“The Gilman Scholarship will benefit me by expanding my horizon globally and setting me out of my comfort zone,” said Diandre’ Richie, a University of North Carolina junior.
Richie is one of nearly 1,500 US undergraduate students to receive a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad through the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The ECA’s Gilman Scholarship initiative began in 2001 and is supported by the Institute of International Education. Since then, the program has facilitated over 36,000 US students study or intern in over 155 countries.
Gilman Scholars must be recipients of Pell grants to qualify for funding from ECA. The initiative supports the department’s mission around diversity, equity, and inclusion, with an average of 70% of recipients identifying as racial or ethnic minorities, 60% coming from rural America, and 50% first generation college or university students.
Programs vary in length, location, and mode of delivery. During his May 2023 Gilman program, Ritchie will spend a week in Iceland with The Green Program, an initiative that specialises in creating global sustainability solutions.
“I will focus on renewable energy innovation and sustainability,” the environmental science major shared. “This will expand my network in the sustainability field while also allowing me to get professional advice that will help me during my future studies.”
Leyha Williams also majors in environmental studies. The Howard University student told The PIE she is passionate about sustainability, culture, and storytelling and seeks to apply her unique perspectives and abilities to generate excitement about sustainability.
“My goal for my study abroad can be summarised by one word: connection”
Williams will attend the University of Ghana next semester as a Gilman Scholar. “My goal for my study abroad can be summarised by one word: connection. I want to connect to my culture; I want to connect to the landscape; I want to connect to the people.” She said she hopes to foster this connection through coursework and volunteer efforts so she can apply her knowledge and skills to positively impact communities globally.
During the pandemic, the Gilman program offered students virtual opportunities to study abroad. Josh Pope is a recent graduate of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University who participated in a virtual exchange in Taiwan as a Gilman scholar while the pandemic ensued.
Pope said he particularly enjoyed the service project that is a part of the program’s requirements. “As part of my project, I returned to my old high school and talked to current students in the Model UN team about Gilman, studying foreign policy, and becoming a foreign service fellow.”
Joseph Meringolo, assistant director at the Center for Global Education and Fellowships at Salve Regina University, said, “The Gilman provides up to $5,000 to each scholar, which can help cover those more direct study abroad costs, such as visa fees and flights, and even the major expense areas like room and board.”
Meringolo believes the scholarship gives scholars more “financial bandwidth” within their study abroad experience, adding that the funds “support the ability of scholars to have more access to programming that might be additional, and not included in the standard program fee.”
Applications for the next round of Gilman Scholars open in mid-January 2023 with an application deadline of 9 March.