October 6, 2015 | News, Scholarships

BMCC student Rebekah Christie (right) taking a break in Mumbai with a host university student

BMCC student Rebekah Christie (right) taking a break in Mumbai with a student from her host university (Photo credit: Eric Claudio, BMCC)

Eight students from Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) received prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships for study abroad experiences this summer, the highest number awarded to any community college in the country. With a total of 21 awardees from both community and senior colleges heading to destinations including China, India, and Spain, CUNY has the most Gilman scholarship recipients of any university on the east coast for the summer term. This competitive national program offers grants to promising undergraduates who are traditionally under-represented in education abroad—this can include students with financial limitations, community college students, students in the sciences and engineering, students with diverse ethnic backgrounds, and students with disabilities.

“Many CUNY students consider study abroad unavailable to them for financial reasons, but those are precisely the ones who have an edge in the Gilman competition, which is designed exclusively for Pell Grant recipients and makes a special effort to make international programs available to a wider range of students,” said Lucinda Zoe, University Dean for Undergraduate Studies in CUNY’s Office of Academic Affairs. “Study abroad can be such a wonderful opportunity for academic and professional growth, and it is exciting that so many CUNY students will have that experience as Gilman recipients this summer.”

More than 1500 CUNY undergraduates study abroad each year, according to CUNY’s Office of International Education, which is part of the Office of Undergraduate Studies. The Office of International Education works with all of the campuses to internationalize the curriculum through study abroad and other global opportunities, both at home and abroad.

“This banner season for Gilman Scholarships at CUNY is a credit to the collaborative work of study abroad and fellowship advisors at many campuses, as well as faculty who supported the applicants with recommendation letters and other parts of the application,” said Kim Holland, CUNY’s International Education Manager, who emphasized that this year’s awardees benefited from the expertise and guidance of Jim Airozo, Director of Student Academic Awards and Honors, and Kate McPherson, Senior Advisor of the CUNY Baccalaureate program, who met with CUNY’s International Education Council early in the year in order to help campus study abroad advisors prepare to recruit and support student applicants.

“With all competitive scholarship opportunities, student can strengthen their chances by understanding the program’s parameters and tailoring their application,” said Airozo, noting that much useful knowledge was gained from McPherson’s service on the Gilman selection committee over the past several years. “We know that the Gilman Scholarship Program gives preference to less common study abroad destinations, that they have a growing interest in engaging community college students, and that they want to see applicants stretch themselves—for example, senior college applicants tend to fare better if they propose to study abroad for at least a semester. Our advisors put tremendous effort into educating students about these specifics and helping them make strategic choices about study abroad options, and the results are a wonderful tribute to their hard work and to the great students that CUNY is sending overseas this summer.”

In addition to BMCC’s eight awardees, thirteen students from Brooklyn College, City College, Hunter College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and the CUNY BA program also received Gilman Scholarships. Their collective success reflects CUNY’s mission to foster a culture of opportunity and ensure that New Yorkers have access to a wide range of rewarding academic opportunities.

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is funded through the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000 and is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Through a competitive application process, students can receive grants of up to $5000 to defray costs associated with studying abroad, including program tuition, room and board, books, local transportation, insurance, and international airfare.

Summer 2015 (Fall 2015 CUNY Gilman awardees here)

Erick Barksdale, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Tanzania: Exploring Arts, Culture & Society

Tiffany Benjamin, Hunter College, Spanish Language and Literature in Madrid

Latoya Bethune, Hunter College, Tanzania: Exploring Arts, Culture & Society

Troy Blackwell Jr., City College, CCNY/ULR Language, Literature and Culture Program in La Rioja, Spain

Maria Bonilla, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Spain: Hispanic Heritage

Rebekah Christie, Borough of Manhattan Community College, India: Social Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies

Sandeela Coonjbeharry, Borough of Manhattan Community College, China: Chinese Civilization and Language

Dalvin Delia, City College, CCNY Language and Culture in Senigallia, Italy

John Fleurimond, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Tanzania: Exploring Arts, Culture & Society

Ramsi Harrison, Borough of Manhattan Community College, India: Social Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies

Veronica Chin Hing, Brooklyn College, CUNY Baccalaureate, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Community Health

Linda Huang, Brooklyn College, Kyoto-Ritsumeikan University

Palakpreet Kaur, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Cultural and Psychological Theories of Self in Society: A Case Study in Bali

Cynthia Morales, Borough of Manhattan Community College, India: Social Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies

Sara-Meagan Phillips, Borough of Manhattan Community College, China: Chinese Civilization and Language

Pawel Rosanski, Borough of Manhattan Community College, China: Chinese Civilization and Language

Gabriel San Emeterio, Borough of Manhattan Community College, India: Social Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies

Edwin Sue, Brooklyn College, University of Belgrano, Argentina

Hadassah Yisrael, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Tanzania: Exploring Arts, Culture & Society