Meet Kendall Brant, History Student and Recipient of a Gilman International Scholarship
Great Bay Community College history major Kendall Brant has received a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and is spending this semester studying in Taiwan. The scholarship program is administered by the U.S. Department of State and enables students to study or intern abroad to improve language skills and learn about diverse cultures.
Kendall is taking courses in history and political science in both English and Chinese languages at National Taiwan University, a globally renowned research institute in Taipei.
Born in the United States and raised during elementary and part of his middle-school years in China, Kendall is considering a career in the Foreign Service. He chose Taiwan because of its democracy, position of global influence, and its status as a point of conflict in the sharpening political, economic, and military rivalry between the United States and China in a deglobalizing world.
“America and China have opposing opinions and identities of Taiwan, and I want to see what Taiwan is really like,” said Kendall, of Durham, N.H., who will be in Taipei at least through the spring semester and longer if he lands an internship or other opportunities. “If I work in the Foreign Service, Taiwan is a good option. The U.S. government is looking for people who can speak the language and who understand the culture. This is an opportunity to see it and experience it for myself from my unique perspective.”
Kendall credits Great Bay for helping him through what he described as a “transformative stage” when the pandemic ended an acting career in China and Great Bay enabled him to apply to four-year universities.
After graduating from high school in 2017, he moved to China, and without experience or contacts, became an actor in popular reality shows, dramas, and sports broadcasts that drew millions of views. He left China late in 2019 at the outbreak of the pandemic, before the country locked down, and came home to New Hampshire with an uncertain future.
An independent sort, he supported himself. “I tried out a few different jobs. I taught Chinese for a year. I felt I should go back to school, but I didn’t know where to start. Then I heard about Great Bay,” he said. “Great Bay offered me a new academic opportunity to start everything again. Teachers like Dr. Fansler offered me so much help and encouragement, and now here I am in Taiwan.”
Kendall arrived in Taiwan in February with favorable first impressions. “The Taiwanese are very good English speakers. If you are an American, you do not have to worry about getting around or ordering food. Taiwan is very clean and peaceful, and very safe.”
The weather is good, too. “I’ve been going to the beach, swimming, and enjoying volcanic baths.”
Named after a late U.S. Congressman, the Gilman scholarship program opens the world of foreign study to students who might otherwise not go abroad because of financial constraints.
The program encourages students to study in an array of countries and regions and learn languages deemed important to national security. Among its goals is developing future leaders who can build relationships and mutual understanding, while representing U.S. culture and values.
Kendall is among a small group of Gilman Scholarship recipients from two-year institutions. Of the 3,100-plus scholarships administered, 66 went to students from two-year schools.
“I am grateful for all the opportunities that Great Bay has given me,” he said.