Jackson State University students Leo Harris and Talia Colas have each been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad this summer. Over 2,600 students applied to be one of 500 recipients of the award.
The Gilman scholarship program offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad. The program is intended to better prepare U.S. students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world. Award amounts vary depending on the length of study and student need with the average award being approximately $4,000.
Harris, a 28-year-old biology/pre-medicine major from St. Louis, will receive an award of $2,000 to study in Nicaragua for eight weeks.
“I am excited and extremely thankful,” said Harris, who aspires to become a medical doctor specializing in cardiothoracic surgery. “I chose Nicaragua because I had more opportunities that pertained to my career goal. Not only will I be working towards a minor in Spanish, but I will be able to volunteer at a local clinic and shadow a doctor, which is a pretty big deal to any potential medical student.”
Colas, a 25-year-old foreign language and political science major, will spend
12 weeks in Tunisia after receiving a $4,000 award through the Gilman program.
“I am extremely grateful to received the award,” said Colas, who arrived in the United States at age 16 as a political refugee from Cuba. “I chose Tunisia because I wanted to learn Arabic and practice French, and Tunisians speak both languages. Also, as a political science student, my ultimate career goal is to become an international human rights lawyer and a cultural anthropologist. I want to thank all those who made it possible for me to receive the award and participate in study abroad, especially Yolanda Davis (Study Abroad Coordinator in the JSU Division of International Studies).”
Also, a third JSU student, Felicia Taylor, was awarded an alternate scholarship by the program. In the case that one of the 500 awardees doesn’t claim or can’t use their Gilman scholarship, Taylor will receive a $1,500 award.