Scholarship Makes Study Abroad More Affordable

Five students win scholarship for once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
Teejay, a study abroad student, looking out over the Mediterranean Sea

Scuba diving in Malta, studying Spanish culture in Spain, hiking in Peru — these are just a handful of opportunities that give you the chance to immerse yourself in another culture when you study abroad. While the cost can be an obstacle, what you may not realize is that there are several ways to offset the expense of living and learning in another country.

The congressionally funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship provides financial support to outstanding undergraduate Pell Grant recipients who, due to financial constraints, might not otherwise study abroad. Recently, five UMKC Roos received the Gilman scholarship, for a combined total of $16,500, to help fund their study abroad experiences in spring and early summer 2019.

“Growing up, my parents could only afford to give me what I absolutely needed. They couldn’t even afford to send me to college, so studying abroad would not be possible without the Gilman Scholarship,” says -Brian Ramirez

junior health sciences major. He is minoring in Spanish and plans to study in Spain.

As a first-generation college student and son of Mexican immigrants, Ramirez says he’s grateful that he is able to attend college and to even have an opportunity to consider studying abroad. After all, hundreds of students across the country apply for the Gilman scholarship each year.

Another Gilman scholar, Katrena Smith, says her study abroad location was, in a way, fate. Her grandfather confirmed her decision to study in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He told her how beautiful it was when he was stationed there years ago when he was in the military.

Slovenia’s beautiful landscape and her personal connection to the country excited Smith, a photographer hobbyist, who also plans to document the culture shock of Slovenia. Even more, she’s going to partner with the American Cancer Society to blog her six-month experience abroad for teenage cancer patients, to show girls the opportunities she’s been granted since beating leukemia at age 11.

“I didn’t think I’d be here, so it means a lot to me to show other girls that it’s possible for them,” says Smith, who will spend the spring 2019 semester immersed in Slovenia’s college life. She will stay in a dormitory with a roommate while studying sociology at the local university in Ljubljana.

When he returns to the states, Ramirez and will go back to his high school alma mater and speak to students about the value of study abroad.

“Why not go back to where I came from? I want other kids who struggled like me to see that it’ll be okay, that it’s possible to go to college and even study abroad,” says Ramirez, who will live with a host family and take classes at the University of Malaga. He’s excited to compare the different dialects of Spanish spoken between Mexico and Spain. 

Gilman Scholarship Awardees

Spring Semester 2019

Katrena Smith, Slovenia
Psychology major; Family Studies and Sociology minor 

Early Summer 2019

Jacob Furry, Denmark
Music Education, Music Performance – Trumpet major; Psychology minor; Honors

Niesha King, Spain
Psychology and Spanish majors

Brian Ramirez, Spain
Health Sciences major; Spanish minor

Sarah Schleicher, Costa Rica
Spanish major; Latina/Latino Studies minor 

Apply for the Gilman Scholarship

The Gilman Scholarship applications for the “regular” 2019 summer round as well as fall 2019 and academic year 2019-20 will open in mid-January and be due on March 5. The UMKC International Academic Programs office offers multiple Gilman Scholarship workshops each semester and provides individualized advising in advance of the national deadline. The next Gilman Workshop will take place 4 to 5 p.m. Jan. 30 in the Atterbury Student Success Center, Room 236.

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