Erica Olson

Erica Olson chose UA Little Rock with hopes of becoming a physician. While she could have graduated in May 2018 with two degrees in chemistry and biology, a short-term study abroad trip to Spain altered her graduation plans and served as a revelation to Olson.

“I realized how the study abroad experience had affected me. I didn’t want to jump into medical school, where there would be rigid limits with regrets of not taking advantage of the opportunity I so desired. I wanted to study abroad again with the same amazing program and in Spain again to continue my dream experience but in a fresh, new way.”

Olson was able to continue that dream experience in the fall of 2018, when she received $2,500 from the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship program. This allowed her to study at the University of Granada: Center of Modern Languages in Spain during the fall semester.

“I am very grateful for the scholarship. I come from a single-parent household, so money for education has been tight,” Olson said. “Beginning in high school, I have tried to ensure myself financially by trying to get as many scholarships as possible to try to relieve that financial pressure on my mom.”

Additionally, Olson entered her fifth year at UA Little Rock by adding a third major, Spanish. She hoped that her semester in Spain will improve her language skills enough so she can hold conversations with patients who only speak Spanish.

“I came into college with the goal of becoming a physician who would be able to speak with patients in Spanish on at least a basic level,” she said. “I envision myself in the future as a physician and hope that I could bridge the gap between the communication barriers and make my patients feel more comfortable and understood. That’s my overall goal, so I can one day help patients, regardless if they can speak English or not.”

After completing her third major, Olson plans to apply to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

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