McGuire travels to Madagascar with Gilman scholarship

Talitha McGuire ’19 has earned a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State, and she’s headed to Madagascar for the fall semester.

Talitha McGuire '19
Talitha McGuire

She will use her $3,000 award to study conservation and natural resource management at the School for International Training. She has big goals for her time on the island, which is located in the Indian Ocean.

“I hope to take away a deeper understanding of what natural resource management and conservation look like in rural communities where individuals and the ecosystems around them are inextricably intertwined,” McGuire said.

McGuire worked with Writing Studio Director and Director of Fellowships and Scholarships Laura Farmer to communicate her desires for studying abroad through her application essays.

“Laura and I were discussing scholarships that could assist me in studying abroad, and the Gilman was one that really spoke to me because it emphasizes how crucial it is for U.S. students to get out there in the world and learn from other cultures,” McGuire said.

McGuire is looking forward to the independent research project that will fill her time during the last month of the program. She plans to study the cultural significance of the endangered fossa, which is a relative of the mongoose and unique to the forests of Madagascar.

“I’ve wanted to go to Madagascar for as long as I can remember; it’s a place where my passions collide in a spectacular way,” McGuire said. “It’s one of the leading places in the world where conservation has begun to include local communities in decision making. This trip is pretty much my dream come true, and I cannot thank everyone at Cornell who has supported me, especially Laura Farmer and my advisor Professor Steven Sacks.”

According to the Benjamin A. Gilman website, the scholarship program is open to U.S. citizen undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study and intern abroad programs worldwide.