WSU Student Goes to England with Help from Jay Z, State Department

Rapper JAY Z had England on the brain when he named his upcoming album Magna Carta Holy Grail, so it’s fitting that he helped a Wayne State undergraduate study there this year.

Quenton White, who in May completed his third year of work on a degree in public relations, spent the winter semester at the University of Salford, Manchester, as one of only four inaugural recipients of the Shawn Carter Foundation-Gilman International Scholarships. The new scholarships, created through a partnership between JAY Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, support the State Department’s goal of expanding opportunities for students with diverse backgrounds to study abroad.

A 2012 recipient of an individual scholarship from the Shawn Carter Foundation, White learned about the competitive Gilman award in November and applied. He was selected along with three students from Princeton University, Northwestern University, and Connecticut College, who respectively studied in Athens, Barcelona, and Copenhagen while White was in England.

White said the opportunity was a pleasant surprise. “It just kind of appeared,” he said. “I have always been open to exploring the world, but I didn’t think it would be through academics.” The experience was also “enriching,” White said, exposing him to different ideas both in the classroom and in his dormitory, where he lived with students of various nationalities.

White, who intends to study law after earning his bachelor’s, is seizing opportunities during his time at Wayne State. Last summer he landed an internship at Quicken Loans – one of just a few hundred for which several thousand applicants vied – and while in England he volunteered for UK Cancer Research, distributing literature and helping to raise awareness about cancer prevention and treatment.

White urges other Wayne students to follow their dreams.

“Go after what you believe in while you’re young and still have the energy and desire,” he said. “You don't have much to lose and regret is hard to live with.”

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