Senior international studies major Ezra Epperly is studying abroad at Soonchunhyang University in Sinchang, South Korea as the recipient of a US Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. This prestigious scholarship is awarded to students of limited financial means who wish to study or intern aboard in an effort to provide them with skills critical to our national security and economic prosperity.

Epperly first learned of this scholarship opportunity from her academic advisor Dr. Jonathan Skaff, professor and director of International Studies, and with the encouragement of Mary Burnett, director of Global Engagement, she decided to apply.

“Both Dr. Skaff and Mary Burnett helped me through the application and revised my essays. I cannot thank them enough for the help. Both of them are top-tier advisors,” said Epperly.

As a fan of K-pop, Epperly dreamed of visiting South Korea and was excited about the opportunity to live and learn there this year.

In the fall semester she took four Korean language courses and this semester looks forward to history and political science courses. She is also working in a language exchange program at the university.

“I’m assigned to Korean students that I meet every week. We talk to each other in English and usually go to lunch or play a game. In the English Lounge I go over worksheets with the Korean Students and offer tutoring,” Epperly explained.

Beyond work and the classroom, Epperly said meeting people from all over the world has been her favorite experience so far.

  1. “Last semester we had students from Colombia, Mexico, Finland, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Switzerland, France, Japan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, England, Italy and South Korean. We lived together in a global village. It was such a cool experience,” Epperly added.

The experience has inspired her to set out to see more of the world, but it’s also been a great reminder of the support she has back home at Ship.

“Shippensburg has been fantastic! I’ve had faculty e-mail me asking about my experience and just checking in. Mary Burnett and Dr. Skaff have been fantastic and so patient in supporting me.”

And she’ pretty proud of herself for taking a chance, applying for the scholarship and studying in her dream location.

“I honestly never thought I would win a scholarship, much less the Gilman. I am so grateful, and very proud of myself.”