The illustrious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program has honored five undergraduate students at Valparaiso University with awards to study abroad in spring 2014. Since 2009, 13 Valpo students have received this award.
“It’s a remarkable achievement for our students to be nationally recognized by the Benjamin A. Gilman International Program, which invested significant funding toward their education abroad,” said Julie Maddox, director of Study Abroad programs. “Five recipients is a high number in one application cycle and says a lot about the drive and ambition of our students.
“I’m thrilled for them, because I know this funding helps make possible a life-changing experience for their personal development, their academic pursuits, and their future careers.”
The five 2014 Gilman Scholarship recipients are Jon Bicanic, Tyler Clark, Alexander Grask, Carly Tolle, and Daniella Tripodis.
“I’m thankful to several faculty members who volunteered their time to encourage and mentor our students through the application process,” said Maddox. “Valparaiso University is very supportive of international education, and we want more students to take advantage of these learning opportunities.”
To help spread awareness of study-abroad opportunities, each participant is required to complete a follow-on service project aimed to promote international education, such as Grask’s video series about international views of leadership. Tripodis has proposed an art narrative project that will explore, through photography and sketches, sites throughout England that are often hidden from view and go unnoticed by tourists.
As someone who never thought he would be able to study abroad, Clark plans to use his experience to encourage students with disabilities to overcome their fears and achieve their goals. Clark was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was born three months premature, and although his doctors thought he would not be able to walk, he can now even walk short distances without crutches. He wants to show people — with and without disabilities — that anything is possible and that we are all equal, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or disability.
Sponsored by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Gilman Scholarship Program aims to diversify the students who study abroad and the countries and regions in which they study. While some students — such as engineering majors or student-athletes — may not believe study abroad fits into their rigorous schedule, programs like the Gilman Scholarship help make this possible.
“International education is one of the best tools for developing mutual understanding and building connections between people from different countries,” said Allan Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education, which administers the Gilman Scholarship Program.
The program is administered by the Institute of International Education. Gilman Scholars have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages, and economies — better equipping them to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.