman scholarship, and both Ortiz and Professor Shannon Lee with shepherding her through the process.

“Seeing the wildlife and biodiversity in person is going to be unreal for me,” Duckworth said.

“My first month will be spent being shown around and educated about the country by the CSUIP.  I’ll be honored to have the chance to learn about Ghana’s rich culture and unique history firsthand,” she said. During the year, she hopes to travel to other African countries and some parts of Europe. 

Since 2001, the Gilman Scholarship program has enabled more than 41,000 outstanding Americans of diverse backgrounds to engage in a meaningful educational experience abroad in 160 countries. Six other Sonoma State students have been selected for the scholarship since 2020.


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Janet Durkin