Meet the Scholars

Meet the Scholars

THE LIFE-CHANGING IMPACT OF SCHOLARSHIPS

ACS has worked with British American Business Council affiliates and other US-based partners for over 20 years to identify and engage highly deserving young people, who would benefit from fully funded scholarships to travel to ACS in the UK for a two-week residential summer study program called the British Studies Summer Programme (BSSP).

BSSP scholarship recipients are selected as they are extremely hard-working, earning top grades at their public high schools and taking challenging courses in both AP and IB. Our BSSP alumni have progressed from the program to graduate from top-tier universities including Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Penn, Georgetown and NYU. Some have even returned to the UK to earn both Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of London including Goldsmiths and have gone onto professionally rewarding careers in law, medicine and STEAM.

Many of our BSSP alumni have said that the scholarship brought about big changes in their lives, enabling them to pursue their dreams in higher education, as the experience helped them gain a sense of their own talents. Most cite the scholarship as a ‘turning point’ in their lives. Read Dieungoc's story here

By allowing more students to benefit from the wonderful opportunities offered by the ACS schools, a scholarship to the British Studies Summer Program helps change lives. Read Casey's story here

ACS International Schools in America raises funds from its alumni and friends community across the USA to support more young people through scholarships.

British Studies Summer Programme
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British Studies Summer Programme

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BRENDA SERPAS

I first learned about the British Studies Summer Program (BSSP) through my high school college counselor. The prospect of such an opportunity gave me the motivation to speed through my personal statement, which included professing my endless admiration for Singer-songwriter Chris Martin. When I got the news of my acceptance, I was so ecstatic my fingers were trembling as I dialled my counselor to give her the news. At the time, I didn't fully grasp what sort of impact a summer in London would have on my teenage perspective. It ended up being more wonderful than I could've ever imagined.

Some of my fondest memories of the program was having breakfast with everyone before our excursions. Everyone was energised and eager to start the day, which gave way to great conversations at the breakfast table. It was one of the few times where learned about each other as a group. We would talk about our hometowns, our cultural backgrounds or any quirky interest that we wanted to share. That quality time served as a great foundation to build friendships over the course of the program. Some of those friends Elvira Marquez, and Leah Ogawa I keep in touch with to this day!  There's a picture (bottom centre) of the three of us waiting to watch 'The Importance of Being Earnest' at Regent's Park. 

The BSSP was the first time I traveled abroad with the deliberate purpose of cultural study. After that, I was hooked on the feeling of traveling and learning about different cultures. Because of this program, when it came time to apply for colleges, I only considered places far from home for the sake of new experiences and exposure. I attended Harvard University to study Romance Languages and Literatures. I am currently living in LA, working in the film industry. At the moment I am working for a film director and aspire to become one myself.

JACKIE KHONG

JACKIE KHONG

Since my journey to London as a BSSP scholarship recipient, I discovered a passion for studying different cultures. This passion led me to study abroad in Costa Rica and Japan, and to obtain a degree in International Studies of Commerce (minor in Japanese). I observed how language barriers can prevent people from receiving help from authorities. This was a factor that led me to attend law school. I developed a desire to assist low-income individuals who need access to our legal system, but struggle with language barriers. As of 2018, I recently graduated from law school, and continue to work with the Family Violence Law Center to help individuals from various cultural backgrounds in obtaining a restraining order against domestic violence abusers. 

Since my journey to London as a BSSP scholarship recipient, I discovered a passion for studying different cultures. This passion led me to study abroad in Costa Rica and Japan, and to obtain a degree in International Studies of Commerce (minor in Japanese). I observed how language barriers can prevent people from receiving help from authorities.

JACKIE KHONG 

REBECCA ZAMORA, SUMMER SCHOLAR

REBECCA ZAMORA

Thanks to the generosity of donors, I was awarded a BSSP Scholarship, in addition to intensifying my love for history gave me the opportunity to experience the European culture in a way I do not think any other 17-year-olds from a low-income household like me would.

I am beyond grateful for this amazing one-in-a-lifetime opportunity and, as I mentioned to my parents and friends a life changing experience, I had been deeply interested in history before this summer program but never had I considered to be a passion for me- something I would like to study more in depth in the future.

ARMONI GADDY

ARMONI GADDY

While opportunity can be found anywhere, fully paid study-abroad scholarships don’t just drop in the laps of young people, especially those in some of America’s urban centers. At least that’s what Cristo Rey Jesuit High School’s (CRJHS) Armoni Gaddy once thought, then almost overnight her perception changed. 

Armoni explains why, “I applied for the BSSP scholarship because it was rare for a Baltimore City student like me to be afforded such an opportunity and oddly enough at first look; I thought that it was a hypothetical topic for a scholarship essay until I read further and I got excited. I had always longed to visit London and see what the culture was like there.”  And so she did.

In June-July 2017, Armoni was among the first students from CRJHS to ever attend BSSP. She embraced the opportunity to learn from expert ACS teachers, literally taking her to new heights.  Armoni recalls how, “I climbed all the way to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral which I was scared at first! There were so many winding steps! Yet, I knew that it was a once in a lifetime experience and I kept going!” 

The memories of sites seen and friendships made still stick with Armoni, but nearly two weeks in the UK has given her much more, including a newfound sense of perspective and appetite to travel more.  “I have learned that I am able to travel on my own without being too worried and can find my way around. I was able to adapt to my surroundings and I realized such a huge difference in American/ British interactions.

LINDA K VALADEZ

LINDA K VALADEZ

In 2012 I was awarded a BSSP scholarship and I have been in debt to ACS ever since. I come from a small Texan town called Houston, you might have heard of it; Houston was my world before I got the chance to travel--rarely getting the opportunity to travel and leave the small bubble that North Houston can be. Never in my young adult life could I have ever dreamed of going to England, but ACS made it happen for this unlikely traveller. Coming from a blue collar family, being able to leave the borders of beltway 8 was monumental to me. The cultural and academic exposure I gained through the BSSP scholarship is unparalleled to any other experience I've had since. I am currently embarking my Senior year at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, 1,547 miles away from home. My horizons have only further expanded after my experience in England. Thank you ACS for all your support!

NATHAN TUTOP, SUMMER SCHOLAR

NATHAN TUTOP

I now know that I am well enough capable to be away from home, especially as far as across the Atlantic. This scholarship has shown me that there is so much more to life than just the confines of my state, or even country, and that opportunity is available even in places that are foreign and unknown. All it takes is “a leap of faith” to step outside our comfort zones.

This scholarship has shown me that there is so much more to life than just the confines of my state, or even country... All it takes is a leap of faith to step outside our comfort zones.

NATHAN TUTOP 

ERIN FRIEDERICHS

ERIN FRIEDERICHS

A rising senior in early 2014, studying at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools with nearly 148,000-students. Erin Friederichs might have described herself as an anxious person and somewhat risk-averse. Still, when she learned from her high school guidance counsellor that there's an all-expenses-paid scholarship. That was available for summer study-travel in England, Erin found the courage to go for it.

Erin succeeded then, discovering more about herself as well as winning a study-abroad scholarship. She explains, "I also had newfound confidence in myself and learned to take more risks." On the strength of her essay about JK Rowling, the British author of the Harry Potter series, and her ability to articulate to the Committee her strong desire to visit the UK for the first time, Erin Friederichs was bound for London and the ACS British Studies Summer Program (BSSP). It changed her life for the better, having a lasting impact and influencing her future academic and career pathways.

For now over 20 years welcoming highly deserving and academically exceptional high-school students from across America, BSSP is led by expert ACS teachers and senior administrators, each year allowing around 20 summer scholars to live briefly in an impressive dormitory on the 128-acre campus of a world-class ACS International school. The nearly two-week course introduces these first-time visitors to all things great about Britain "One major highlight for me was going to the Globe theatre and seeing a production of Julius Caesar. This was amazing for me because I have always had a passion for English literature, but especially for Shakespeare."

Group dynamics are a big part of BSSP, with small groups of high-achieving young people bonding in ways that never fail to impress adult observers. "I would have to say, though, that the biggest highlight for me was the bonds I made. After two weeks of incredible experiences and seeing everything with new eyes alongside twenty other people seeing it the exact same way, we forged a community; even a family of sorts."

Erin found the British program to be personal and profound. She shares, "Whilst participating in BSSP; I was able to visit the Globe Theatre. I have always loved literature and Shakespeare, but something about being there in person made me especially fascinated in the subject. Also, when we visited Westminster Abbey, I was able to see where many of my favorite authors and poets are buried. These experiences continued my interest in British Literature, and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I ultimately pursued English as my major."

AKEEM LYNE, SUMMER SCHOLAR

AKEEM LYNE

Sometimes the unthinkable happens. That was the case for British Studies 2016 Scholar Akeem Lyne from Baltimore, Maryland. Lyne joined his classmate and 18 other high-achieving teens for an all-expenses-paid experience residing on the campus of the ACS International School. 

Akeem Lyne explains how that dream became reality, “I applied for the BSSP scholarship because it was an opportunity presented to me that I never thought I would have. I was selected by first answering a prompt question in essay format. Then there was an interview process with faculty and staff members at my high school. Once everything was taken in to consideration, two lucky students were chosen. When I was notified, I couldn’t believe it! I was speechless and I thought that I was dreaming. I never thought the day would come where I would be going to England at the age of 17.”

No matter one’s political leaning, it has to be said that history was made during 2016 with the Brexit vote coinciding with the ACS British Studies Summer Program (BSSP).  Akeem definitely took note, but like most 17-year-old boys, he had other interests. Because the nearly two week BSSP itinerary is often developed responding to students’ pre-course input, Akeem was able to realize another dream. He explains, “Another highlight was when the group visited Stamford Bridge, the stadium of the great English club, Chelsea. I am a huge soccer fan, so this was a dream come true to get a private tour of the stadium.”

Beyond learning to appreciate both contemporary and time honored British culture, Akeem and his fellow BSSP Scholars learned something about themselves.  Akeem describes it so, “This experience has made me want to be a citizen of the world. It has made me want to travel more and experience difference people and cultures. I also learned that Great Britain is a great place with great people. Another very important thing I learned is that the people in Great Britain are very proud to be British.”

Like the hundreds of former BSSP Scholars, Akeem’s time in the UK changed his perspective and likely his future.  Akeem currently attends Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia where he studies Biology. When looking back to his days based on the ACS Cobham campus and what may come next, Akeem says, “Because of BSSP, I was able to travel to Europe for the first time in my life. I have always wanted to visit Europe one day. Now since going to London, I want to explore the other great places in Europe. I am now a sophomore in college and I plan on studying abroad my junior year in Madrid, Spain.”

This experience has made me want to be a citizen of the world. It has made me want to travel more and experience difference people and cultures.

AKEEM LYNE