Transylvania University student Rhianna Culp has received a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which will help pay for her to study in the inaugural Transylvania in Ireland program this summer.
Based at the Burren College of Art in County Clare, the program immerses students in the Emerald Isle’s rich culture while they learn from local and regional experts. In the interdisciplinary spirit of Transylvania’s liberal arts tradition, Culp will spend the trip studying history and making art.
The scholarship, which will pay for $2,000 of the first-year student’s trip, is a U.S. Department of State grant program that helps participants better understand other countries, cultures, economies and languages. It is administered by the Institute for International Education.
This won’t the first trip to Ireland for Culp, who recently visited the country with her family. “When I was there, I really loved it,” she said. The trip gave her a chance to explore her interests in the Druidic religion—along with the history of Ireland and England, which she likely will research later in graduate school.
Culp, who is from Lexington, plans to delve even deeper into Irish history during the course, which is May 31 to June 22. She is a history major with an education minor and plans to get her teaching certificate.
She also will paint watercolors in Ireland and then sell them when she returns, using the proceeds to fund her own scholarship for other students to study abroad. The fundraising is part of the Gilman scholarship, which requires recipients perform a service project. “I really enjoy art; it’s a big part of me,” she said. In fact, Culp has artwork in Morlan Gallery’s Juried Student Art Exhibition, which opens Friday.
The scholarship is named after the late congressman Benjamin A. Gilman from New York. “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates,” Gilman once said. “Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”
Students also receive financial assistance to take the Transylvania in Ireland course through the Earle and Cathy O’Donnell Endowment for Irish Studies.