LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 12, 2016) — University of Kentucky students Steven Liu and Courtney Eaton are two of 850 undergraduate students from 359 colleges and universities across the United States selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship offers grants for undergraduate students in the United States to pursue academic studies or career-oriented internships abroad. Eaton, an elementary education major from Louisville, Kentucky, was awarded $1,000 to participate in the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching (COST) program in South Africa. Liu, a Lexington native studying computer science, received $4,000 to complete the Nagoya University exchange program in Japan.
The Gilman program seeks to assist students who are U.S. citizens from a diverse range of both public and private institutions across the nation. The selection process is extremely competitive, and the recipients must use the award to aid them with eligible study or intern abroad costs, with a maximum award value of $5,000.
“Being a first-generation college student and paying for my own education meant I had an extremely low chance of studying abroad,” Eaton said. “This scholarship, along with a few others, is helping me achieve my dream of studying abroad.”
Liu had wanted to study abroad since his freshman year, he said, and was extremely interested in Japanese studies, which made the Nagoya exchange program a perfect fit for him. “When I saw an education abroad flyer while walking around campus, I decided to give it a look,” Liu said. “The opportunity is right there, why wouldn’t I take it?”
“I hope that this will allow me to see from a different perspective when teaching my own students of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds,” he added.
UK Education Abroad (EA) advisor Laurence Tuccori said he was very proud of both students for their success. “The Gilman Scholarship is a very competitive and prestigious national award,” Tuccori said. “It’s a big money scholarship, which offers undergraduates who might not otherwise be able to afford an education abroad experience the chance to expand their horizons and discover just how many opportunities the world has to offer.”
The award’s namesake, retired New York congressman Gilman said that study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, this congressionally funded program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and is administered by the Institute of International Education through its office in Houston, Texas.
“Living and learning in the vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience,” Gilman said. “It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”
Students interested in applying for the Gilman scholarship can attend UK EA’s upcoming Scholarship Workshop which will take in January. More information is also available at www.iie.org/en/Programs/Gilman-Scholarship-Program. Applications for 2017 scholarships open in mid-January and are due March 7, 2017.
Besides external scholarships, students can also apply to several scholarships available through UK Education Abroad. About $450,000 in scholarships and grants were awarded last year to students who wanted to pursue opportunities abroad with UK EA. For information on available education abroad programs at the University of Kentucky, visit www.uky.edu/international/financial_aid.
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