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Six Students Win Gilman International Scholarships

Sara Ortiz ’24, Riddhi Patel ’24, Jarrett Marrapese ’23, Gaetan Jean Louis ’25, Trystan Melas ’23, Isabelle Covert ’23

Gilman International Scholarship winners, left to right: Sara Ortiz ’24, Riddhi Patel ’24, Jarrett Marrapese ’23, Gaetan Jean Louis ’25, Trystan Melas ’23, Isabelle Covert ’23 (SUNY Geneseo photo/Keith Walters '11).

An institutional record number of six SUNY Geneseo students have so far won Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships in the 2021–22 national competition: Isabelle Covert ’23 (Iceland), Gaetan Jean Louis ’25 (Senegal), Jarrett Marrapese ’23 (Japan), Trystan Melas ’23 (Austria), Sara Ortiz ’24 (South Korea), and Riddhi Patel ’24 (South Korea). Since 2007, 37 Geneseo students have won Gilman scholarships.

The State Department award financially assists U.S. undergraduates of limited financial means in pursuing academic studies or credit-bearing, career-oriented internships abroad to better prepare them to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.

Isabelle Covert, a junior education high school and secondary studies major from Middleport, NY, will spend Summer 2022 in Reykjavik, Iceland, with the Writing and Knowing the Land study abroad led by Lytton Smith, professor of English, and Nicholas Warner, associate professor of geological sciences. Covert’s interest in Iceland began with their folklore, and the program will allow her to understand more about its people and culture.

Gaetan Jean Louis, a freshman psychology and sociology double major who grew up in Haiti, speaks Haitian Creole, French, Spanish, and Portuguese and is learning Arabic. He’ll spend Summer 2022 in Dakar, Senegal, with Geneseo’s Modernity and Western Africa study abroad program, led by associate professor of Francophone studies Kodjo Adabra. Louis hopes to attend Yale Law School ahead of a career in international law.

Jarrett Marrapese, a junior from Honeoye, NY, is an international relations and psychology double major who plans a career with the U.S. State Department as a foreign service officer in the East Asia region. He recently also won a nationally competitive Freeman Asia Scholarship for study in Japan. Marrapese will spend 2022–23 studying at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, improving his Japanese fluency and learning about Japanese customs, traditions, and culture.

Trystan Melas, a sophomore psychology and sociology major from Delmar, NY, will spend Summer 2022 in Austria with the Psychology and Culture in Vienna study abroad program led by Distinguished Teaching Professor of Psychology Ganie DeHart. Melas is intrigued by Austrian culture, especially its history in the development of psychology notables Sigmund Freud and Victor Frankl, whose work is relevant to Melas’s goal to become a clinical psychologist.

Sarah Ortiz, a psychology major from New York City who dreams of opening an art therapy clinic for children and young adults, will spend Fall 2022 in Seoul, South Korea, with the Sogang University Exchange. She grew up in a Colombian-American household but grew to love South Korean popular music, known as K-Pop. “Every culture has its own form of music. South Korea sparked my love for music, and visiting it is an opportunity I am not willing to miss.”

Riddhi Patel, a first-generation student from North Tonawanda, NY, is a sophomore political science major with a minor in East Asia, Pacific, and Australian studies. She will spend 2022–23 at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea. Fluent in five languages and gaining proficiency in another, Patel plans a career with the State Department. “I have an ability with language and want to apply this skill in a political setting through translation and/or diplomacy.”

“SUNY Geneseo is proud of our students for choosing to study abroad at the highest participation rate in the SUNY system,” says Sam Cardamone, director of the Study Abroad Office. “We are committed to equitable access and seek to provide a range of off-campus academic opportunities that are attainable for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Cardamone expects that the economic impact of COVID-19 will reverberate for years to come, and he’s “thankful for programs like the Gilman program to create opportunity for our most financially vulnerable students.”

The recipients of this prestigious scholarship attend 467 U.S. colleges and represent all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Gilman Scholars will study or intern in 96 countries through the end of 2022. Since the program’s establishment in 2001, more than 1,300 U.S. institutions have sent over 33,000 Gilman Scholars of diverse backgrounds to 151 countries around the globe.

Gilman Scholarship applications for Summer 2022, Fall 2022, and academic year 2022–23 open in mid-January with a March 1, 2022, submission deadline. Students and alumni seeking more information about and assistance with applications for the Gilman International Scholarship and any other fellowship or scholarship program should contact Michael Mills, Director of National Fellowships and Scholarships, at or 585-245-6002.

—Michael Mills