A five-month study abroad experience in France was an immediate plus for the resume of Millsaps College student Bryan Dupree.
Returning to this country last May, the Gilman Scholarship recipient landed a summer job as a bilingual tour guide at the antebellum Laura Plantation in Vacherie, La. "I gave anywhere between one and three French tours daily to Francophones from France, Belgium, Quebec, and even the Caribbean and Africa," he said. "It was the best summer job I've ever had, and without my experience abroad, I would not have had the courage to take on that job."
Dupree's study in France was made possible by a grant from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program that helps U.S. citizen undergraduates of limited financial means pursue academic studies abroad. The program seeks to support students who have traditionally been under-represented in study abroad, including students with high financial need, community college students, students in under-represented fields such as the sciences and engineering, students with diverse ethnic backgrounds, and students with disabilities. Award recipients are chosen through a competitive selection process and must use the award to defray eligible study abroad costs that include program tuition, room and board, books, local transportation, insurance and international airfare.
"Gilman scholarships are designed to allow our best and brightest students, like Bryan, to study abroad despite financial need," said Dr. Mike Galaty, professor of anthropology and chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. He also is Dupree's Gilman advisor.
"I would encourage all Millsaps students who hope to go overseas and are worried about money to take a look. The Gilman budget actually increased this year. They hope to give out over 3,000 scholarships."
Dupree studied French at the Rennes International Center of French Studies for Foreign Students in Rennes, Bretagne, which is about two hours west of Paris by train. He has studied French since age six.
"I feel like it was just the natural progression of things to go to France, but I didn't feel like a summer would really do 13 years of preparation justice," he said. "All of my classes were in French, but they focused more on the culture and political atmosphere of France and Europe as a whole."
Dr. Claudine Chadeyras, assistant professor of French at Millsaps, said Dupree flourished at the University of Rennes last spring while cultivating his interest in contemporary France. "Bryan is the first French major completing a minor in African Studies. His interest in non-standard cultural expressions such as 'verlan' (a kind of speech play by which French sub-groups communicate by inverting syllables) and the SMS/texting language in French have prompted refreshing discussions in and out of class. Our French program has definitely been shaped by Bryan Duprée, who made us venture into Francophone literatures. We admire Bryan's trail-blazing spirit as he pursues an international law degree that will allow him to practice law both in the U.S. and in France," she said.
Tanya A. Newkirk, associate director of international education at Millsaps, said Dupree is an excellent, well-rounded student, double-majoring in French and political science.
Newkirk said Dupree chose for his semester in France a program provided by the Council on International Educational Exchange. "It's one of the top study abroad providers Millsaps uses, and the College is affiliated as an academic consortium member. This is because we believe strongly that their programs are a perfect fit for Millsaps students - both academically rigorous and culturally and linguistically immersive. CIEE, in turn, sees the potential in our students: It awarded Bryan a CIEE International Study Programs Scholarship, given to students who demonstrate both academic excellence and financial need, for his semester in Rennes."
Dupree, a Plaquemine, La., resident who is a senior, plans to attend law school after he graduates in May. He was co-president of Pi Delta Phi French honorary and has been involved with Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Honorary, theatre productions, the French Club, the Political Science Club, and the Presidential Ambassadors. He was chosen to be a Ford Fellow.
Dr. Iren Omo-Bare, associate professor of political science at Millsaps, said Dupree is a studious researcher and writer who produces superior work. "He communicates his ideas very clearly, orally and in writing, and is a very perceptive reader. What is most impressive is his fine intellect that enables him to think clearly and to adopt a sound critical perspective on a chosen topic. During class discussions, he stands out for the freshness of his insights, his ease in carrying an argument to its logical conclusion, and his willingness to consider the viewpoints of others in his assessment of a problem."