The prestigious scholarship is worth going for even with a daunting application.
Understanding how to travel abroad in the summer can be hard, especially if you’ve got a heavy semester and a light wallet. If you’re in the position to travel this summer and want to maximize your vacation, consider that the option of studying abroad can make the difference on your resume between a great candidate and a perfect candidate.
Even with all these obstacles and other potential restraints in your own situation, there is a way to get there. The Gilman A. Benjamin Scholarship is something that is available for students with limited financial means to study abroad, and it’s a way to help bridge that gap from what is only mere speculation to actual realization of your trip abroad. The catch — there always is one — is that it is highly competitive. There are basic requirements to the Gilman Scholarship, but I’ll explain them and let you know how/where to get more information about it if you’re interested.
The direct description of the scholarship is “… [a] program [that] aims to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries or areas and world regions … by supporting undergraduate students who have high financial need, the program has been successful in supporting students who have been historically underrepresented in education abroad, including but not limited to first-generation college students, students in STEM fields, ethnic minority students, students with disabilities, students attending HBCUs or other minority-serving institutions, students attending community colleges and students coming from U.S. states with less study abroad participation.”
In addition to the basic need for eligibility, there is also a mandatory, in-depth application to fill out.
The incentive to apply to this application includes a monetary award of up to $5,000 (and applicants who are studying a critical-need language while abroad can apply for a supplemental award of up to $3,000, for a combined total of $8,000). This program is also funded by the U.S. Department of State, which grants you access for Non-Competitive Federal Employment opportunities in jobs and careers. You are also connected to the Gilman Alumni community and have a higher chance of participating as a Fulbright Applicant. All of these benefits are bonuses on top of being able to go abroad.
Only around 20 percent of students who apply are awarded the scholarship, so there are some things you will want to take into consideration. You must be a U.S. citizen and an undergraduate student in good standing with the university. Although there is no minimum GPA requirement, preference is given to students who have high academic performance.
Your destination is also something to take into account. Although this did not end up impacting me personally (I went to Italy), students trying to study in underrepresented countries will be given preference. These countries are in the following regions: Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and the Pacific (with the exception of Australia, China, Japan and South Korea) and South and Central Asia. So while studying in traditional study-abroad countries is possible, your application enters a higher selectivity range. Last, you must be able to clearly define your goals for impacting the community if given the chance to study abroad.
If all of the above sounds like you, then I highly encourage you to apply. The Gilman Scholarship recently reopened for application for summer 2019 on Jan. 17. The Study Abroad office also will host an info session on Wednesday, Feb. 6, from 12–1 p.m. in the Allen Chapman Student Union Alcove Room to answer any additional questions.