Senior Becomes Fifth BC Student to Win Prestigious Gilman Study Abroad Scholarship

December 15, 2009 | Brooklyn College

Brooklyn, NY—Melissa Aristide, a senior pre-med and biology major, will be heading to Spain later this month on a scholarship from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. A Brooklyn native born and reared in Canarsie, Aristide will spend the January intersession in intensive Spanish-language instruction.

“I’m a senior and I haven’t gone away yet, so I told myself that I had to get this,” explains Aristide, who was determined to study abroad since she came to Brooklyn College and saw how many other students pursued this opportunity.

The Gilman scholarship, founded by Congress in 2000, offers grants for undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad. Such international study is intended to better prepare U.S. students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.

Aristide wants to be a doctor—a coroner or a pediatrician—and says learning Spanish will come in handy in her career. She last took Spanish in high school. “I’m practicing now with some of my Spanish-speaking friends,” she says.

The Gilman Scholarship Program is meant to broaden the student population that studies abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints. It aims to encourage students to choose nontraditional study-abroad destinations, especially those outside of Western Europe and Australia. The program supports students who have been traditionally underrepresented in study abroad, including, but not limited to, students with high financial need, diverse ethnic backgrounds, and disabilities; students in underrepresented fields such as the sciences and engineering; and community college students.