Texas State students awarded Gilman study abroad scholarships

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
July 27, 2007

Two Texas State University-San Marcos students, Martha Bitar of Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico, and Kye Lee of Austin, have been awarded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to study abroad.

Bitar, an international studies major, will study this fall in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, through the American University in Dubai.

“Winning this award means opportunity to me,” Bitar said. “This is an opportunity to represent a rapidly growing minority in the 'Arab World,' an opportunity to interact with a culture that is completely different, where dress and conduct codes are practically the opposite of the culture that I am used to, an opportunity to gain a better understanding of U.S.-Arab relations, and to expand my language skills by living in a place where I will be surrounded by the language.”

Lee, a Spanish major, is participating through the collaborative program between Texas State and Universitas Castellae in Valladolid, Spain.

“The Gilman scholarship opened the door to this amazing study abroad opportunity in Spain in the fall. Though I have always wanted to study abroad in a Spanish speaking country, the cost of attending school overseas was a major factor, which led me to postpone studies until now,” Lee said. “Not only was the scholarship a great encouragement to become an open-minded culture seeker, it motivated me to continue to seek opportunities post graduation through other well-known international scholarships such as the Fulbright scholarship. I look forward to a different way of learning and honing my skills in Spanish to become a better and more qualified foreign language teacher and a cultural ambassador.”

The scholarship program offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad. The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs sponsors the scholarship. The Institute of International Education (IIE) administers the program through its Southern Regional Center in Houston.

The program is designed to support students who have been traditionally under-represented in study abroad, including but not limited to, students with high financial need, community college students, students in under-represented fields such as the sciences and engineering, students with diverse ethnic backgrounds, and students with disabilities. Students must qualify for federal Pell Grant funding at two-year or four-year colleges or universities to be eligible to apply. Award recipients are chosen by a competitive selection process and must use the award to defray eligible study abroad costs. Award amounts vary depending on the length of study and student need with the average award being $4,000.

For information about the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program contact the Texas State Study Abroad Office or visit the IIE web site at: http://www.iie.org/programs/gilman/index.html.