Jasmine Ayers and An Nguyen are two of over 850 American undergraduate students from 359 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to study or intern abroad during the spring 2017 term.
Jasmine Ayers will study abroad on an exchange program at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Jasmine is a first-generation student, a Thompson Learning Center (TLC) scholar, and studies Psychology at UNO. Jasmine says she hopes to come back completely changed, and that as a child she could never have imagined having this experience.
An Nguyen will spend his semester studying abroad on exchange at the University of Coimbra in Coimbra, Portugal. An is a first-generation student, a Goodrich scholar, a Noyce Scholar, and studies Secondary Education and Mathematics. An also spent summer 2016 on the faculty-led History in Europe study abroad program in Italy.
"I chose Portugal because it is a non-English speaking country; I have to get out of my comfort zone, and it provides a great environment for me to learn a new language," he explains.
Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs. The program offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies or credit-bearing, career-oriented internships abroad. Such international exchange is intended to better prepare U.S. students to thrive in the global economy and interdependent world. Students receiving a Federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions who will be studying abroad or participating in a career-oriented international internship for academic credit are eligible to apply. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages, and economies -- making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.
Congressman Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee, commented, “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”
The program is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE). The full list of students who have been selected to receive Gilman Scholarships, including students’ home state, university and host country, is available on their website: www.iie.org/gilman. According to Allan Goodman, President and CEO of IIE, “International education is one of the best tools for developing mutual understanding and building connections between people from different countries. It is critical to the success of American diplomacy and business, and the lasting ties that Americans make during their international studies are important to our country in times of conflict as well as times of peace.”
The University of Coimbra and Masaryk University are both members of the MAUI-Utrecht network, a consortium of mid-American and European universities that support international exchange. The University of Nebraska at Omaha has thriving relationships with universities around the world which facilitate such exchange, allowing students to pay home tuition while attending a partner university.