Out of 1,000 American undergraduate students from 386 colleges, seven UNLV students were chosen to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad for the fall 2017 semester. The Institute of International Education, which administers the Gilman Scholarship, also awarded another UNLV student with the prestigious Freeman-Asia Scholarship, making it a record number of recipients in a single term for UNLV.
These students worked with UNLV Office of International Programs to find the right study abroad program and funding sources for them.
The U.S. Department of State’s Gilman Scholarship program enables students of limited financial means to pursue their studies in STEM, social science, humanities, and the arts abroad, thereby gaining skills critical to our national security and economic competitiveness. The program emphasizes countries and regions where fewer Americans traditionally study. The Freeman-Asia scholarship supports students with demonstrated financial need to pursue their studies abroad in East or Southeast Asia.
Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply to their costs with additional funding available to those studying a critical language abroad. In addition to major courses, study abroad students can enroll in intensive language programs to acquire up to four semesters of language credit in a single semester.
The scholars for the fall 2017 term share their goals and advice for other students interested in the program
Majors: English and Japanese
Why Japan? After I studied in Brighton, England, through UNLV’s study abroad program in 2015. I chose Japan as my next destination because of my future career choice. I want to be a teacher in Japan and decided to see what living there was like before I graduated.
Goal: One goal I look forward to achieving most is improving my Japanese language skills and making progress toward my Japanese minor.
Advice: Write about what you love about where you're going! Most of all, revise and edit your essay. Have others look at it as well. They might see some mistakes you missed. Get help from your study abroad advisor. They love helping students!
Major: English with a double minor in secondary education and history
Why England? As nerdy as it sounds, I chose England as my program destination partly because it is the origin of many of my literary favorites: Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Neil Gaiman, Daphne du Maurier, J.K. Rowling, etc. What better place to continue my literary education? The famous sceneries are an added perk!
Why study abroad: One of my goals is to grow into myself as a future educator… and master the public transportation systems!
Venturing beyond: Since traveling in Europe is a bit easier, one thing I’m really excited for is travelling within and outside the United Kingdom. France and Italy are only two countries I have my heart set on.
Advice: I would recommend that students inflect their personalities into their essays. Don’t be afraid to talk about the things you enjoy. What kind of activities do you want to take part in? Any local hot spots you want to visit? Why is this experience so important to you? The Gilman scholarship wants to help you achieve your goals, and they want to see that you’re truly excited about the opportunity to pursue international education.
Major: Anthropology with a minor in psychology
Why South Korea? I’m interested in studying in a non-traditional location to then compare the similarities and differences I find with my own country. I hosted a South Korean exchange student this past year and the way she talked about her culture inspired me to see it with my own eyes. Plus, the food is amazing!
Goal: To challenge myself and learn the language.
Looking forward to: One of the things I'm most excited for is to eat their amazing food!
Advice: Stay organized when preparing your essays. Mainly be aware of deadlines and time everything accordingly so you can still get feedback before sending in your final application.
Major: Marketing with minor in Japanese
Why Japan? I always had a burning desire to study abroad when I was younger, but didn’t know where at the time. After studying Japanese in high school and in college, Japan became my top destination. I didn’t want to compromise the city life as I have grown accustomed to it living in Las Vegas, therefore Osaka was a perfect choice for me.
Goals: First, I want to be able to dream in Japanese. I’ve had many friends tell me that dreaming in their non-native language was a true marker of progress in their language acquisition. Second, I want to eat hot corn soup from a vending machine on the streets of Japan!
Advice: Writing Center, Writing Center, and Writing Center! Each time I went to the Writing Center, I asked for a different person in efforts to gain as wide a perspective on my essays as possible. Even though I thought my essay was great the first time I wrote it, I had to revise it more than four times.
Major: Romance languages with minors in gender and sexuality studies, African American studies, and political science
Why France? I chose Pau as my program because it has been my goal since I was 14 to study in France. I also chose Pau because I want to have the opportunity to participate in an internship while studying abroad, which they offer.
Goal: I most look forward to achieving fluency in French while abroad.
Excited about: Immersion in both French culture and through the courses I will be taking, such as French Stylistics. Additionally, I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to live in a new city and adapt to new circumstances without the immediate support of my family.
Advice: It's imperative to have as many people proofread your essay as possible, and utilize every resource available to you.
Major: Sculpture with a minor in dance
Why Japan? After studying in China through UNLV’s program this past spring, I chose to study in Japan for the fall. I picked Osaka because I want to continue to develop my art aesthetic/repertoire while exploring what it means to be transgender and of mixed-Japanese descent in contemporary Japanese society.
Goal: I look forward to meaningfully developing my research and, eventually, being able to contribute undergraduate research at UNLV.
Advice: It is important to be authentic, have conviction in your message (stress the value of your perspective), and be concise. Be straightforward and answer questions deliberately and intentionally. Proofread and ensure your work is academically sound.
Major: Human services and gender and sexuality studies
Why Costa Rica? I want to learn Spanish in one of the most beautiful and biodiverse places in the world! It also neighbors my home country of Panama!
Goals: I most look forward to achieving is fluency in Spanish. Language justice!
Excited about: The hiking and nature exploration of the Poás Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls.
Advice: UTILIZE RESOURCES! Between the Writing Center, study abroad advisors, and all the online media offered by Gilman, you have support. Do not get so caught up in your own head that you don't reach out and ask for help. Your essay will be better off! Plus, it helped me to stay on track while writing by scheduling appointments that I had to be prepared for.
Major: Philosophy with political science minor
Why China? I chose to participate in the Chengdu program for better insight into the politics and government of China and to have the opportunity to grow as a globally thinking individual.
Goal: One of the things I’m most looking forward to achieving is learning Mandarin while studying abroad.
Excited about: The opportunity to meet new people and to explore China's rich history and culture. This one was really hard to narrow down because I am excited for a million and one things!
Advice: Start early and make sure they have someone revise it (i.e. the Writing Center). It is always best to have a fresh pair of eyes review your work.
More about the Gilman Scholars Program
The namesake of the scholarship, the late Congressman Benjamin Gilman, stated that “living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but adds an enriching social and cultural experience. 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.”
Those words strongly resonate with one of UNLV’s undergraduate learning outcomes, which calls for our graduates to have developed knowledge of global and multicultural societies, and an awareness of their place in and effect on them.