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Kiki Spiezio – Gilman Scholarship

Name: Katrina “Kiki” Spiezio

Class Year: 2017

Hometown: Taunton, MA

Major(s): Politics

Minors or Concentrations: Studio Art, Poverty and Human Capabilities Studies

Opportunity and Year: Gilman Scholarship Program, 2014-15

Project Summary: The Gilman Scholarship Program offers awards for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding to participate in study abroad programs worldwide. I used the funds to cover a W&L spring term abroad course in China, studying language and culture for 6 weeks. As long as a minimum four weeks are spent abroad, you are eligible to apply. In addition, you must complete a follow-on service project. My service project is to expand study abroad and scholarship outreach at my former charter school, on the W&L campus, and throughout the national QuestBridge Scholars Network.

How did W&L prepare you for this opportunity? If I had not signed up for the fellowships emails from Dean Gwyn E. Campbell and did not pay attention to Campus Notices, I would have completely missed out on the opportunity to apply for the Gilman. W&L has taught me that you are (and that you have to be) the best advocate for yourself – which helped me to prepare a strong, competitive application. W&L also fosters such close relationships between faculty and students; Dean France went above and beyond to help me submit my application even though it was last minute.

Why did you apply for this opportunity? I applied for this opportunity because I had never studied abroad before, and I was looking for additional scholarships to cover what W&L’s spring term aid would not. I really wanted to study abroad in China because I only began studying Chinese the same academic year, even though I was adopted from China as a baby.

Post-graduation Plans: I am interested in pursuing a career at the intersection of public service, social entrepreneurship, and international affairs. What that looks like exactly, I’m not yet entirely sure – but I am excited to see where my future takes me.

How will this opportunity help you achieve your goals? The Gilman Scholarship program helped to provide me with my first study-abroad experience, and for that I am forever grateful. Studying abroad truly widens one’s horizons, and going to China showed me first-hand how connected the world is and will continue to be. In this sense, the Gilman program helped to shape how I see my own future and career goals. On another note, being selected for a Gilman scholarship gave me the confidence to research and apply for other major fellowships for which I now feel like I am on a competitive level.

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Bonner Service Program
  • Quest Scholars Co-President
  • Club Polo Secretary
  • Phonathon
  • Women’s Leadership Summit
  • Volunteer Venture Leader

Off-campus Experience:

  • QuestBridge National Ambassador Executive Board
  • Bonner National Advisory Board
  • Shepherd Poverty Internship in NYC (Summer 2014)
  • Shepherd Poverty Internship in Dominican Republic (Summer 2015)
  • Alternative Break Trips to Asheville, NC, Shreveport, LA, and Birmingham, AL

Research Experience:

I would say that almost all of my experiences in some way contribute to my broader ‘research’ interests with poverty-related issues.

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