Studying Abroad as a Gilman Scholar by Abigail Martuscello

This time last year, I was filling out scholarship applications like there was no tomorrow. Between juggling classwork during the week, waking up early on weekends, and dedicating substantial amounts of time during CofC’s Fall Break – I knew if I wanted to make my dream of studying abroad a reality I needed to secure as much financial aid as possible. I took advantage of some of CofC’s departmental scholarships as well as the CIE’s, but I also decided I was going to throw my hat into the nationally competitive scholarship ring. I had heard about the Gilman scholarship through a friend a couple of years ago and it intrigued me, as it was sponsored by the State Department and took interest in students who were pell grant eligible and studying abroad in non-traditional locations. As I began digging into the application process, my academic advisor recommended I connect with Dr. Collins-Frolich at the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. Now, I consider myself a decent writer, but I know for sure that having the support of Dr. C-F made my application stand out. To apply for the scholarship, one needs to have a strong grasp on why studying abroad will support one’s academic, personal, and future pursuits. You have to convince the reviewers that your time abroad is not just for the sheer pleasure of it, but that this experience is integral to your academic development. Being a Political Science student with interest in Jewish studies and the Middle East, I had the building blocks of a good case, but by talking to Dr. C-F I was able to flesh out a substantial argument as to why I needed to be in Israel to study. Taking this, we spent the next month and a half sending drafts back and forth, editing, expanding, and developing ideas that ultimately made me a 2019 Gilman recipient and the only applicant from CofC. If you are Pell grant eligible and are studying in a place that is non-traditional (the context can vary, so discuss with your study abroad advisor) apply for the Gilman Scholarship. There is no reason not to, especially with the support offered at the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. Not only will you have additional funds to use towards your study abroad experience and get to call yourself a recipient of a nationally competitive award, but you will be connected to a vast network of alumni to support you in your future endeavors. And, if you are like me and are considering a government job in the future, you will be pleased to know that being a Gilman scholar offers you non-competitive eligibility for government jobs which essentially means that you are a substantially more attractive hire as you have already been vetted for certain skill sets. Studying abroad is an opportunity that every student deserves. If you are a student like me who needed financial support to realize this dream, take advantage of all scholarship opportunities – especially the Gilman!

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