From China to Italy to France—and to many other locations around the globe—many of UM’s best and brightest are studying abroad. Among this year's 12 Students of the Year, six of them have participated in UM international education programs, and three of them have been on one or more CGIS programs. We asked these three how they have connected their experiences abroad with the other things that matter to them as UM students. Here's what they said:

Nadine Jawad

Major: Undeclared, Honors
CGIS Programs: GCC China
University Study in the UK—University
of Oxford, St. Peter’s College

"Last summer I studied abroad in Beijing where we compared education dynamics in Beijing to the US. We visited extremely poor schools, many of which were on the outskirts of Beijing. The students there were, in many ways, similar to students in Detroit and parts of Chicago. They didn't have the resources to learn to their best potential. Though I want to be a surgeon, proper education and equitable education is important to me because without my privilege of an educational foundation, I know I wouldn't be aspiring to become a surgeon. Reading is a fundamental part of who I am, and when I read a book something in me changes. I want other students to experience this too. Much of my SOY article talked about Books for a Benefit, a nonprofit my friend and I started together. We love reading and we want other at-risk and low-income students to never feel that low accessibility is their reason for not getting to read or receiving a proper education. We can't change an entire education system, but if we can help a few students, to us that's enough."

Nadine kept in touch with us during her time in China with a fabulous study abroad blog. Read her about Reflections on Food and about her trip to the Great Mosque of Xian. Read more about Nadine on the Michigan Daily website.

Ahmad Hider

Major: Cellular and Molecular Biology
CGIS Program: Italian Studies in Rome

"My study abroad experience helped me realize that the world is bigger than you think. After studying abroad, I gained an appreciation for the different people and places around the world. Once you are able to witness this yourself your perspective will change. I brought this idea back with me to the University of Michigan and was more open to different ideas and ways of thinking. This was useful in my teaching as I encountered several students with so various backgrounds. This also encouraged me to expand my depth of knowledge by taking courses that truly interested me. And lastly, my study abroad experience taught me to experience and feel each moment. My first half hour in Italy felt surreal. You learn to adapt to a changing environment. Take advantage of every opportunity granted."

Ahmad participated in our I Am Study Abroad campaign. Read more about Ahmad on the Michigan Daily website.

Laura Meyer

Majors: Political Science, History of Art
CGIS Program: Arts in Paris 2014

"At UM I'm very grateful for not only the depth of my experiences but also the breadth. I primarily focus on violence prevention work, but I also study history of art and bring my passion for social issues into that work as well. Studying in Paris gave me the opportunity to travel on my own, learning more about international perspectives and about myself."

Laura has had several winning entries in the annual CGIS Photo Contest. Read more about Laura on the Michigan Daily website.

Meet the Other Students of the Year

Over 43,000 students attend UM. Only 12 are Students of the Year. Nominated by peers and mentors, this handful of students is chosen for a multitude of reasons. An ability to exceed in both sport and academics, a commitment to community service, a resilience in the face of personal struggle—these are just a few of the qualities that the students that populate these pages possess. But they, like every student, are much more than their written profiles. They are dreamers, friends, inspirations. They make mistakes. They are complex, dynamic humans. They are the leaders and best. Read more about all 12 Students of the Year on the Michigan Daily website.