Graduate award recipients take studies overseas

Amara Tennessee

Graduate award recipients take studies overseas

I n 2020, Georgia College graduates Amara Tennessee and Cain Gantt each received awards for post-graduate study that would take them out of the country during a time of tightening travel regulations in the midst of the global pandemic. Both have since been carrying on their studies as Covid continues to create obstacles to overcome as well as new opportunities to learn. “Obviously, the pandemic put a pause on the program and has thrust Fulbright into a new format of teaching, but I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything,” Tennessee said.

Amara Tennessee in Columbia.
Amara Tennessee in Columbia.

Tennessee received a Fulbright to teach English in Columbia at la Universidad de Boyacá through May of 2022, “Many of the courses at my university are still online due to the pandemic,” she said, “the situation is teaching me to be adaptable and patient as we navigate this online learning platform together.” Tennessee received the news that she had won the Fulbright scholarship while walking her dog shortly after the national shutdown went into effect, “I remember the news bringing me to my knees while I cried,” she said. 

Obviously, the pandemic put a pause on the program and has thrust Fulbright into a new format of teaching, but I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything.
– Amara Tennessee

Cain Gantt is in a similar situation at the Universität Hamburg in Germany, having been awarded a Study Scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) award (Germany’s equivalent to the Fulbright) last year. “It has been a unique set of challenges to adapt from in-person undergraduate studies at the relatively small GC to online graduate-level courses at the very large Universität Hamburg,” Gantt said. He’s currently working on getting his Master’s in Mathematical Physics and will be in Germany throughout the duration of his graduate work.

He was notified of his acceptance in August of 2020, before he’d even finished the application process to the university, “All of the time in between was nerve-racking, not least due to the uncertainty the pandemic introduced,” he said.

However, despite the disruption that the pandemic has caused to overseas learning, it has done little to dissuade his enthusiasm for learning the culture. “I have no experience with the German education system outside of the pandemic,” he said, “my classes over the winter ‘20/’21 and summer ’21 semesters were taught entirely online, which has been a challenge to adapt. However, this winter semester (mid-October through end of January) will have in-person and hybrid classes for the first time, and I am excited to meet my colleagues!”

Cain Gantt in Germany.
Cain Gantt in Germany.

Both Tennessee and Gantt both say that studying abroad continues to be a tremendous and worthwhile investment in their future despite the impediments of Covid. “I cannot overstate how influential my time abroad has been on helping me expand my perspective on the world,” Gantt said. Tennessee agreed, “traveling provides the opportunity to see and enjoy so many other places,” she said, “feel the fear and do it anyway.”

In addition to how much both have learned of their respective countries of study, they both credit the National Scholarships Office with its help in finding and processing their applications. “The office assisted me in selecting a county to apply to, understanding the application process, reviewing each of my application essays and more,” said Tennessee. Gantt added, “Ms. Whiteside (National Scholarship Office Coordinator Anna Whiteside) has been an invaluable resource for me over the years… By far, the most salient thing is her seemingly endless ability to revise draft after draft of application cover letters and personal statements. This sort of writing used to be a weak point of mine. Her feedback over countless applications has taught me how to stay short-and-sweet and on-topic while highlighting the aspects of my experiences that are most relevant for each individual application.”

Despite the challenges that the pandemic has placed in their way, many students are still finding ways to travel and learn abroad. The National Scholarship Office is the best place to start for students interested in expanding their reach beyond the states after graduating and overcoming any obstacle that might stand in their way, no matter the size.