Fifteen students from eight different CUNY colleges were awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for study abroad this fall, a record number of recipients for fall semester for CUNY. Students from Baruch College, Borough of Manhattan Community College, City College, the College of Staten Island, Hunter College, John Jay College, Lehman College, and Queens College, will continue their studies in foreign countries as varied as South Korea, France, Spain, Uganda, Singapore, Italy, China, Costa Rica, and Japan.
The Gilman Scholarship is a national competitive program which 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.
“All too often, study abroad can be cost-prohibitive for students, but the Gilman competition is designed specifically to make international programs available to Pell Grant recipients. In recent years, this scholarship program has benefited many CUNY students who would not otherwise have been able to travel overseas and experience different cultures and academic settings that can inspire new interests and perspectives,” said Lucinda Zoe, University Dean for Undergraduate Studies in CUNY’s Office of Academic Affairs. “We are delighted that another cohort of deserving CUNY students will have the opportunity to study abroad this fall, thanks to the Gilman Scholarship.”
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.
Jim Airozo, who served as University Director of Academic Awards and Honors until retiring in June 2016, notes that successful applicants are often those who familiarize themselves with the program’s key components and plan ahead to make their applications strong and targeted. “Our advisors aim to educate students about the Gilman Scholarship Program, so that they understand its competitive nature and ways that they can optimize their chances of receiving a scholarship,” he said. For example, community college students have been a focus of the program in recent years, especially for short term and summer programs, and senior college applicants tend to fare better if they aim to study abroad for at least a full semester. Airozo adds that students should utilize the expertise of advisors, who can provide invaluable guidance on study abroad options and strategic ways of strengthening applications.
Students should also check out tips for a successful application from Elenore Zuniga, a Hunter/CUNY BA student who studied abroad in Costa Rica in spring 2015 with a Gilman scholarship.
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.