Three Bruhns Scholars to Learn Abroad This Summer
Friday, April 20th, 2012
Three West Virginia Wesleyan College juniors have been recognized for their scholastic achievement and received the honor of being named a 2012 Bruhns Scholar. Each will study abroad this summer thanks to the generosity of Wesleyan friend and alumna Dr. E. Maxine Moose Bruhns ’45, Hon. ‘07.
Matthew Augustus Gillich, a junior music education major from Martinsburg, will travel to Accra, Ghana to further his knowledge of jazz and experience African culture.
During the nearly two months Gillich will be in Ghana, he will study African Music and Dance and African Story telling. “This trip will allow me to immerse myself in a musically rich culture that has no phrase for ‘musically rich’ because music is such an integral part of their daily lives,” Gillich said. “I will use the knowledge I obtain from my studies to educate other students.”
After obtaining his undergraduate degree, Gillich plans to pursue master’s and doctorate degrees in the field of ethnomusicology. “I also plan to create a broad-based program to help students grow as individuals through art and music,” he said.
Without the Bruhns Scholarship, Gillich said he would not have been able to finance studying abroad.
Gillich is a Sarah Carr Parsons Scholarship recipient and a member of the Social Justice League, Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Trumpet Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Small Jazz Ensemble and Concert Chorale.
Junior biology/pre-med major Gabrielle LaFata of Morgantown will leave for Northern Israel in late June.
LaFata said she chose Northern Israel because of the opportunity to further educate herself in areas not related to science. She also wanted to travel to an area that would enable her to learn more history of the Bible and a different culture.
As only part of her experience in Northern Israel, LaFata hopes to learn about the city of Tel-Hazor, which she will help excavate as part of the archeological dig. LaFata said she is looking forward to meeting students from other countries during time in Northern Israel.
“I am most looking forward to the independence that traveling alone will bring, the hands-on environment of learning, and obtaining a broader idea of my Biblical roots,” she commented. “This is my first time out of the country and I hope to broaden my horizons and ideas of the world. I will be able to experience an area that is not 94 percent white and 85 percent Christian; thus, giving me a new perspective that can help me relate to my patients as a future physician.”
At Wesleyan, LaFata is active with resident life, Fellowship of Christian Students, Alpha Lambda Delta, Phi Kappa Phi, Beta Beta Beta, and the honors program. She has been honored as the Freshman Biology Student of the Year and Junior Honor’s Student of the Year. The Dean’s and President’s List student also received a first Place finish in the Science Division of the Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Research Conference.
“Knowing this scholarship comes from a private donor, I hope to provide this opportunity for future students who are in my same financial and time constraints,” LaFata added.
Buckhannon resident Evid Miller, a double major in writing and gender studies, is set to travel to Turkey this summer to study at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.
“I have been interested in Turkey for several years, for both historical reasons and current world politics,” Miller said. “The country has been home to the capitals of most of the major empires of the region, and today it stands as one of the only stable secular democracies in the region.”
Miller says he plans to learn “everything I can.” He will enroll in Boğaziçi University for a six-week summer term take a classes about human geography of gender and politics in the modern Middle East. In addition, Miller will participate in trips to historical sites in Turkey.
“The Bruhns Scholarship is specifically tailored to longer durations of stay and provides the chance to bring back my experience to the campus and the community,” Miller said.
“As a writing major, my life and career are story driven,” Miller said. “This experience will allow me to interact with people and hear their stories. As a Gender Studies major, I’m very interested in the ways which gender is pre-formed in societies. The opportunity to experience living in another society, and learning about it in the classroom is critical to understanding the very complex ways that gender and society influence one another.”
When Miller returns to Wesleyan for the fall semester, he plans to apply to graduate programs in both gender studies and writing. He also intends to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship, which is the United States Department of State’s study abroad program.
On campus, Miller is involved with WE LEAD as the Social Justice coordinator, PRISM and the Honors Program.
Born in Grafton, WV, Dr. Bruhns has devoted much of her life to the study and appreciation of and participation in other cultures. She has traveled the world, a champion of internationalism and global living. Her work has spanned the globe, from resettling refuges in isolated areas of different countries, helping others and fostering understanding and communication across cultures. Her travel and experiences have helped her to develop deep understanding and scholarly presentations about the different cultures of the world, which she delivers to students and scholars at The University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning. The exhibits she has built there honor the ethnic heritages of many cultures, nations and peoples. Now, she is giving Wesleyan students the opportunity to become global scholars, allowing them to learn and experience more of the world beyond our borders.