Wright State international studies student receives State Department scholarship to study in Thailand

Ashley Carter, an international studies major at Wright State, received a Gilman-McCain Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study abroad in Thailand this summer.

Unforeseen circumstances are the catalyst for a nontraditional student fulfilling a longtime goal that will steer her closer to earning a college degree.

A married mother who works full-time as a hairstylist, Ashley Carter enrolled at Wright State University when the COVID-19 pandemic shut the hair industry down.

As an international studies major, Carter always wanted to study abroad and now her dream is becoming reality. Carter received the Gilman-McCain Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State, giving her a chance to study abroad in Thailand this summer.

“I always wanted to study somewhere in Asia since it is the primary focus of my major,” Carter said. “My advisor always encouraged me to enroll in any Asian-focused courses. I need three courses in my major to stay on track for graduation, and fortunately, I can take them in Thailand.”

The Gilman-McCain Scholarship provides awards to children and spousal dependents of active or activated United States military personnel to study or intern abroad. Carter’s husband of 13 years, Ryen, is in the Ohio National Guard and is one of the state’s top recruiters.

Michelle Streeter-Ferrari, director of Wright State’s University Center for International Education, said that while the scholarship is operated by the Department of State, students receive support from her office with the application, essay and placement process. The scholarship offers assistance for nontraditional students who are eligible for Pell grants or other federal financial aid.

Wright State University has been successful in the scholarship program, ranking first in the medium-sized college category.

“We serve so many nontraditional students here so this fits into what we are striving to do,” she said. “Our goal is to make study abroad accessible for any student because so many often think this is not a fit for them. There are scholarships and opportunities through which we can offer support to students, so their dreams come true even if they have financial or time constraints.”

Study abroad programs vary in length, so a nontraditional student like Carter can be accommodated under such circumstances.

Ashley Carter with her husband, Ryen, and their children, Talyn, left, and Lucas.

“Ashley is a working mom who was encouraged to attend Wright State to make herself more marketable. Her goal is to work in foreign or international military affairs at Wright-Patt Air Force Base,” Streeter-Ferrari said. “She is the first student to use the scholarship to study abroad, and we are excited about that.”

A hairstylist for 18 years, Carter said she has clients at the base who have given her career tips and encouragement. She said time management has been essential on her journey.

She will leave the United States on May 26, and her children, Talyn, 12, and Lucas, 11, would like to join her overseas this summer.

“We didn’t want to spring this on them, so it is frequently a topic of conversation,” she said. “My husband has some flexibility this summer, and so we can make it work with our kids. They may have an opportunity to join me in Thailand. We will have to see how it works out.”

To learn more about Wright State study abroad programs and scholarships visit studyabroad.wright.edu or email studyabroad@wright.edu.

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