Ask anyone in the study abroad field to name the most competitive national scholarships and the Gilman Scholarship will be on their list.
Congressionally funded and sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is administered by the Institute of International Education and aims to encourage students to choose non-traditional study abroad destinations. The program also aims to support students who have been traditionally under-represented in study abroad, including students with high financial need, students with diverse ethnic backgrounds, and students with disabilities.
For spring 2012, two William & Mary students have been awarded Gilman scholarships.
Nicole McCauley ‘13
Nicole McCauley ’13 decided to apply for a Gilman Scholarship after visiting the Reves Center for International Studies and picking up a pamphlet about funding for study abroad opportunities. With her award she is studying at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
“I was drawn to St Andrews because of many aspects, one of which was the impressive overall quality of education,” explained McCauley. “There also exists a sense of community between campus and town that I have always loved. As an English major, I’m very interested in studying English Literature at a university known for a great, competitive program. I also feel that I am attracted to student life at St Andrews for many of the reasons I am attracted to student life at William & Mary. Both universities have globally-attuned, passionate students who are eager to help shape and better the world.”
One of the requirements of accepting a Gilman Scholarship is to undertake a Follow-On Service Project to share one’s study abroad experiences and help others become excited about applying for a Gilman and studying abroad. McCauley plans to undertake a series of visits to her high school in order to discuss college students as global citizens.
“I will use my experiences abroad to show students the many possibilities college can offer them,” said McCauley, “and not just from one location.”
In addition to her speaking engagements, McCauley wants to work with W&M’s Women’s Studies program to explore more about how the stereotypes of college women in America differ from those in Scotland, and if college men are subjected to stereotypes as well. Once she has reflected on these gender issues, McCauley hopes to contact Women’s Studies majors in other countries and explore possibilities for a public forum on these gender stereotypes.
Johanna Hribal ‘13
Hispanic Studies and Secondary Education major Johanna Hribal ’13 heard about the Gilman Scholarship from students who received awards previously. She is using her scholarship to study in La Plata, Argentina. W&M’s program is the only semester study-abroad program for American university students in La Plata, and is structured around the in-depth, interdisciplinary study of human rights.
“What really attracted me to the La Plata program is the interconnection of it all,” remarked Hribal. “With the Comisión Provincial por la Memoria, students participate in an internship, take courses, and stay with a host family, all connected to the Comisión. We have a chance to learn about human rights in a post-dictatorship society and the opportunity to contribute something ourselves during our time there.”
With an eye towards teaching at the secondary level, Hribal wants to be as fluent in Spanish as possible and hopes to return to Williamsburg with a “legitimate Argentinian accent.” Her ultimate goal is to share her experiences abroad with students, and to someday lead high school students on summer academic or service trips abroad.
At the end of her program, Hribal plans to conduct her Gilman service project through two information sessions. The first will be a formal session focused on exploring the Gilman Scholarship application process and her semester study abroad experience. The second will be an informal discussion of Argentina’s history and culture at the Spanish House, W&M’s living-learning community for those interested in Hispanic culture.
When asked about advice for future Gilman applications, Hribal is enthusiastic in her reply.
“If you’re thinking about applying, do it! Study abroad is the greatest opportunity you have to learn about the world, and college is the perfect time to do it. I am indescribably grateful for this scholarship!”
Nationally, one in three student applicants receive some sort of funding after applying for a Gilman Scholarship. William & Mary offers students a number of resources when applying for the Gilman or other study abroad scholarships.
“There are many resources on campus to assist W&M students with increasing their likelihood of receiving an award,” said Molly DeStafney, assistant director for study abroad operations at the Reves Center for International Studies. “The Roy R. Charles Center’s Peer Scholarship Advisors will read over students’ essays, and the Peer Advisors and study abroad advisors at the Reves Center are always happy to help as well.”
Hribal and McCauley both took advantage of campus resources to polish their applications. McCauley credits the Reves Center, her financial aid adviser and the Gilman Scholarship staff for helping her through the process. For Hribal, the Financial Aid Office and the Charles Center had a big impact, including her Peer Scholarship Advisor Libby Hennemuth ‘13.
Students interested in learning more about their study abroad options as William & Mary students should first attend a Study Abroad Workshop at the Reves Center, then make an appointment to talk with a study abroad advisor. Those interested in learning more about study abroad scholarship opportunities should visit the Reves Center website for a list of scholarships available to W&M students, and contact the Charles Center for more information.
More information on the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program is available on the Institute of International Education’s website.