Four California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) students will study abroad during the 2016-17 academic year as recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, and gain the knowledge, new perspectives, and culture that is often only acquired while living in another country.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Gilman scholarship was created to help students who study or intern abroad, and the countries they study in, become more ethnically and culturally diverse. To help them focus more on their studies while in their host countries, the scholars will receive up to $5,000 for expenses.
CSUDH’s scholarship recipients are Deborah Miller, a Human Services major who will travel to Ghana to study at the University of Ghana; Rose Muy Sanchez, women’s studies, will study at Hull University in Kingston upon Hull, England; Ivan Olivares, political science, will travel to Uppsala, Sweden, to attend classes at Uppsala University; and Tabitha Paez, a criminal justice major, who will study at Kingston University London in England. They are among 850 students from across the nation to receive Gilman scholarships this year.
“I have traveled around, but never to Africa. The University of Ghana’s social work program fits my human services degree goals,” said Miller, who will be completing the units she needs in Ghana to earn a Bachelor’s degree in social work from CSUDH. “I want to experience the country as a local, learn the language [Asante], customs and culture, and make new acquaintances, friends and colleagues.”
Named after (retired) Congressman Gilman, who chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee while serving for 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, the scholarship is available to students receiving a Federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions who will be studying abroad or participating in a career-oriented international internship for academic credit.
CSUDH’s “Strategic Plan” calls for the development of more “robust international” study abroad programs, according to Gary Rhodes, associate dean of International Education, and senior international officer in the College of Extended and International Education. During the 2014-15 academic year, only 27 CSUDH students studied abroad, but that number nearly doubled in 2015-16 to 50, said Rhodes .
“One of the critical elements in continuing to grow our study abroad numbers is funding, and one of the agencies that is important in terms of helping our students find funds is the Gilman scholarship,” said Rhodes, who also directs and brought the Center for Global Education to CSUDH when he arrived on campus in 2015. “Now we are working to increase the number of programs the university is connected to—to give our students more opportunities—and we are doing more to promote faculty-led and short-term study abroad options.”
Paez hopes that her study abroad experience will give her more perspective, well-roundedness, and the ability to better “compete in the global environment.”
“I truly feel traveling to another country, and understanding other people’s perspectives, as well as their culture, will help me grow–not only as a human, but as a human being,” said Paez. “It is extremely important for me to have a better understanding of the world around me.”