Engineering Student Heads to Japan with Gilman Scholarship

Benjamin Mighall to study at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto

Benjamin Mighall, a senior electrical engineering major at the University of Mississippi, plans to spend his fall 2019 semester studying in Japan after winning a prestigious 2019 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi student plans to spend his fall 2019 semester studying in Japan, thanks to a prestigious international scholarship program.

Benjamin Mighall, of La Crosse, Wisconsin, is the recipient of a 2019 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The senior electrical engineering major will travel to Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, where he is set to study Japanese language, culture and history.

“I was absolutely shocked when I was notified that I received the scholarship,” said Mighall, noting that this will be his first time traveling outside the United States. “This experience is going to be one of the most unique and memorable periods of my entire life.

“Having the university and the Gilman Scholarship facilitate this opportunity for me to grow my language skills and acquire international experience means more than I can say.”

Mighall is a model for any college student who wants to study abroad but perhaps thinks it’s unaffordable, said Blair McElroy, director of the UM Study Abroad program.

“Ben has chosen an exchange program where he pays UM tuition to study in Japan,” she said. “He has earned this prestigious scholarship to cover expenses for his semester in Japan, in addition to choosing a cost-effective way to study abroad.”

More students should know that studying abroad is within reach financially, McElroy said.

“Most financial aid and scholarships apply to UM study abroad program costs,” she said. “Additional scholarships, like the Gilman, can offset expenses, make up for missing work at home and give students additional funds to explore their country of study.”

Mighall, who will live in Japan from September through mid-February, anticipates that studying intensive Japanese at Ritsumeikan will be a difficult, yet rewarding, program.

“I’ll be hopefully making friends with Japanese students as well as my fellow exchange students, and using my nights and weekends to explore Kyoto and the surrounding area,” he said.

“Also, Osaka has this dish called okonomiyaki that I’ve only had once before. It was amazing. That’s the first thing I plan to get after I move into my dormitory.”

Mighall’s plans include seeking a doctorate in computer science and becoming a software developer. He hopes to visit some graduate schools while in Japan.

“Japan has many great employers and universities, and many U.S. universities have research relationships with their Japanese counterparts,” he said. “There will certainly be both academic and employment opportunities for me if I make the most of my time overseas.”

McElroy encouraged other Ole Miss students to consider applying for study abroad opportunities.

“Studying abroad increases intercultural competency, a soft skill that people need when working and interacting in increasingly global workplaces and environments,” she said. “It also aligns with our strategic plan in that study abroad creates global citizens, who are part of a world community, realize their place within it and effect positive change for others.”

The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, thereby gaining skills critical to our national security and economic prosperity. The Institute of International Education has administered the program since its inception in 2001.

For more information about the UM Study Abroad program, go to or call 662-915-6597.