Five Eastern Kentucky University students were awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a highly competitive study-abroad grant that receives thousands of applicants per year.
The winning Colonels were among 23 named recipients in Kentucky. It was the highest number of winners at EKU in any one year, and EKU tied with Western Kentucky University for most summer semester awards of any college or university in the state.
Named for former U.S. Rep. Benjamin Gilman, the congressionally funded program is administered by the U.S. Department of State. Around 1,000 scholarships were awarded this summer out of 5,000 students who applied throughout the country. Winners of the scholarship can receive up to $5,000 to study or intern abroad — EKU’s Gilman winners were awarded $2,000 to $3,500 each.
Winners at EKU include:
Hometown: Augusta, Kentucky
For Brookelynn Brindley, visiting Africa has been a lifelong dream. Her scholarship award was still pending a review from the U.S. Department of State, as Kenya is not a pre-approved location. However, even if she declines the award, she plans to travel to Kenya anyway.
“I’m so grateful to be a recipient and elated to be spending my summer in Kenya, and fulfilling a lifelong dream,” she said.
Hometown: London, Kentucky
Major: Biomedical science
Honors student Peyton Brock is preparing for a career as a rural physician. She is pursuing a medical internship in Thailand, which will award her academic credit. Coming from a single-parent household, finances were a concern, but the Gilman Scholarship paid for half of her trip.
“I’m so humbled to receive this award, and I look forward to seeing how this internship prepares me for my future career,” she said.
Destination: South Africa
Hometown: Versailles, Kentucky
Majors: Biomedical science/Globalization and international affairs
As an Honors student and a double major with a rigorous academic schedule, Jared Christian struggled with whether or not he should study abroad or whether he should focus on his core classes. He always wanted to visit South Africa, and the Gilman scholarship gave him the push he needed.
“Being a first-generation college student, the Gilman Scholarship will offer connections and opportunities I would have never had access to,” he said. “By studying abroad in South Africa, I can prepare myself for future humanitarian work and a position in global medicine.”
Hometown: Springfield, Kentucky
Major: Exercise and sports science
Hannah Eagle is a lover of the Spanish language. However, like most Gilman scholars, financials were a big consideration in deciding if she would ever get the chance to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country.
“The award allows me to be fully prepared for my study abroad program and alleviates all of the worries that I had,” she said.
Hometown: Frankfort, Kentucky
Major: Spanish teaching
Andrea Patino had always wanted to study in Mexico, to improve her command of the Spanish language as she pursues a career in teaching it. The scholarship will allow her to enjoy the trip instead of worrying about loans.
“Studying abroad is a great opportunity. It will help me know more about the Mexican culture and allow my Spanish to continue to improve,” she said. “In addition, it will give me a better understanding of different perspectives.”
Since its founding, the Gilman Scholarship has enabled more than 25,000 promising students of all backgrounds to experience education abroad. The program is intended to help those who might not otherwise be able to afford the trip. To be eligible, students must be an undergraduate student and a Pell grant recipient.
This year’s record number of awards at EKU was the result of a collaboration between EKU’s Office of National and International Scholarships and Fellowships and the Office of Education Abroad. Incoming Campus Coordinator for Nationally Competitive Awards and Fellowships, Dr. Randi Polk, said she is thrilled to see deserving EKU students compete for spots as Gilman Scholars.
“The great success this year comes from a combination of fantastic students, skilled mentors and the incredibly helpful team in EKU’s Education Abroad Office. Director Jennifer White and Specialist Katie Samuel go above and beyond to identify eligible students and help them identify personal stories that will help them stand out in their applications,” Polk said. “These amazing students are ready to embrace change and experience new perspectives, and that will serve them well in their future endeavors. The entire campus is excited to see the future successes of these talented students who will, no doubt, represent EKU well all over the globe.”
The Office of National and International Scholarships and Fellowships at EKU assists students with the deliberation and application process. The office offers individual advising assistance to all EKU students in determining appropriate fellowships or scholarships to pursue, coordinating application materials, selecting recommenders, preparing compelling personal statements, developing project proposals or proposed programs of study and interviewing. For more information, contact Dr. Polk at firstname.lastname@example.org.