Pioneer Swimmer Spends Semester in South Korea

By Heather Brocious

Who needs an offseason pool workout when you have an abundance of stairs? For William Paterson swimmer Ruth Midence of Union City, a semester spent studying at South Korea’s Dankook University had some unforeseen advantages.

“There were 17 flights of stairs, so that was my exercise,” the current senior said with a laugh about the hilly terrain.

The recipient of the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Midence made her second trip to South Korea as an exchange student last spring. After finishing her swimming season at William Paterson in February, she spent four months in Yongin, a 45-minute ride from Seoul, taking five classes as well as a language course.

Midence was one of approximately 700 American recipients of the Gilman Scholarship, applying after Susan Godar, professor of marketing and management, mentioned it in one of her marketing classes. The opportunity was a perfect fit, since Midence transferred to William Paterson in order to resume swimming competitively, but also to take advantage of the University’s academic offerings.

“I really wanted to swim again, and a lot of my friends were already going to school here,” said Midence of her decision to become a Pioneer. “I really wanted to learn Korean, and William Paterson has a global business major, so it was a great fit.”

During her time at Dankook, Midence was able to not only benefit academically from the semester abroad, but also absorb the culture with visits to iconic locations like the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

“The biggest challenge for me was communication because some of the older people don’t know a lot of English, and transportation was also sometimes tough,” she recalls. “But the best part was meeting new people and seeing a lot of the sites in the area.”

The Dean’s List student is considering attending graduate school overseas, and eventually would like to work abroad in a behind-the-scenes field such as human resources or operations. But first, she will complete her final collegiate season in the pool while finishing her bachelor’s degree in January.

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