Press Release

December 27, 2023 | By Cole Hatcher

Southern Africa Studies

Ohio Wesleyan Student Earns Gilman Scholarship to Explore Racial, Environmental Justice


Aniya "A.J." Johnson

Ohio Wesleyan University junior Aniya "A.J." Johnson has been awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to travel to South Africa and Namibia this spring to study racial and environmental justice.

A Politics and Government major from Roanoke, Virginia, Johnson earned the competitive scholarship from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

She will spend a semester in Southern Africa participating in the program "Decolonizing the Mind: Racial and Environmental Justice" in partnership with Arcadia Abroad and the Center for Global Education and Experience at Minnesota's Augsburg University.

"I believe that in order to make change, you have to know how things work," said Johnson, whose dream job would involve serving as a U.S. ambassador. "In my case, this means understanding the history of the government and policies and how laws and policies are made. …

"Being in an environment where I am surrounded by individuals who are just as eager to learn about social justice, community engagement, globalization, and anti-oppression will be an extraordinary learning experience for me," Johnson said. "I will have an entire semester to dedicate time to building mutual understanding with my classmates and the people who will be hosting me during my homestays in Namibia and South Africa. I believe that connecting and speaking with people one-on-one is the best way to build relationships and understanding, in this case, of different cultures and experiences."

Once Johnson returns to Ohio Wesleyan, she will create presentations to share her experiences, including applying for the Gilman International Scholarship, with local high school students and OWU classmates.

"I hope that I am able to influence other students interested in Politics and Government to study in another country to learn more about foreign governments," she said.

Johnson credits her grandmother, the Rev. Martha "Marty" Nordt, a 1970 Ohio Wesleyan graduate, with inspiring her to pursue a career that serves others.

"My grandmother, who is my biggest advocate and supporter, has taught me the importance of treating others with kindness and respect regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, sexual preference, or socioeconomic status," Johnson said.

Since the Gilman International Scholarship Program was established in 2001, over 1,300 U.S. institutions, including Ohio Wesleyan, have sent more than 41,000 Gilman Scholars to study in over 160 countries around the globe. The scholarships seek to foster mutual understanding between peoples of the United States and other countries. Learn more at

Ohio Wesleyan's Department of Politics and Government was created in 1917. Since then, it has emphasized the practice of politics, paying close attention to the actual workings of today's political institutions. Learn more about the department and OWU's Politics and Government major at

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation's premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 70 undergraduate majors and competes in 24 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through its signature experience, the OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan teaches students to understand issues from multiple academic perspectives, volunteer in service to others, build a diverse and global perspective, and translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience through internships, research, and other hands-on learning. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book "Colleges That Change Lives" and included on the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review "Best Colleges" lists. Connect with OWU expert interview sources at or learn more at