The George Washington University was recently recognized as second in the country for the number of students receiving Benjamin Gilman International Scholarships for the spring semester.
Twenty-one students will receive a total of $96,500 in scholarship funds from the program, available to undergraduate students who receive Pell Grants or demonstrate financial need. George Washington is second to the University of California, Berkeley, for number of awardees.
“Students often cite finances as one of the biggest barriers to studying abroad,” said Director of Study Abroad Robert Hallworth. “Generous scholarships like the Gilman provide additional resources for a targeted group of talented students. The scholarship helps diversify the study abroad community and affords students the opportunity to gain international competencies that are crucial in today’s world.”
With 21 scholarships this spring, the university has almost doubled the number of Gilman scholarships awarded since 2006. Mr. Hallworth said this increase is in large part due to the active recruitment efforts of Study Abroad Adviser Taylor Wood and senior Fawziyya Muhammad, who received the scholarship in 2011. Mr. Hallworth said his staff implemented mandatory advising for Pell Grant students to educate them about the scholarship, walked students through the application process and reviewed application essays.
“Taylor, Fawziyya and the advisers in the office made great efforts to make sure that students were aware of, and prepared to apply for, these scholarships and the results speak for themselves,” said Mr. Hallworth.
Study abroad is a popular choice for GW students, said Mr. Hallworth, because the university is a “globally minded institution.”
“Many of our students are considering internationally focused careers. They realize the impact that study abroad and a wider perspective can have on enriching their education,” he said.
Junior Marie Paoli will travel to Valparaiso, Chile on her scholarship to study issues of cultural identity, social justice and community development.
“I will spend a good amount of my time working in the field, staying for two weeks with an indigenous family and conducting independent research for the last eight weeks of my time there,” she said. “None of this would be possible without the Gilman scholarship, so I feel very lucky.”
Ms. Muhammad, who traveled to China on her scholarship, said George Washington’s Office for Study Abroad helps students realize their dreams of international study and travel.
“There are several perceived barriers to studying abroad, and the office helps to dispel those myths we may actually or think we face,” she said. “They help us choose the best programs and provide support while we are abroad. In every step, they help to ensure that students’ experiences abroad are positive. And it’s those students who have positive experiences who are eager to share them with others when they return.”