Gilman Scholarship

Why I Decided To Study Abroad

The first time I flew to another country, I was 15 years old. I traveled to Honduras with my family to participate in a mission trip. I remember trying to decide whether I was looking at clouds or ocean from my window seat in the plane. I remember walking out of the airport and breathing in the heavy, humid air. I remember trying to find words to converse with, but instead communicating with laughter and smiles. I remember widening my eyes in an effort to see every single thing that passed my bus window. I remember reaching to catch children I had never met as they joyously leapt into my arms. I remember working and playing and cliff-jumping and singing. I remember teaching and learning. I remember sharing and receiving. I remember laughing and crying. The entire trip was captivating. If I hadn’t already known it before this trip to Central America, I was certain of it after returning home: travel opened up the door to a bright, beautiful, and infinitely magical world.

Gilman Scholarship

As the countdown until departure to New Zealand [Spring 2018] begins, my excitement mounts. I anticipate the experiences I will have, the things I will learn, the perspective I will gain, and the memories I will collect. I realize that these incredible experiences would not be possible without organizations such as BCA Study Abroad and the Gilman Foundation, and I am forever grateful for all of the help that has made my adventure possible. I hope to continue living in and learning by experiencing other cultures and traveling abroad.

Applying For the Gilman Scholarship

As I began planning my trip to New Zealand, I knew I needed financial assistance. I first encountered the Gilman International Scholarship through my own research. Shortly there after, the study abroad office at Juniata College encouraged me to apply. For those who are unfamiliar with the scholarships, the Gilman is awarded in honor of the late U.S. Representative, Benjamin A. Gilman, this grant allows financially-challenged students to study abroad. The application process requires the completion of an online profile as well as the submission of an essay. The essay portion of the application was the opportunity to present oneself as a unique and worthy applicant.

I worked hard to write an application essay that accurately displayed my love of travel, my dedication to academics, my interest in New Zealand, and my financial need. I also turned to faculty at my home institution for help. Staff at the international office offered their time and support. Several staff members read over and edited my essay. Additionally, they looked over my application materials to check for any errors. Finally, the registrar’s office helped ensure that all necessary academic application materials were made available.  I would advise new applicants to begin writing the essay portion of the application early. I found that going through several rounds of editing resulted in a much stronger essay that ultimately won me the scholarship. Therefore, I encourage applicants to begin the process in advance, allowing for ample time to read and reread their application materials.

In the end, I was fortunate enough to receive this grant, making my trip to New Zealand a financial possibility. With the help of the Gilman Foundation, my home institution and BCA, I’ve been able to focus my efforts on planning my trip instead of worrying about whether or not I could afford to study abroad.

Eligibility for a Gilman Scholarship:

*Please refer to the Gilman Scholarship website for an up-to-date list of edibility requirements.

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be an undergraduate student in good standing at an accredited institution of higher education in the United States (including both two-year and four-year institutions)
  • Be receiving a Federal Pell Grant or provide proof that he/she will be receiving a Pell Grant during the term of his/her study abroad program or internship
  • Be in the process of applying to, or accepted for, a study abroad or internship program of at least two weeks for community college students and three weeks for students from four-year institutions, in a single country and eligible for credit from the student’s home institution. Proof of program acceptance is required prior to award disbursement
  • Be proposing to study in a country not currently under a Travel Warning issued by the United States Department of State* or otherwise determined ineligible for program participation

About the Author – Rebekah Ford, Spring 2018 Dunedin, New Zealand and Juniata College Student

Bekah is a junior at Juniata College studying Biology. After graduation, she plans to do some adventuring in the Rocky Mountains before attending graduate school.

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