Meyer Gulledge

Meyer Gulledge to travel to Berlin in summer 2021 for study-abroad project.

Mike Mercier | UAH

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? If you need a translation, Meyer Gulledge, a Chemical Engineering senior at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of The University of Alabama System, would certainly be able to help. Gulledge has been announced as the winner of a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for 2020, and he has chosen to use this grant to study German abroad through the auspices of the language organization Institut für Internationale Kommunikation (IIK).

The Gilman Scholarship is a grant program administered by the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It 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 programs worldwide. These grants enable students to select study-abroad programs where they can sharpen their skills and meet fellow scholars, as well as network overseas in their respective fields.

Gulledge was mentored through the rigorous application process by Dr. David S. Johnson, Associate Professor of Global Studies and German, as well as Dr. Yu Lei, an Associate Professor in the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department.

“A chemical engineering student came to one of our chapter meetings, and he brought up the Gilman and told us to apply,” he says. “Dr. Lei was one of the people who reviews for the Gilman. He did not review for mine, but he was able to help with the process. About this time Dr. Johnson was also saying this was an option, so I did it!”

Gulledge credits his mentors with providing support that was invaluable to obtaining the honor.

“I had Dr. Johnson for German 1 and 2, and I could ask him questions outside of class. He told me how the Gilman could be used to study German abroad. I was worried about the essay part, because I knew people would be writing really good ones, but I guess I did all right. Dr. Johnson and Dr. Lei working in tandem to help me was a godsend. In the future I hope to do the same thing for other students myself.”

The Gilman program enables scholars of limited financial means to choose study projects abroad that hone skills critical to national security and economic competitiveness.

“A lot of the major chemical companies in the world are German, like BASF,” Gulledge explains. “So I figured that [Germany] was probably the best choice for me. After participating in the program, people become Gilman ‘alumni.’ That means you get to do follow-on service to promote the Gilman Study Abroad Project.”

Gulledge joins a select group of six Gilman Scholars produced at UAH, dating back to 2013. He was originally slated to begin his internship this summer, but, due to the pandemic, his trip has been rescheduled for summer 2021. He plans to put the extra time in the interim to good use.

“The virus delaying my trip was saddening at first, but I’m happy that I have the chance to improve my German significantly between now and then, so that I can get more out of the experience. I will be taking more classes in chemical engineering, as well.”

Gulledge expects the experience to be both demanding and rewarding.

“It’s an intensive two-month course, something like five hours a day. But after that, I’ll be in Berlin. I’ll get out of class, and I’ll be in Germany!”

While his interest in languages is fairly recent, Gulledge has exhibited a natural bent for the sciences for as long as he can remember.

“My family instilled a love for science in me,” he says. “I love all things STEM! Throughout high school I was trying to figure out what I would do. I really liked chemistry, and now I know Chemical Engineering is the best choice I ever made.”

Always a self-starter, and eager to begin his studies, Gulledge took advantage of a UAH summer incentive program that enabled him to leap straight into his academic career immediately on graduating high school.

“I moved up to Huntsville seven days after graduation and started taking courses,” he says. “And that, among other things, has given me the time to fit in these German courses.”

Like so many of his fellow students, at UAH he saw the opportunity to readily expand his horizons.

“My interests have always been really broad, and I wanted to do something that I thought would be a good balance,” Gulledge says. "I wanted to learn a language to prove to myself that I could do it. I was tired of being monolingual! I wanted to do something outside my comfort zone.”

Gulledge has also spent time working on campus with the Chemistry Department, preparing solutions and acting as a Teaching Assistant to an intro chemistry class. Originally from Montgomery, he’s spent the last several months back in his home town for safety’s sake. Like the entire UAH community, he’s excited to return to campus for the fall semester.

“I’m coming back in August!” he says. “I plan to pursue a certificate in Foreign Language and Global Engagement in German. It’s possible for me to delay my graduation until the end of next summer and fulfill the requirements for my certificate.”

Gulledge is down to earth when asked about future goals once he has completed his studies, but he retains his wistful curiosity and wanderlust.

“Goal number one is to get a job!” he says. “I want a challenge, and I think I want to work for a company that might send me for an MBA. I really want to get into industry, figure out how much I like working in that field. Which is where the German could come into use, working for a multinational corporation. I might go on to learn other languages. The ultimate goal is to find a job that lets me travel and see more of the world!”