Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

WT Student to Study in South Korea Thanks to State Department Scholarship


CANYON, Texas — A West Texas A&M University student who grew up in foster care now will study in his ancestral home in South Korea for the 2023-24 academic year thanks to a generous scholarship from the U.S. Department of State.

Noah Wolff, a sophomore biology major from Pampa, will study at Chonnam National University in Gwanju beginning in August after receiving a $7,000 Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship from the State Department.

The Gilman Scholarship enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, providing them with skills critical to national security and economic prosperity, according to the State Department.

“This really means a lot,” Wolff said. “The biggest issue with traveling was that I couldn’t afford it. Going abroad is a super expensive proposition.

“This is going to change my life.”

Wolff, who said he is on the autism spectrum, plans to attend work in neuroscience, inspired not only by his own life experiences but also those acquired while working at the Center for Autism in Denver during a gap year before starting his studies at WT.

Wolff was adopted by a single father with financial struggles. After graduating from high school, the family of his biological father made contact with him, including his paternal grandmother in Oklahoma City.

“She did not speak a lick of English, so I learned Korean so I could talk to her,” Wolff said. “She really changed the way I viewed the world.”

In addition to studying in Gwanju, Wolff plans to travel throughout South Korea during his year in the country.

“For me, this is about finding myself and learning the culture,” Wolff said. “I’ll have a minor in East Asian studies, so I’ll be taking 24 credit hours while I’m abroad to achieve that goal.”

Wolff is “one of the most determined students I’ve ever met,” said Carolina Galloway, WT’s director of Study Abroad and Nationally Competitive Scholarships.

“When he first talked to us about studying abroad it was clear that he was willing to go the extra mile to make his dream come true. Even when he faced obstacles, he never lost his enthusiasm and positive attitude, which are such defining traits of his character,” Galloway said. “Instead, he reached out to the people who were there to support him and found practical solutions to overcome those challenges. I am excited to see how Noah’s life has already started to change thanks to his Study Abroad program, even though he hasn’t even left the country yet.”

During his freshman year, Wolff was part of the 2022-23 cohort of WT’s College Assistance Migrant Program, or CAMPwhich facilitates the transition from high school to college and offers first-year support services to develop the skills necessary to persist and graduate from college. The program offered Wolff crucial assistance in navigating his freshman year.

“I have social autism and I had just spent a year alone in Denver working with kids with autism,” Wolff said. “Meeting all of the CAMP students was a social jolt. I made so many friends. Plus, the required tutoring sessions really motivated me and helped me develop good study habits.”

Fabiola Hernandez, CAMP coordinator, said that Wolff is a remarkably resourceful student.

“In our program, I’ve seen him network and make connections across the campus and community,” Hernandez said. “Every time we met for advising sessions, he would update me on who else he connected with to find resources to continue his education.”

The Gilman Program broadens the student population that studies and interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints. The program aims to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries or areas and world regions. The program also encourages students to study languages, especially critical need languages, those deemed important to national security.

When Wolff returns to campus, he hopes to find ways to increase the visibility of Asian culture on campus.

“I want to expose more students to the culture with a Winter Festival and a Summer Festival—something more experiential than a support group,” he said. “And I hope to help make Study Abroad more visible and more viable for students who may not realize how they can take part.”

Offering intellectually challenging, critically reflective and regionally responsive academic programs, including Study Abroad, is the University’s primary mission, as laid out in the long-range plan WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021— has raised more than $125 million and will continue through 2025.

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