CAMDEN, N.J. — Rutgers-Camden accounting major, Bielka Gonzalez, has earned the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship which she will use to study at Ewha Woman’s University in South Korea this fall semester.
According to the university, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs awards the scholarship to U.S. citizen undergraduate students to pursue academic studies or career-oriented internships abroad. Gilman Scholars are often invited to attend diplomatic receptions, present on the U.S. higher education system, and network with foreign participants of U.S. Department of State exchange programs.
“I am so excited to earn this scholarship. It’s a great weight off my shoulders,” Gonzalea, who will use the $2,500 award to pay for housing and flight expenses, said. “I can’t wait to see what opportunities lie ahead.”
According to Rutgers-Camden, the Pennsauken resident says that she especially looks forward to improving her Korean language skills living and studying among native speakers. Her fascination with South Korea actually began when she and her friend took an interest in a popular Korean language Netflix series called Strong Girl Bong-Soon. Although they dutifully watched the show with English subtitles, she wanted to understand it in Korean and was soon learning the language online.
“I got so invested in it,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez plans to blog about her experiences living in South Korea on the website Mindful Banter Travel. She already has posted on such topics as explaining how to apply for study abroad programs and seek financial aid assistance and about her inspiration for traveling to South Korea and what she expects to get out of the experience.
This summer, she is preparing for her semester abroad by taking introductory and advanced Korean language classes online through Rutgers University–New Brunswick’s Department of Asian Languages and Cultures.
A Camden native, Gonzalez attended preschooler at LEAP Academy University Charter School, founded by Rutgers University Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor Gloria Bonilla-Santiago.
Fifteen years later, Gonzalez, after graduating from LEAP Academy in 2016, began studies at Rutgers–Camden’s Honors College.
In her first year, Gonzalez completed two internships in Center City Philadelphia with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that the Rutgers School of Business–Camden and the Career Center helped her find. She recently completed another internship with the company this spring, helping expatriates and inpatriates complete their taxes in accordance with U.S. regulations as a member of PwC’s Global Mobility Service Team.
Gonzalez has also volunteered during her time on campus. She led the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk for the past two years and served as a Jumpstart Corps member, tutoring preschoolers at the Early Learning Research Academy – where she once attended – at Rutgers–Camden.
“I love the children – I was in their shoes before,” she says. “I want to give back to my community.”
Gonzalez is currently earning her certification to teach English as a Foreign Language upon graduating next spring.
“Who would have known 10 years ago that I would be this professional businesswoman going to South Korea. It’s mind-boggling,” she says. “Now I’m 19 years old, a year away from graduating, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”