Anlan Cheney, a senior Communication major at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, has been accepted into the Gillman Scholarship program and will begin her semester-long study abroad adventure this February.

Known by her friends as ‘Annie’, she serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the college news source, the Eagle. Cheney isn’t interested in just speaking about changing today’s world. She’s ready to make it happen.

Annie shared this photo on her personal Instagram account, documenting her last day in America before she traveled to study abroad.
Annie shared this photo on her Instagram, documenting her last day before traveling. Follow her @anniecheney_

After lengthy applications and numerous steps, Cheney was accepted in to the School of International Training (SIT) and chose to study in Belgrade, Serbia for her last semester in college.

According to Cheney her friends and family often ask her the question, ‘Why Serbia?” Her answer may surprise you.

“There are so many reasons that culminate into one big thing, but here’s my most basic summary of “why,” Cheney said. “I have always been interested in Eastern Europe, particularly the often clashing ideologies, cultures, and religions of East and West civilization. Serbia, due to its fascinating geographic and historical roles as a part of the Balkan peninsula, is basically in the middle of this colossal exchange of ideas that has been ripping our world apart for the great part of the last millennium.”

During the fall semester of 2014, Cheney took an OKWU course entitled Contemporary World Events with Dr. Wimberly. At his suggestion, Cheney read a book by a journalist who was in Bosnia during the war in the 90s.

“The book was “My War Gone By, I Miss it So,” Cheney explained. “It really touched me. Coming from a relatively peaceful and racially, religiously, and culturally homogenous part of the USA’s Midwest, conflict is just so foreign to me and I wanted to understand what was the driving factor behind events leading to the fall of Yugoslavia.”

Editor-in-Chief Annie Cheney with student photographer Lauren Nash on set.
Editor-in-Chief Annie Cheney with student photographer Lauren Nash on Novus photo shoot set.

With all the excitement of experiencing an entirely new culture, Cheney wants to take everything she learns during her time in Serbia to foster a global discussion and challenge herself.

“Anlan’s decision to participate in the Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo Peace and Conflict Studies program through SIT coincides with her long-held passion for global human rights and human development,” Associate Professor of Communication and Humanities Dr. David Cochran said. “I have seen this passion run through Anlan’s work from my first meeting with her.”

Dr. Cochran has taught Cheney in a variety of classes, mentored her as Editor, and serves as her faculty advisor at OKWU.

“Anlan will undoubtedly make a positive impression as a representative of the United States,” he continued. “I have absolute confidence that she will adapt to new cultural environments quickly and effectively. Anlan’s family instilled in her a global vision from childhood.”

Throughout her time at Oklahoma Wesleyan, Cheney developed friendships with students from Latin America, Europe, Eastern Europe, and beyond, Dr. Cochran explained. Even in her last semester she launched a special student magazine called Novus in which the first article highlighted the diverse student population at OKWU.

To help finance her study abroad semester, Cheney applied and was accepted into the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

“I heard about the Gilman Scholarship program through SIT,” Cheney explained. “Most students need a little extra financial help to be able to participate in a study abroad experience. I’m not sure I would be able to go without it.”

Annie Cheney pictured with fellow OKWU Cross Country teammates.
Annie (third from left) with OKWU Cross Country teammates.

On top of the financial assistant aspect of the international program, Cheney looks forward to all the other perks of being accepted into the highly sought after network. She will also be blogging both personally and for the program.

“Gilman is so much more than a scholarship,” Cheney said. “I’m extremely excited about the networking opportunities and other resources that are available to me as a Gilman scholar.”

To gain acceptance Cheney had a lot of hoops to jump through but credits Oklahoma Wesleyan for being supportive along the way.

“As for the steps I took to apply, I couldn’t have do it without my academic and study abroad advisors, Dr. David Cochran and Heather Utzman,” Cheney said. “The school has been a tremendous help since last spring when I first proposed this study abroad experience to them. It’s been a collective effort of many offices – Dr. Herron sat down and listed to my proposal, ultimately approving it and appointing Heather Utzman as the new study abroad advisor. The registrar and financial aid offices have really stepped up and helped me with complicated paperwork and other important aspects of my experience and many of my professors have written recommendations for me. I’m just indebted to a lot of fantastic people here at OKWU for investing their time and giving me valuable advice and encouragement.”

Annie with her grandmother during a recent trip to Clearwater River.
Annie with her grandmother during a recent trip to Clearwater River.

On top of being the Editor-in-Chief of The Eagle, Cheney also ran Cross Country for three seasons and worked on campus in the University Relations department.

To follow Anlan’s study abroad adventure visit her personal blog at: