Twelve UR students were awarded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships for spring 2012. The recipients are Senior Donias Doko, juniors Kiera Anderson, Rachel Bierasinski, Janise Carmichael, Gabrielle Cornish, Shukri Dualeh, Maxine Humphrey, Marius Kothor, Heather Owen and Kellen Tsai, and sophomores Allayna Dehond and Yaritza Perez.
The Gilman Scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and awards grants of up to $5,000 to students of limited financial needs to help them pursue their education abroad. It is a highly competitive scholarship, with only 30 percent of applicants receiving an award.
A large portion of the application is composed of two essays. Applicants must write a Statement of Purpose, which “addresses the impact that [one’s] study abroad program will have on [his/her] academic, professional and personal goals.”
They also must complete a Follow-On Service Project Proposal. This is a project that promotes international education and must be completed within six months of a Gilman Scholar’s return to the U.S.
For most of the UR Gilman Scholars, the essay, particularly the Follow-On Service project proposal, was the most challenging aspect of the application process.
“Coming up with some sort of idea as to how to continue promoting global education afterward was probably the most difficult part,” said Cornish, who will be studying in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Despite the challenge, the winners were able to come up with promising ideas.
“My proposal was to return to my hometown during the UR fall break and give an interactive study abroad presentation to students at my high school and teach them about opportunities to study abroad with the aid of services such as the Gilman Scholarship,” Carmichael said.
Bierasinski, who will be studying in Berlin, offers a similarly ambitious proposal.
“I will be reaching out to the engineering students, specifically freshmen during freshmen orientation,” she said. “I will also be creating a brochure to be handed out in admissions and the engineering departments. I’m already planning it now.”
The winners are a diverse group of students in terms of the locations and subjects of their studies. They will be going to countries throughout Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America and studying fields from engineering to literature and history to psychology.
Furthermore, almost all of them will be studying in the native language of their study abroad destination.
Applying for and receiving the Gilman Scholarship did not influence any of the winners’ decision on where to study abroad.
“That is what I like about the scholarship, Carmichael said. “They did not tell me where I had to go in order to apply for the scholarship.” She is studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
However, it did influence decisions about whether or not to study abroad.
“The scholarship didn’t influence my destination but it definitively impacted my decision to study abroad,” Doko said. “I knew I wanted to go to London but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to afford it. I am thankful to the Gilman Scholarship for helping me with the financial aspects of studying abroad.”
Indeed, for all of the students, the financial aid that the scholarship provides is a welcome relief. There are many costs involved with study abroad outside of tuition and housing. The scholarship helps to alleviate these not so apparent costs.
For Dehond, who is studying in Sydney, the plane ticket was $1,800 and the visa was $565.
“This scholarship is a huge help as I had a lot of costs that weren’t covered by loans and financial aid,” said Dehond. “I also don’t have a meal plan while abroad so a lot of this money will be going toward food.”
Tsai echoed Dehond’s sentiments.
“I have a limited amount of money to spend, so $4,000 is really helpful. It will help me enjoy Beijing more and will allow me to travel [to other parts of China],” Tsai said.
The prestige of the Gilman Scholarship, in addition to its monetary award, will be beneficial to the 12 students.
“It’s just a really great opportunity to be able to work with other scholarship winners and to help promote global education,” Cornish said.
Hansler is a member of the class of 2015.