Gilman Scholarships Offer Chance to Explore the Globe

Deadline to apply for next round of study abroad scholarships is March 9

The Universidad San Francisco de Quito, where Ole Miss student Zach Allen plans to study this fall, is regarded as one of the top three universities in Ecuador. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Zach Allen planned to study abroad in summer 2020 and spring 2021, but the world had other plans. With travel and entry into Peru and Ecuador restricted due to COVID-19 and universities in Latin America shifting to virtual classes, Allen had to be flexible … and hopeful.

With his senior year at the University of Mississippi on the horizon, he hopes to spend a semester abroad, studying at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, known as USFQ, in Ecuador this fall.

Studying Spanish in an immersive environment is a dream come true for Allen. While at USFQ, he also has an opportunity to study Quechua, the language of the indigenous Quechua people who live across Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Colombia. As a linguistics and Spanish double major at Ole Miss, studying a lesser-known language such as Quechua informs his studies in language and culture.

Language is key to understanding the culture from which it comes, and studying both Spanish and Quechua will give Allen insight into the rich Ecuadorian and Quechuan cultures.

“USFQ is one of the top three universities in Ecuador,” said Jasmine Karlowski, adviser for Latin America in the UM Study Abroad Office. “It’s a popular destination for UM students, not only for the variety of courses offered in both Spanish and English, but also for the opportunities to study biology in the Galapagos Islands, to live with host families and to enjoy extracurricular activities sponsored by the International Office that help students adjust and integrate into Ecuadorian life.”

Allen, a junior from Picayune, has received a Gilman Scholarship, which will offset many of his costs for studying abroad in the fall.

“This scholarship truly helps the cost not be an inhibitory factor in choosing to study abroad,” Allen said. “I believe having this study abroad experience at a university as prestigious as USFQ will help my application to grad school stand out.

Zach Allen, a senior linguistics and Spanish major from Picayune, plans to use his Gilman Scholarship to study in Ecuador for the fall 2021 semester. Submitted photo

“I also believe having this experience will greatly improve my ability to speak Spanish and not just be proficient in reading and writing in Spanish.”

The Gilman Scholarship has two application cycles each year, in October and March. Eligible undergraduate students are U.S. citizens and Pell Grant recipients who are applying for credit-bearing study abroad programs.

The program also prioritizes studying in nontraditional locations and encourages underrepresented students in study abroad.

“I certainly encourage all students to apply for the Gilman Scholarship as many times as it takes,” said Allen, who was awarded the scholarship after his second application submission. “Persistence pays off.” 

Students may apply until they are awarded, but they can get the scholarship only once during their undergraduate careers.

While international travel and study abroad have additional challenges and considerations because of the pandemic, Blair McElroy, senior international officer and director of study abroad, encourages Ole Miss students to consider applying for study abroad opportunities in the future.

“Studying abroad increases intercultural competency, a skill that individuals need when working and interacting in increasingly global workplaces and environments,” McElroy said.

“The global pandemic has shown us that more than ever, the world needs people who understand globalization and topics such as pandemics, health care access and systems, international trade, climate change, global supply chains, food and water security, and sustainability in our local and global communities.”

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.

The Gilman Program also encompasses the Gilman-McCain Scholarship program, which grants scholarships for study abroad to military-connected students and location-specific Gilman scholarships in partnership with foreign governments.

The deadline to apply for the Gilman Scholarship for programs beginning in summer and fall 2021 and spring 2022 is March 9. Click here for more information or to apply.