Kelsi Brett wins prestigious Gilman Scholarship
"Does a fish know it's wet?"
Kelsi Brett '14, daughter of Andrea and Philip Brett of Burlington, learned this month that she is the recipient of one of the very competitive Gilman International Scholarships. Administered for the U.S. State Department, The Gilman Scholarship is providing Kelsi an $8,000 grant, enabling her to study for spring semester 2013 at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.
Her fascination with the South Korean hip-hop group Epik High sparked an interest in Korea and prompted her to want to study the country and the language. From there grew her passion for the idea of studying in that country. She wrote in her application essay:
I get caught up on the question, "Does a fish know it's wet?" I wonder what about my culture, my country, and my life I just do not see, because I do not know it's there. Traveling to another country would allow me to understand aspects of my own: my culture, my politics, and my ideology... There is an aspect of South Korean culture that mirrors America, though altered. I think through these alterations I will be able to see America more clearly.
Ms. Brett, double major in political science and journalism, graduated from Burlington High School before coming to Saint Michael's. She was selected on the basis of her essay and was awarded an $8,000 scholarship, the top amount given to Gilman scholars.
Administered for the U.S. State Department, The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program "offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad. Such international study is intended to better prepare U.S. students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world. The program aims to encourage students to choose non-traditional study abroad destinations, especially those outside of Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand."
Bolsters her goals of working in international journalism
With a career goal of working in international journalism and politics, Ms. Brett wrote in her essay that studying those subjects from the perspective of Korea would allow her to compare the traditions of Korean journalism and those of the United States. She will also be able to learn the Korean language, a wish planted when she heard the hip-hop lyrics of "One."
"I would love to be able to converse fluently in another language," she said. Since she was very young, she said has been distressed by language barriers between people, and so hopes to break them down.
Ms. Brett said the program requirement of tutoring of a North Korean refugee student in English is, actually, what she hopes to do in South Korea after graduating from Saint Michael's.
Ms. Brett concluded her essay with a quote from the Epik High song 'soul/spirit,' "No matter what anyone says, I absolutely cannot give up on my dream." This is how I feel about South Korea, she wrote. "Not only will I get to learn a new language, I will be able to immerse myself in a culture so completely different from my own. In so doing, I feel I will find myself with a better understanding of the United States in relation to the rest of the world, my view of the world as a whole, and my view of myself."