Oak Park resident receives nationally prestigious scholarship to South Africa

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By Community Editor

Oak Park resident Leslie Thomas has been awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship to support a two-month internship in South Africa this summer.  He is the son of Lekesha Jordan, Oak Park, and Leslie Thomas Sr., Chicago.

 Thomas will be a digital marketing intern at Biltong Board, a gourmet food processing and distribution company in Cape Town. He just completed his junior year at Ball State University (Muncie, Ind.), where he has a major in communication studies and a minor in organizational communication.

"Receiving this scholarship will give me an opportunity to demonstrate my intercultural competence in a globalized environment," said Thomas. 

 "As someone who is involved in my campus's multicultural community and who is learning about what it means to be interculturally competent, going on this trip will allow me to put some of these key concepts into action."

Upon their return to the U.S., all Gilman Scholarship recipients are required to carry out a follow-up project that helps promote international understanding. For his project, Thomas will create and conduct a role-playing game for several campus organizations, asking fellow students to respond to cultural and ethical dilemmas they might encounter in South Africa.


The federally-funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program provides up to $5,000 to U.S. undergraduate students pursuing academic studies abroad, in order to better prepare them to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.  

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