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June 27, 2013

Cleveland State students win study abroad scholarship

By Doug Vehovec

The Gilman Scholarship Program, established in 2000, offers undergraduate awards for study abroad to students receiving Federal Pell Grants. This summer Cleveland State University boasted four winners of the scholarship.

“The Gilman is one of a few national competitions funded by the U.S. government,” said Julie Good, education abroad manager for the Center for International Services and Programs at Cleveland State. “This is a program that’s dedicated to helping low-income students access study abroad opportunities that might otherwise be closed to them.”

The summer 2013 winners from Cleveland State are Marcella Johnson, a communication management major studying in Berlin, Germany; Shannon Johnson, a finance major studying in Beijing, China; Samantha Kash, a health sciences major studying in Amman, Jordan; and Monica Ward, an international relations major studying in Rabat, Morocco.

Part of the application process for students is writing two essays. The statement of purpose essay is the applicant’s chance to personalize their submission by addressing the impact that study abroad will have on their goals. A follow-on service project proposal essay explains how the student will inspire others to pursue their own experience abroad.

“This opportunity means different things to me at different times,” said Marcella Johnson, one of the winners. “It has provided so many layers of different experiences. I intend to use this knowledge in my career and to improve the lives of others in my community.”

Mu'id Ghani, fall 2013 Gilman Scholarship winnerAccording to the scholarship’s founder, retired New York congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, that community is an international one. With a stated goal of diversifying students’ education, the program seeks to prepare them for the global economy.

Speaking at a 2011 gathering of university presidents, advisers and Gilman International Scholarship alumni, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson explained that diversity has been a pillar of the program since its inception.

“Gilman scholars pursue different academic interests, travel to different destinations around the world, come from different cities and states and very different communities in those cities and states and represent every

different type of academic institution,” Carson said. “All of these things represent the broad and important diversity of the United States.”

Another Cleveland State student, Mu’id Ghani, was recently awarded the Gilman Scholarship for the fall semester. Ghani, an international relations major, will be studying in Costa Rica at the Universidad Veritas. He leaves for his trip abroad on July 7.

“Without that scholarship I really wasn’t going to be able to make it,” Ghani said. “My last course they allowed me to take in Costa Rica. I graduate when I come back from my trip in August.

“In college, this is the only time a person will have the opportunity to do this for a reason other than work. Everybody that’s a CSU student has that opportunity and should at least try it.”

Johnson echoes Ghani’s encouragement for any students thinking about studying abroad. She also offers some practical advice for those thinking about the possibilities.

“Plan ahead, apply for many scholarships and research the host country,” Johnson said. “Make sure the classes you take are relevant to your major and will count towards graduation. Studying abroad is a life-enriching experience that should be shared.”

Any Cleveland State students curious about study abroad programs should contact the Center for International Services and Programs in the Main Classroom building.