Academics & Research

Overlooked students given a spotlight with study abroad scholarship

As the new semester starts up this spring, so does a semester abroad for select students.

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which is offered to U.S. students with financial need to help them study or intern abroad, was offered to four UH students for Spring 2014. Economics and political science senior Osiris Hererra, hotel and restaurant management junior Jennifer Mitcham, Chinese studies major Ryan Schomburg and hotel and restaurant management junior Christina Tran will be studying in countries such as China and France this spring.

“My dream since I was a kid was to travel around the world and get to know different cultures and learn from them, not just from textbooks, but through real interaction with people,” Hererra said.

The program awards an average of $4,000 each to 2,300 students nationwide every academic year and emphasizes what students will gain from the experience during the application process.

“I wanted to gain more experience in working hands-on with pastry. Since the Hilton College does not offer many culinary-geared courses, I looked into studying abroad to further enhance (my) future career. I chose Italy because I am intrigued by Italian cuisine. I can’t wait to learn how to make Italian breads and pastries,” Tran said. “I am hoping to return to the States as a positively influenced student who now knows the traditional techniques to Italian baking and pastry.”

According to the official website, the Gilman scholarship supports students with high financial need, disabilities and students from different ethnic backgrounds and types of institutions. Financial need is the emphasis, though, as the website states that the program, which is funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, is intended to enlighten students who study and intern abroad by supporting undergraduates who might otherwise not participate because of financial constraints.

“The main thing that I really want to get out of (studying abroad) is putting myself in a place I’ve never been and experiencing things I’ve never experienced, because I feel like while we’re in our comfort zone, we’re kind of just used to one idea and one thing,” Mitcham said.

“Eventually, while we’re here in the U.S., you kind of have this one concept of what it’s like in business or whatever you are, and so to be able to place yourself in a new environment that you’ve never been in, in a place that speaks a language you don’t know, it kind of challenges you as a person to prepare yourself for going out in the world.”

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