Cole Ward, a junior from Sisseton, S.D., and a McNair scholar at the University of North Dakota has been awarded a Gilman Scholarship which is helping to fund a semester of study in France this semester.
Majoring in Criminal Justice and Sociology with minors in French and political science, Ward will begin studying in Caen, a city in lower Normandy, on Wednesday, Jan. 30.
His semester will be focused on French language and culture.
Ward’s interest in French began after taking a semester of it at UND.
“I really got interested in the culture and the language,” Ward said. “My French professor encouraged me to pursue it, so I did. This scholarship will allow me to look at other culture’s views on juvenile delinquency – the focus of my McNair research- and see how they deal with it.”
The Gilman Scholarship application process required Ward to write essays and to complete a follow-up project when he returns from his semester abroad. The follow-up project involves finding a way to promote the Gilman Scholarship as well as education in the community. For his project, Ward will be speaking and giving presentations to his high school in South Dakota.
“I will be doing my follow-up project back home because of the high Native American population,” Ward said. “It’s not very often that someone from Sisseton, S.D., let alone the reservation, leaves the state or goes to a different country, so I want to show them that the possibilities for them are endless.”
Receiving this scholarship opens up a world of possibilities for Ward.
“Not only does it allow me to travel to France, but it also opens up the doors with the federal government,” Ward said. “By receiving the Gilman Scholarship, I am able to apply for the Boren Scholarship, which requires a person to work with the federal government in exchange for funding.”
This would be ideal for Ward who intends to pursue a career as a U.S. Marshal after graduation.
Faculty makes a difference
The faculty at UND has encouraged Ward to pursue studying abroad.
“Frank White an assistant professor of sociology really pushed me to go to France and Wendelin Hume an associate professor of criminal justice was a huge help with advisement” Ward said.
“A lot of credit goes to Joan Hawthorne, UND director of assessment and regional accreditation, for helping me prepare to apply for this scholarship,” Ward said. “She spent countless hours going over my essays and met with me on a weekly basis to make sure I was on track.”
In Native American culture, families are close knit and tend to stay relatively close to each other, so it’s no surprise that Ward’s family was reticent about him studying abroad.
“It was difficult going against my family’s wishes, but this was something I felt I needed to do,” Ward said. “My grandparents and uncle have been the biggest influences on my life. When they said they didn’t want me to go, I listened to them but realized that if I didn’t seize this opportunity it might not present itself again.
“I’m excited for the new experiences studying abroad will bring for me. It’s a great opportunity and I’m ready for it to begin.”
The Gilman Scholarship Program, provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, awards funding on a competitive basis to undergraduate students to study abroad. The Bureau’s aim is to foster mutual understanding and promote friendly, sympathetic and peaceful relations among countries.
Emily Aasand, University Relations Student Writer