A record-setting 12 San Diego State University undergraduate students have been awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in the upcoming spring semester.
The scholarship — sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs — supports 800 students nationwide with up to $5,000 toward their study abroad program cost. For many students, the scholarship enables them to go on their international adventure.
“The Gilman Scholarship is for students who have financial constraints, students who wouldn’t be able to study abroad in their own capacity,” said Douglas Chun, one of SDSU’s Gilman Scholars. The geography major is planning to participate in the “Global Village” program at South Korea’s Yonsei University.
“Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to go,” he said.
Taking the initiative
The Gilman Scholarship program aims higher than solely providing financial support. The administering Institute of International Education (IIE) encourages students to think of their role as global leaders. “They want you to think of what your role in the global community is,” Chun said, “and consider how you can develop, sustain, and grow with it.”
One way to accomplish the goal is through a follow-up project that all scholarship winners have to complete upon returning from their semester abroad. Students can propose to write about their experience, hold a presentation at their home colleges or create some other form of reflection that educates and inspires others.
SDSU student Ulices Mora said that developing the idea for the follow-up project quickly became a central part of his scholarship application process.
“Once I return, I want to go into communities with low income families and talk to them about studying abroad and the benefits of going to college,” he said
A first generation college student himself, Mora values his education as a privilege, including the opportunity to further his studies of economics at the Universidad de Palermo in Argentina.
“I was the first person in my family to graduate high school, go to college, and now I’m going to be the person to go to a country that no one in my family has ever been,” he said.
Believing in the opportunity
A substantial and popular scholarship requires students to stretch a little as the competition can be fierce and the process challenging. “The application was a little longer with a few more requisites,” said Jocelyn Loredo, a mechanical engineering major, who will study at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Spain next semester.
Loredo said she was inspired to file her application after attending a scholarship information session during which a former Gilman Scholar gave a presentation on how she had successfully mastered the process and secured the financial support she needed.
Chun and Mora shared stories similar to Loredo’s. Each of them knew that the Gilman Scholarship is highly competitive and neither was sure about their own personal odds. “I saw someone speak about their study abroad experience and they talked about how they were awarded the Gilman Scholarship,” Mora said. “I realized that it was possible for me to get this kind of scholarship.”
Now that the scholarship winners know they will be able to tackle their studies abroad, they can’t wait to make their experience count. “We are having a great opportunity to grow professionally and as people,” said Loredo, echoing everyone’s excitement. “Being able to study abroad is an advantage that we are so privileged to have.”
Fellow Gilman Scholars
Additional SDSU students offered the Gilman Scholarship for the upcoming spring semester include:
- Jessica Huynh, United Kingdom
- Seimon Arcinue, Singapore
- Trina Thierry, Nicaragua
- Alina Bilal, United Kingdom
- Rosa Calderon, Hong Kong
- Derek Forde, Hong Kong
- Malake Wehbe, Turkey
- Chris Widdop, Thailand
- Haley Chasteene, Turkey