By Leslie Brice, Maryland International 

A whopping  16  University of Maryland students won the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study around the world. The Gilman Scholarship, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, awards up to $5,000 for study abroad to U.S. undergraduates who receive Pell Grants. Maryland’s newest Gilman Scholars will study in 12 countries on four continents during the spring 2013 semester. The program aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go by supporting undergraduates who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints. It also fosters mutual understanding between the people of other countries to promote friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations.

“The University of Maryland is committed both to making international educational experiences accessible to all students regardless of financial background and to increasing the number of students who study abroad in less common destinations. The Gilman Scholarship Program plays a significant role in making this happen,” says Ross Lewin, Associate Vice President for International Affairs.

Study abroad is a life-changing experience, and the Gilman Scholarship provides the opportunity for students to study abroad. “Making study abroad affordable for all of our students is a top priority,” says Graham Hettlinger, director of Education Abroad. “This spring, 67 percent of all the University of Maryland students who applied for a Gilman award actually received one. That means that if you put careful effort into your application and worked consistently with the National Scholarships Office during the application process, you were actually more likely to receive an award than not. That’s an unprecedented rate of success. I hope this will help spread word that there is important, accessible financial aid available to UMD students who need support to study overseas.”

For Jessica Srun, a senior Environmental Studies major, studying in San Ramón, Costa Rica will give her valuable real-world experience. Coursework in conservation, human environmental impacts, and intensive Spanish will give her a solid foundation for what most excites her: “I really want to learn sustainability practices from the people there and understand real-life implications.”

Catherine Kinlein, a junior Russian and Journalism double major, will spend the semester in Saint Petersburg, Russia taking courses in advanced Russian and international media. “I need to be there,” she states, “to practice and advance my Russian. You need an immersion environment to do that.” She’s also eager to experience Russian culture—particularly museums—firsthand. 

College of Arts and Humanities Spring 2013 Gilman Scholarship Winners

  • Tyra Cooper, Chinese major studying in China
  • Catherine Kinlein, Russian major studying in Russia
  • Bernard McEntee, History major and Japanese minor studying in Japan 
  • Brianna Schumaker, French minor studying in France