Sophomore Wins Gilman Scholarship to Pursue Passion for Languages

Vladyslav Wallace portrait

Vladyslav Wallace

UT Dallas sophomore Vladyslav Wallace moved to Plano, Texas, as a child when his parents emigrated from Ukraine. He grew up speaking two languages, often helping his parents translate their native Ukrainian into English.

Wallace pursued his interest in languages by taking a gap year after high school with the National Security Language Initiative for Youth in Moldova, where he perfected his Russian. A double major in global business in the Naveen Jindal School of Management and international political economy in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, he began learning a fifth language last summer during an internship to Estonia.

Wallace’s aptitude and passion for languages have been recognized with the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a distinguished scholarship that enables U.S. students from diverse ethnic backgrounds or disabilities with limited financial means to study or intern abroad.

Wallace is one of nearly 1,000 undergraduate students from 386 colleges and universities across the U.S. to receive the award, which provides up to $5,000 toward the cost of studying abroad. He will study at Emlyon Business School in Saint-Étienne, France, and live with a host family this spring.

“I’ve actually studied French since the seventh grade, but taking it in school is not the same as living in the country and hearing it 24/7,” Wallace said. “If I’m going to work in diplomacy and international relations, French is one of the international languages of the world.”

Wallace is in the University's Diversity Scholars Program, which awards scholarships to high-achieving students who show significant financial need. He hopes to one day work with the State Department, the United Nations or some other organization where he can support sustainable development in Central or East Asia. He also has applied for a Critical Language Scholarship to study in Korea.  

Sheila Kelly, assistant director for the Hobson Wildenthal Honors College, accompanied Wallace and other students this fall to a Model UN competition in Seattle, where Wallace won an award for his first-time performance.

“He’s an impressive person when you meet him,” Kelly said. “He’s obviously very smart, but he’s also very personable. I think that enthusiasm shows wherever he goes.”

Since 2001, Gilman Scholarships have enabled more than 25,000 students of diverse backgrounds to engage in an educational experience abroad. Named for the late U.S. Rep. Benjamin Gilman, who served in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee, the program is open to U.S. citizen undergraduates who are receiving Pell Grant funding. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is supported by the Institute of International Education.

Wallace joins the growing number of Gilman recipients at UT Dallas including Ryan Pittman, a computer science senior in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and a Terry Scholar, who studied and had an internship in New Zealand in summer 2017. Megan Clark-Tchen, a global business junior, participated in an exchange program in Korea in spring 2017.

Pittman, a transfer student from North Lake Community College in Irving, Texas, who has autism spectrum disorder, said he had never traveled outside the U.S. by himself. The Gilman Scholarship enabled him to intern with a game company in Wellington, New Zealand, and taught him to be more self-sufficient.

“The most important thing I had learned while traveling is to never panic. There’s always a way out of a situation, and with a backup plan and technology you will do fine,” Pittman said. “The greatest resource you can have on a trip are kind and helpful people, which New Zealand has in abundance. They helped me the whole way.”

Ryan Pittman in front of mountains in New Zealand

The greatest resource you can have on a trip are kind and helpful people, which New Zealand has in abundance. They helped me the whole way.

Ryan Pittman,
computer science senior, Terry Scholar and Gilman Scholarship recipient

Pittman credits his experience with helping him to obtain an internship this spring with Brock Solutions in Irving. He hopes to become a software developer.

Blythe Torres, director of the Terry Scholars program at UT Dallas, said Pittman needed additional financial support from the Gilman Scholarship on top of funding provided by the Terry Foundation to cover the high cost of interning in New Zealand last summer. He was the first from the Terry Scholars program and the Hobson Wildenthal Honors College to receive a Gilman Scholarship.

“Ryan’s excellent candidacy for the scholarship included his desire to take part in cross-cultural experiences and his interest in educating others about the importance of incorporating international experiences into their undergraduate education,” Torres said. “We are proud of his accomplishments.”

Clark-Tchen, a first-generation Asian-American with a learning disability who transferred from a community college, studied in Korea in 2017. She hopes her study abroad program will help her define her career choices.

“I did not get much knowledge of the world outside of my home during my childhood. I relied on learning from the news articles we read in school. The articles and news contained information that created a colorful world in my head,” Clark-Tchen said in her application for the scholarship. “Studying abroad does not seem like an option for me. It is more of a necessity.”

Karen Stepherson, education abroad coordinator for the International Center, said scholarship programs such as the Gilman, are crucial to making study abroad accessible to more students.

“Megan embodies what the Gilman program is all about because she would help diversify study abroad and also be able to bring back what she’s learned and experienced to encourage more underrepresented populations of students to study abroad,” she said. 

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].