Cairo Bound! Student Filmmaker Earns Scholarship for Study Abroad

Kent State University senior Carlton “CeeJay” Scott Jr. can barely contain his excitement when he talks about his upcoming study-abroad experience at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. 

The food, the people, the ancient pyramids – Scott’s goals are to create a short film while he is away, learn to speak Arabic and, hopefully, expand his cooking repertoire with new tastes and flavors of the Middle Eastern culture. 

“Mostly I am looking forward to just learning the new culture and learning about the civilization outside of my own backyard,” he said of what will be his first trip out of the country. “I got my passport specifically for this.” 

Scott, who studies digital media production and filmmaking in the College of Communication and Information, can afford his study abroad due to a $5,000 scholarship he recently received from the Fund for Education Abroad (FEA). The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization provides scholarships to students with financial need who are underrepresented among the U.S. study-abroad population, including students of color, community college students and first-generation college students. 

A Cleveland, Ohio, native and first-generation college student, Scott will depart on Jan. 26 for Cairo, where he will spend the 2023 Spring Semester taking classes at the American University in Cairo. He plans to return to Kent State in the fall, to finish his final semester before his anticipated graduation in December 2023. 

Scott said he selected Egypt for his study abroad for several reasons. As an African American, he was interested in traveling to the African continent. He is fascinated with the Middle East for its history and, as a Christian, for its biblical history. 

“I have a lot of questions about a lot of things from that region,” Scott said, explaining his desire to learn more. 

At the American University in Cairo, Scott will take filmmaking, acting and Arabic language classes. As a budding filmmaker, he is hoping for the opportunity to use the historic sites of Cairo, such as the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza, as settings for the film he intends to create during the semester. He is toying with the idea of an action film in the line of “Indiana Jones.”  

Kent State student Carlton "CeeJay" Scott Jr. who received a scholarship from the Fund for Education Abroad to study at the American University in Cairo for the 2023 Spring Semester, works on his filmmaking on the Kent Campus.

With a semester abroad ahead of him, Scott said he feels like life’s future possibilities “are endless.” 

He credits Molly Papay, M.Ed., MBA, senior education-abroad advisor in the Office of Global Education, for showing him the scholarship opportunities that were available and encouraging him to apply.  

Scott applied for every scholarship for which he qualified. “I just stayed diligent with my study abroad,” he said. 

Papay said Scott is the first Kent State student to be awarded an FEA scholarship, and her office is very proud. “CeeJay is such a great student,” she said.  

In her role as an advisor, Papay said helping students find ways to pay for exchange programs abroad is one of her responsibilities. “We love to see our students win, so this is really exciting to me.” 

When he graduates, Scott will be the first in his immediate family to earn a college degree. As the youngest of three, he said his mom is a bit nervous about him being away for four months in a foreign country. 

He understands that paying for travel abroad during college can seem like an unattainable dream, but he encourages others to look at him as an example of what can happen. 

“I encourage students from any different type of background to reach out and don’t give up hope on the potential to broaden your horizons with study abroad,” he said. “I feel like a lack of hope will prevent a lot of people from at least trying, at least aiming for it. Don’t let your surroundings or your background hinder how far you can go.” 

Papay echoed Scott’s sentiments that money for study abroad is available if students are willing to apply. “Someone has to get the award,” she said, “The money is there.” 

Papay said Scott’s award should cover the cost of his room and board for the semester, with enough left over to pay for his flight. Because he is on an exchange program, he will continue to pay his Kent State tuition for the semester and his financial aid remains intact. 

Papay also encourages students to apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship through the U.S. State Department, which is open only to students who are receiving federal Pell Grants as part of their financial aid. 

While Kent State has about 7,500 students who receive a Pell Grant, fewer than 10 typically apply for the Gilman Scholarship, Papay said, noting that she strongly encourages students who meet the qualifications to pursue the award. The Gilman scholarship is for $3,000 to $5,000 but can be as much as $8,000 for students who are studying a critical language, including Chinese or Arabic. 

Scott also applied for the Gilman Scholarship but won’t find out for a few more weeks whether he was successful. 

“These awards are attainable,” Papay said.  

Scott encouraged students to use the resources available from the Office of Global Education and to reach out to the faculty in their area of study or college for help. 

“If they don’t have the answer, they can point you in the direction of someone who might have the answer,” he said. “A lot of students are reluctant to reach out.” 

Papay said the education-abroad team is always happy to help students with applying for nationally competitive scholarships, including reviewing their essays or service project proposals. She suggests anyone interested in the study-abroad exchange program check out these resources: 

KSU Education Abroad Scholarship List: 

  • There are internal KSU scholarships listed here as well as external scholarship opportunities. 

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship: 

  • Students must receive a Pell Grant at the time of application or the time of studying abroad to be eligible. 

  • Award amount is $3,000 - $8,000. 

  • Two application cycles each year, one in March and one in October. 

Gilman-McCain Scholarship: 

  • Students must receive a Pell Grant and be the dependent of an active-duty service member. 

  • Award amount is $5,000. 

  • Two application cycles each year, one in March and one in October. 

Freeman-ASIA Scholarship: 

  • Students must study in an Asian country, but do not need to be studying a language. 

  • Award amount is $3,000 - $7,000. 

  • One application cycle per year, typically in February/March. 


Photo credit: Dakota Varney (@need_for_shutter_speed)

POSTED: Wednesday, December 7, 2022 03:28 PM
UPDATED: Monday, December 12, 2022 11:54 AM
Lisa Abraham