Jefferson State Students Grayson Murray (L) and Juwon Bearden were the first community college students in Alabama to ever receive the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Both students studied Spanish in Guatemala this summer.
Jefferson State Community College students Grayson Murray and Juwon Bearden were recently awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad during the summer of 2019. Murray and Bearden were the first community college students in Alabama to ever receive the scholarship and both studied Spanish in Guatemala.
“With help from the Gilman Scholarship, I had the Spanish immersion of a lifetime while having the opportunity to study in a very historic part of the world,” said Jefferson State Freshman Grayson Murray. “Seeing such a rich culture thriving in a developing country was eye-opening. This opportunity not only taught me language skills, but also cross-cultural awareness and self-reliance.”
Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs with additional funding available for the study of a critical language overseas. The Gilman Scholarship supports American undergraduate students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad and, since 2001, has enabled more than 25,000 outstanding Americans of diverse backgrounds to engage in a meaningful educational experience abroad. The program has successfully broadened U.S. participation in study abroad, while emphasizing countries and regions where fewer Americans traditionally study.
“There were so many breathtaking moments throughout the trip,” said Jefferson State Sophomore Juwon Bearden. “Everything was new and welcoming; it was an amazing opportunity. My host mom lived right next to a basketball court and I was able to play with the locals, which was something I really looked forward to doing. My two roommates were students from Puerto Rico, which was very helpful. That made the experience feel more authentic in a way. Without the scholarship from Gilman, none of this would have been possible for me. I would not have been able to do some unforgettable things.”
Jefferson State held a reception recently to honor the scholarship recipients. Pictured are (L to R) Jefferson State President Keith Brown, Juwon Bearden, Grayson Murray, JSCC’s Coordinator of International Student Services Stacye Thompson, and JSCC Spanish Instructor Shay Culbertson.
The program particularly focuses on supporting first-generation college students, students in the STEM fields, ethnic and racial minority students, students with disabilities, students who are veterans, students attending community colleges and minority serving institutions, and other populations underrepresented in study abroad, as well as broadening the destinations where scholars study or intern.
“The Gilman Program aims to make study abroad, and its career advantages, more accessible and inclusive for American students,” said Heidi Manley, the Chief of USA Study Abroad at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. “These diverse American students gain critical skills overseas that expand their career options and ability to make an impact in their home communities.”
While studying Spanish in Guatemala, Jefferson State students also learned history, cultural awareness and self-reliance.
The Gilman Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education (IIE).
This content was originally published here.