Eight Florida State University students hope to study or intern abroad this summer as part of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program from the U.S. Department of State, barring any COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The Gilman Scholarship gives students the opportunity to study or intern abroad and emphasizes learning about culture and language to prepare individuals for a globalized world.
“Despite the challenges posed to international travel by the pandemic, these students put in the added effort to make safe and feasible plans to study abroad over the coming semesters and have now secured funding to place their goals within reach,” said Jesse Wieland, assistant director of FSU’s Office of National Fellowships. “I couldn’t be prouder of our Gilman Scholars for all the hard work they put into their applications, and I’m excited to see what they accomplish during their time abroad.”
While the pandemic has impacted international travel this year, the Gilman Program is supporting scholarship recipients’ international travel plans under its usual policy, allowing students to study or intern in countries with Level 1 or Level 2 Travel Advisories only.
Alexza Alamo originally planned to use her Gilman Scholarship to take classes and experience the language and culture of Russia this summer. Due to COVID-19, Alamo now plans to study abroad in Spain with FSU International Programs.
“I never thought I’d be lucky enough to receive this prestigious award out of the many students who apply each year,” Alamo said. “But with the help and support of Jesse Wieland and FSU’s Office of National Fellowships through the process, I now see what I am capable of achieving and am beyond excited to study abroad this summer.”
Jonathan “JD” Dorsey, a sophomore studying political science, said the pandemic initially made him feel almost helpless in terms of being an active global citizen, but also as someone who has been working toward applying for the Gilman Scholarship for over two years. Dorsey will be heading to Seoul, South Korea, to take classes related to politics and international affairs.
“Since the fall of my freshman year, this was something I wanted to do,” Dorsey said. “Jesse Wieland saw that I could be a scholar before I saw it in myself.”
To Dorsey, studying abroad is more than just going to new places, it’s also about gaining a new perspective and learning from other cultures.
“It’s truly an honor to be able to go to South Korea, and it’s all because of the Gilman Foundation,” he said.
Since 2001, the Gilman Scholarship program has enabled more than 28,000 American students of diverse backgrounds to engage in a meaningful educational experience abroad. The late Congressman Gilman, for whom the scholarship is named, served in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee. He was honored with the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2002.
FSU’s Office of National Fellowships, located in the Honors, Scholars, and Fellows House, introduces students to scholarship programs they may be eligible for and helps facilitate the application process.
Students who receive federal Pell Grant funding are eligible to apply for the Gilman Scholarship. Winners receive up to $5,000 toward study abroad or internship program costs with additional funding available for the study of a critical language overseas.
For more information, visit the Office of National Fellowships at https://onf.fsu.edu/.
Florida State’s 2021 Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship winners, including hometowns, majors and where they plan to study abroad, are:
Nyla Chute, sophomore, athletic training, Fiji
Coral Springs, FL
Alex Bustamante, sophomore, information technology, South Korea
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Melissa Toussaint, sophomore, international affairs, Panama
Roshelle Thompson, sophomore, psychology, United Kingdom
Djaina-shae “DJ” Dervil, sophomore, behavioral neuroscience, Italy
Alexza Alamo, junior, psychology, Spain
Davion Jeanty, freshman, biochemistry, Panama
Jonathan “JD” Dorsey, sophomore, political science, South Korea
FSU’s four alternates this year are King Paul (Australia), Sarai Palacio (United Kingdom), Saskia Mayette (United Kingdom) and Veronica Polanco (Spain).