"I'm really lucky and really grateful for all the opportunities and experiences I've been able to have."
As an incoming freshman, Samantha Bolan '13 of Endwell, N.Y., wasn't sure where to find Turkey on a map. Now, the pages of her passport are nearly full, with stamps that identify a growing list of her international travel destinations — Turkey included. Costa Rica and most recently Ghana, in West Africa, are among the other places she's visited over the years. In a variety of ways, Binghamton University and the generosity of donors who provide student aid helped get her there.
Bolan's freshman roommate, who is Turkish, introduced her to Turkey, its culture, customs and traditions. They traveled there together in summer 2008. Bolan went back in 2011 to participate in a study-abroad program, with support from the Dr. Israel J. Rosefsky Language and Culture Scholarship.
Bolan's trip to Costa Rica also occurred in 2008, when she went there as part of a University and Habitat for Humanity project to build a library. She returned two years later with a group of students to teach English for a few weeks.
"I've always liked to help people. I really like different cultures," says Bolan, a senior who's majoring in anthropology and minoring in Africana studies and global studies. "I would love to be a travel photographer and writer. That's my dream."
Until then, she has worked on campus in the Financial Aid Services and Hinman College offices. She also chronicles her experiences abroad on a student blog run by the Admissions Office. She participates in the Nukporfe African Dance and Drumming Ensemble, as well as English Conversation Pairs.
"There's so much going on, so much diversity," Bolan says.
Although she continues to see the world and gain new perspectives through her travels abroad, the people closer to home, on campus, have made a strong impression, too.
"I love it because of the people. I met my best friends here," she says. "I'm really lucky and really grateful for all the opportunities and experiences I've been able to have."
Support also has come from numerous other scholarships, including the Binghamton University Forum Scholarship and the Robert Mancini '80 Scholarship for Community Service.
"I can look back and say I had a really great college experience. It went above and beyond my expectations," Bolan says.