Harper College

Harper student wins prestigious Gilman study abroad scholarship

Teagan SchirmbeckWhen Teagan Schirmbeck begins designing a textile, she immerses herself in the intricacies that go into building a quality fabric.

The 19-year-old from Palatine considers the process an intersection of creativity, problem solving and engineering – and she fell in love with it as a fashion studies student at Harper College, where she’s specializing in textile and apparel construction.

Her next step? Hone her vast skills at one of the United Kingdom’s finest institutions for her field. In the spring, Schirmbeck will head to Galashiels, Scotland, to study abroad at Heriot-Watt University’s School of Textiles and Design, considered an international center of education, innovation and research in the industry.

Helping her get there is the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Schirmbeck is among undergraduate students from 359 colleges and universities across the U.S. to receive the Gilman Scholarship. The program offers grants for students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies and internships abroad. The international exchange is intended to better prepare U.S. students to thrive in the global economy and interdependent world.

“I’ve built a wonderful foundation of skills at Harper and it’s just so exciting to continue my studies at such a beautiful place that’s known for being a leader in the industry,” said Schirmbeck, who started taking classes at Harper at 16 years old.

As the youngest of four and the daughter of a single parent, Schirmbeck said the $3,000 scholarship will help ease the burden for her family, who are a great support system. She has an affinity for designing children’s wear and sees herself possibly teaching one day.

She’s also grateful to her former English professor Richard Johnson, who also serves as director of the Office of International Education. He said Harper has a strong track record of winning the scholarship, but students have typically been in more mainstream disciplines such as liberal arts and social sciences.

“It is to Teagan’s great credit that she wrote a strong application and won a substantial financial award,” Johnson said. “Any time a student studies abroad, they vastly increase their marketability after graduation. For Teagan, this experience will offer her all the traditional benefits of a study abroad program, such as increasing her intercultural awareness and communication skills. But given that her chosen field is under-represented in study abroad opportunities, this program will offer Teagan even greater advantage in transferring and in seeking employment post-graduation.”

To learn more about the Gilman Scholarship, visit iie.org/gilman.

Media contact: Kim Pohl, Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159

Last Updated: 3/14/24