CSUSM Student Receives Prestigious Clinton Scholarship


One of only 10 undergraduates selected nationwide, CSUSM political science senior Holly Gerrity was recently awarded the prestigious William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship to study at the American University in Dubai for the spring 2011 semester. A full scholarship covering tuition and all accommodation expenses, Gerrity will be studying Middle Eastern politics, history, and Islamic art and architecture, as well as taking an introductory language course in Arabic during her four months abroad.

“This scholarship will transcend the classroom experience for me and build upon the framework of what I’ve already learned while at CSUSM,” explained Gerrity. “I’ll be able to put my studies into practice. I will no longer be sitting in a classroom theoretically discussing foreign politics. Instead, I’ll be experiencing political and cultural diversity first-hand.”

An active student on campus, Gerrity has served in student government, held various officer positions in student organizations including president of the Political Science Club, and participated in a Model United Nations conference in San Francisco with the CSUSM Model U.N. chapter. She is also a member of two honor societies – Pi Sigma Alpha and the Golden Key International Honor Society. Last spring, she interned for California Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter through the Sacramento Semester program, devoting 40-plus hours a week to her internship while balancing a full academic course load.

“I do not believe I have ever encountered a more energetic and dedicated student,” said Dr. Elizabeth Matthews, professor of political science. “Holly exudes enthusiasm for learning and engagement in campus and extracurricular activities.”

Gerrity’s curiosity in the Middle East piqued after taking an upper division political science course, titled Global Governance, which critically examines international politics in an ever-changing post-Cold War era. After completing additional courses in global studies and political science, her interest was firmly cemented in Middle Eastern culture, history, and diplomacy. When Gerrity learned about the William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship, she knew it was a perfect fit.

Established by former President Clinton through his foundation, the William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship at the American University in Dubai aims to bridge the gap of cultural understanding between the U.S. and the Arab world. Awarded to 10 undergraduates each semester, the scholarship offers American students the opportunity to expand their educational and cultural horizons by studying in Dubai, the second largest and most populous of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.

“She cares immensely about events happening across the globe and possesses great empathy and compassion for the plight of peoples in other parts of the world,” Dr. Matthews added. “She has worked exceptionally hard here at CSUSM and deserves this recognition and opportunity.”

A unique perk of the scholarship, Gerrity will also have the opportunity to personally meet former President Clinton while in Dubai toward the end of her study abroad; an experience which Gerrity imagines will be surreal and exciting.

After graduating in spring, she plans to attend graduate school, earn her Ph.D. and become a collegiate professor. In her future academic, professional, and even personal endeavors, Gerrity intends to use her experience in Dubai to promote cultural understanding and demystify stereotypical representations of the Middle East.

“This experience is simply invaluable and it will propel me in all that I do,” Gerrity said. “As a graduate student, and eventually as a professor, I hope to be able to share my acquired knowledge with others. I hope to inspire students to study abroad, to help them think critically, and to debunk any preconceived notions they may hold regarding the Middle East.”

“This scholarship will transcend the classroom experience for me and build upon the framework of what I’ve already learned while at CSUSM,” explained Gerrity. “I’ll be able to put my studies into practice. I will no longer be sitting in a classroom theoretically discussing foreign politics. Instead, I’ll be experiencing political and cultural diversity first-hand.”