Francis Suen, Amy Ho, Abigail Cessna and Orela Suku received the Gilman scholarship, which “offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad,” according to the program website. The goals of the scholarship include increasing the number of students studying abroad in “non-traditional” locations, as described by the program’s website.
“The Gilman Scholarship Program broadens the student population that studies abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints,” the website reads. “The program aims to encourage students to choose non-traditional study abroad destinations, especially those outside of Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand … [and] aims to support students who have been traditionally under-represented in study abroad, including but not limited to, students with high financial need, community college students, students in under-represented fields such as the sciences and engineering, students with diverse ethnic backgrounds, and students with disabilities.”
Suen, a Drexel iSchool student, is using his scholarship award to partake in Drexel’s Global Engineering Education Exchange program at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.
Ho, a Lebow College of Business Economics student, will be studying through Drexel’s exchange program with Chung Yuan Christian University in Chungli, Taiwan, along with Cessna, an International Area Studies major in the College of Arts of Sciences.
“I’m really pleased that I got [the scholarship] and since I’m doing an internship afterward it will help for some of my living costs too,” Cessna said. “It’s a great idea for Drexel students because it can help with living costs, which is important especially with co-ops.”
Suku, too, was excited about the prospects that the scholarship offered.
“I was so ecstatic [about getting the scholarship], especially since I found out that my best friend and I got it at the same time and it was such a relief to hear that I don’t have to pay for all of the study abroad costs,” Suku said.
Suku, a Lebow College of Business student studying business administration, will be attending American University in Rome, Italy through the Drexel in Italy study abroad program. While there, Suku plans to travel everywhere.
“[I want to go] all over Italy and all over Europe,” Suku said. “I will be studying art and volunteering for the American Women’s Association in Rome, which is an organization that sets up community service events in Rome.”
Suku added that the Gilman Scholarship for study abroad is for students who received a federal Pell Grant and will be studying abroad for a full semester. He said the award amounts vary based on financial need, but the award is given in the form of a check and can be used for any study abroad-related costs from airfare to living to tuition.
“One of the main requirements for receiving the scholarship is that the recipient completes a follow-on project promoting the Gilman Scholarship and studying abroad to students in their university community,” Suku said. “Part of the application process is writing a proposal of how you plan on completing the follow-on project and later providing documentation of the project.”
Cessna said the application process was actually a lot easier than another scholarship she also applied to, but she advises other students to start early, since communication with financial and study abroad advisors is key.
Suku shared this sentiment, adding that the application components included writing an essay, sending an official transcript, obtaining certification from both study abroad and student advisors and other documentation.
Suku said he did not think he would get the scholarship when he applied, but believes his essay was a strong reason for being selected. He also said language should not be a barrier.
“Don’t be scared to study abroad just because you aren’t so prepared in the language; you can always overcome those things,” Suku said.
The Gilman Study Abroad Scholarships are sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. They are administered by the Institute of International Education.
(By Laura McDavid, thetriangle.org)