Freshman student gets ready to take her passion for teaching on a global journey

Amaiyah Danielle Smith has been honored with the Gilman-McCain Scholarship

Amaiyah Smith will prepare to pack her bags and head overseas to expand on her love for traveling and culture in Japan for two weeks this summer. She was just awarded the Gilman-McCain Scholarship for her study abroad program at the University of South Carolina Aiken.

The award honors the legacy of the late Senator John S. McCain from Arizona and provides up to $5,000 for undergraduate students and spousal dependents of active United States military personnel.

Smith is a freshman and double majoring in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. She's even lived overseas in both Germany and Japan and looks forward to visiting K-12 schools while being abroad. "The Japan study abroad program relates to my major," Smith said. "My experience overseas was fun; I lived in Germany when I went to Elementary School and that was super nice. For the last bit of Middle School and the beginning of High School, I was living in Japan."

Smith's father is currently an active member of the military and loves to tell people she's from everywhere because she's never lived in a place longer than four years. "I've lived in Washington, Germany, Texas, Japan, and then moved to Columbia, South Carolina with my parents." Despite living in so many different states and countries, Smith says she still has more places on her bucket list to visit. "I would just love to travel anywhere," she said. "I've traveled to France, and I was able to travel to Indonesia for a short break and it was an incredible experience to see all those different cultures."

Smith says her goal is to teach grades Pre-K through 5th grade and to become a Department of Defense Education Activity Teacher, which means she would teach on a military base for a U.S. base school overseas. She believes that the Gilman-McCain Scholarship award will help to expand her career. "I'll be able to use my experiences abroad and be able to utilize it in the classroom, especially with young students."

Smith's advice to students looking to travel abroad is to just go for it and to take any opportunity to learn about different cultures. 

For more information, contact Angela Saxon,