KALAMAZOO—Three Western Michigan University students have won a total of $13,500 in scholarships to study foreign languages overseas during the 2013-14 academic year.
Stephanie Stanfield of Bellevue, Mich.; Jared Sipes of Kalamazoo; and Matthew Dziepak of Mattawan, Mich., were among 800 outstanding undergraduate students selected from a nationwide pool of nearly 2,000 applicants to receive awards from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.
Since its inception in 2001, more than 13,000 students from across the nation have received the prestigious Gilman Scholarship, which provides up to $5,000 for American students to pursue overseas study for college credit. To date, 12 WMU students have received the award.
The scholarship program helps diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go. It is administered by the Institute of International Education and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
University's newest Gilman Scholars
Stanfield received a $3,500 Gilman Scholarship. A graduate of Bellevue High School, she is a junior majoring in social work and minoring in nonprofit leadership. She plans to take Latin American studies and Spanish courses in the Dominican Republic at Pontifical Catholic University Madre y Maestra in Santiago de los Caballeros. Stanfield sits on the executive board of WMU's Dominican Student Organization and was awarded the Michigan Campus Compact Heart and Soul Award earlier this year.
Sipes received a $5,000 Gilman Scholarship. A graduate of Bangor (Mich.) High School, he is a senior majoring in global and international studies and minoring in Russian. He plans to continue his Russian language studies at Saratov State University in Saratov, Russia.
Dziepak received a $5,000 Gilman Scholarship. A graduate of Heritage Christian Academy in Kalamazoo, he is a senior majoring in film, video and media studies and minoring in psychology and Japanese. He intends to take part in an intensive Japanese language program at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.
Benefits of studying overseas
Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation is a special experience for every student who participates in the Gilman Scholarship Program, says retired U.S. Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman of New York, who sponsored the legislation creating the program that now bears his name.
"(It) not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience," Gilman says. "It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community."
Allan Goodman, president of the Institute of International Education, adds that the returning students are better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.
"It is critical to the success of American diplomacy and business," Goodman says, "and the lasting ties that Americans make during their international studies are important to our country in times of conflict as well as times of peace."
Assistance provided by WMU
Stanfield, Sipes and Dziepak were advised and supported in applying for the Gilman Scholarship by Anastasia Kaml, Ann Ganz and Sakhi Vyas, their WMU study abroad specialists, and Dr. Michelle Metro-Roland, WMU advisor for the Gilman program and director of faculty and global program development in the University's Haenicke Institute for Global Education.
Students receiving a federal Pell Grant who are planning to study abroad are encouraged to visit iie.org/gilman to learn more about the scholarship. Eligible students interested in applying should first contact the WMU Gilman advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org or (269) 387-5890.
For more information about WMU's study abroad programs and scholarships, visit wmich.edu/studyabroad or call (269) 387-5890.