Five students receive Gilman scholarships to study abroad

contact: Margaret von Steinen
| WMU News

A record number of Western Michigan University students—five—have been awarded $18,500 in scholarships to study abroad during the 2015-16 academic year through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

Shelby Flanagan of Manistee, Andrew Laws of Jackson and Alainah Montemayor of Lansing were among about 1,000 American undergraduate students representing 332 colleges and universities across the United States selected to receive the Gilman Scholarship to study abroad during the summer 2015 semester.

Justin Clark of Woodhaven and Holly Toner of Hillsdale were among 860 American undergraduate students awarded the Gilman Scholarship to study abroad for the 2015-16 academic year.

Since its inception in 2001, more than 16,819 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. Since fall 2008, 26 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.

WMU's newest Gilman Scholars

  • Flanagan received a $3,500 Gilman Scholarship. A graduate of Manistee High School, she is a sophomore majoring in biomedical sciences. She will study in a cadaver lab in Cyprus in summer 2015. Flanagan plans to graduate from WMU in summer 2018.
  • Laws received a $2,500 Gilman Scholarship. A graduate of Michigan Center High School, he is a senior majoring in biology. He will study ceramics and Latin American dance in Turkey in summer 2015. Laws plans to graduate from WMU in fall 2015.
  • Montemayor received a $2,500 Gilman Scholarship. A graduate of Lansing Eastern High School, she is a junior majoring in public law and Spanish. She will study Spanish language in Argentina in summer 2015. Montemayor plans to graduate from WMU in spring 2017.
  • Clark received a $5,000 Gilman Scholarship. A graduate of Summit Academy North High School, he is a senior majoring in English and Arabic. He will study Arabic language in Jordan for the 2015-16 academic year. Clark plans to graduate from WMU in fall 2016.
  • Toner received a $5,000 Gilman Scholarship. A graduate of Hillsdale High School, she is a junior majoring in Japanese. She will study Japanese language and international business in Japan for the 2015-16 academic year. Toner plans to graduate from WMU in fall 2016.

Benefits of overseas study

Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation is a special experience for every student who participates, says retired U.S. Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman of New York, who sponsored the legislation creating the scholarship 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.

"International education is one of the best tools for developing mutual understanding and building connections between people from different countries," Goodman says. "It is critical to the success of American diplomacy and business, 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

The University's Gilman Scholarship recipients were advised and supported in applying for the award by personnel in the Haenicke Institute for Global Education. They are Ann Ganz, acting associate director of study abroad; Anastassia Kaml and Sakhi Vyas, study abroad specialists; and Dr. Michelle Metro-Roland, director of faculty and global program development and WMU's advisor for the Gilman program.

Students receiving a federal Pell Grant who are planning to study abroad are encouraged to visit the Institute of International Education website to learn more about the Gilman Scholarship. Eligible students interested in applying should first contact the WMU Gilman advisor at michelle.metro-roland@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5890.

For more information about WMU's study abroad programs and scholarships, visit the Study Abroad website or call (269) 387-5890.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.