URI junior awarded prestigious fellowship to study in Berlin

Student chosen from 75 national applicants

KINGSTON, R.I.- August 7, 2018- A University of Rhode Island junior studying mechanical engineering was one of 14 students nationwide to be awarded a fellowship from Cultural Vistas, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C.

JohnRobert Gimler, a student in URI’s International Engineering Program, who is also earning a bachelor’s degree in German, was chosen from a national pool of 75 candidates to participate in a fully funded educational exchange program that has sent him to Berlin for eight weeks.

Gimler described the application process as stressful and thrilling. Each morning he woke up early to practice his German to ace the interview. The thrill, though was in the waiting.

The goal of the fellowship is to increase diversity among U.S. undergraduates with international experience. Strong preference is given to applicants who come from backgrounds underrepresented in international exchange such as veterans, first-generation college students, STEM majors, Pell Grant recipients and members of minority communities.

Gimler’s unique approach to nonviolent conflict resolution is what he feels set him apart from other applicants and led to his acceptance into the 2018 fellowship program.

“Knowing that I had the chance to intern in another country while putting my knowledge of the German language to the test gave me goosebumps,” explained the Raynham, Mass. resident. “Now 3,900 miles from home, I am using my weekends to absorb all of the tourist attractions the city has to offer but during the week, I will be working at Atelier Automotive, restoring and selling antique French and Swedish cars.”

The Cultural Vistas Fellowship focuses on cultural immersion and professional experience. Students are assigned to cohorts and spend eight weeks in either Argentina, Berlin, or Hong Kong. While abroad, the students gain work experience through internships at organizations related to their academic majors or career goals. These diverse internship placements range from think tanks to community nonprofits to startups.

Upon returning to the United States, Cultural Vistas fellows give back to their local communities through a “Fellows in Service” project. Using what they’ve learned from their time abroad, the Fellows come up with their own initiative that will help promote international understanding and exchange at the local level. Gimler says his service project will likely benefit organizations whose research focuses on cancer or moyamoya, a rare progressive cerebrovascular disorder.

“It is my hope that this fellowship can serve as the first bit of work experience in my field of study as well as the beginning of a prosperous career in automotive engineering while giving me a better understanding of the German language,” explained Gimler. “I am looking for positive experiences that I can share with others who will hopefully be influenced to embark on trips to other countries through Cultural Vistas or even on their own.”

Learn more about Cultural Vistas.

Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this press release.