Terell Wilson spent the Spring 2014 semester in Florence, Italy, with the CCI Florence program, and he was profoundly affected by the experience, writing:

“At times I am at a loss for words, and it all feels surreal until I bump my head on the doorframe entering my bedroom. This semester has already changed my outlook on life. From the people to the food and different pace of life, it's just awesome.  All of the staff are caring and so helpful. My professors are very interesting, intelligent, provoking us to think differently. [At first,] I felt a bit nervous but I regained my confidence soon. The roller coaster of emotions we were warned about was very true. I am currently swinging out of the homesick phase. I try to encourage some of the others to have patience and stay focused. I guess this is all practice for me.”

Practice because Terell intended to become a counselor for at-risk youth in America’s inner cities. This was his plan prior to study abroad, but his time in Florence brought it more into focus. Midway through his stay, he posed this question on a CNN iReport:

“What can we do to encourage more inner-city youth to participate in study abroad programs?”

He wrote further about his experience and his plan:

“I decided to study abroad in hopes of learning more about the world, different cultures and myself. Being in a foreign country is a challenge that builds and enhances one's character. Learning a new language and the customs of your new home are very beneficial to your growth. The ability to meet and make new friends from all over the world is priceless. Last week I had the task of presenting American holidays and cuisine to Italian middle school students. This was my best experience yet. I feel troubled by the 1 percent of American students that participated in a study abroad program last year. I would love to contribute to raising the number of future students abroad. Studying abroad has the ability to positively change one's life. This semester has been the best time of my life.

“I feel that I can reach a large number of young adults that are living in the inner city and inform them of my semester abroad. I believe that since I was raised in the same environment as they are and have made the appropriate changes to better my situation that I can be a sign of hope that the location in which they reside should not deter them from being successful. Studying abroad is a great investment.”

Five months after he returned from Florence, and while still a student at Kent State, Terell Wilson died suddenly on Oct. 3, 2014, from an undiagnosed heart condition. He died before he could dive into the mission he set for himself, but not before having an enormous impact on all those who knew him. He was described as a gentle giant with a passion for his family and a love of learning. He had a sweet smile and an infectious laugh, and he was filled with generosity of spirit, kindness, and gratitude.

The Terell Wilson Memorial Scholarship was created to give Terell’s mission the time he did not have, and is designated for the students he hoped to reach. It is the hope that students who study abroad with the support of this scholarship will honor Terell’s memory by finding their own way to further his mission and doing their part to make the world a better place.


To qualify for this scholarship, you must be a bachelor’s degree seeking student in the College of Communication and Information, pursuing any CCI major. You must also be participating in a KSU-sponsored semester-long study abroad program, and demonstrate financial need according to the FAFSA. A GPA of 2.5 or better is also required to be considered for the scholarship.

Preference will be given to the kind of students Terell most hoped to reach, as exemplified by the following criteria:

  • First-generation college student;
  • African-American student;
  • Non-traditional student;
  • Participation in the Kent State Florence semester;
  • Current or former student at the Kent State Stark Campus.