By Ellie Schuckman
Two students at the College were recently honored with Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships, enabling them to study abroad at destinations of their choice.
Junior finance major Ting Yang and sophomore health and exercise science major Sami Karmeh received the awards for the current Spring 2016 semester and are studying abroad in China and Australia, respectively.
“It is very valuable to me that I won (the) Gilman scholarship to study abroad,” Karmeh said. “Gilman represents an outstanding example of how there are opportunities for students to achieve their goal of going abroad.”
Karmeh won a $4,500 grant to study abroad at the College’s exchange program at the University of Newcastle in Australia, taking mostly liberal learning classes. Karmeh, who first heard about the Gilman scholarship from the College’s study abroad office, said he found out he won the scholarship after receiving a congratulatory email from the dean of his department. He then checked his personal email and discovered he was, in fact, a recipient of the scholarship.
“This experience will show me how medicine is practiced in other parts of the world,” Karmeh said in a TCNJ Today article from Thursday, Dec. 17.
Yang, who was unable to be reached for comment, was granted an $8,000 Critical Need Language Award to help fund her semester at Peking University in Beijing, China, according to the same article. Enrolled in the Advanced Chinese Studies program, her classes will be taught in Mandarin.
According to the Gilman scholarship website, only a select few are awarded the $8,000 grant, which is given strictly to those “studying a critical need language while abroad in a country in which the language is predominantly spoken.” During the 2013-14 academic year, only 60 Critical Need Language Awards were given, according to the site.
“The Gilman Scholarship is an important award from the federal government to promote wider participation in academic study abroad programs throughout the United States,” Senior International Officer and Director of Global Engagement Jon Stauff said. “The Gilman program removes the biggest obstacle between these students and a study abroad experience — adequate finances. TCNJ already allows its financial aid and scholarship packages to support a number of study abroad programs throughout the world, but the Gilman Scholarship opens additional options to students and goes a long way toward replacing lost income from part-time jobs and those extra expenses associated with study abroad.”
The scholarship, named after former U.S. House of Representative Ben Gilman, is offered every semester and aimed at relieving some of the financial burden of studying abroad. To apply, students must be in good academic standing and be collecting a Pell Grant — a federal program that provides grants to low-income undergraduate students.
According to Stauff, on average, one to two students from the College have won Gilman scholarships each semester over the past five years to make for a 50 percent acceptance rate for students at the College— higher than the national average.
“Study abroad provides students not only with rich academic experiences in classrooms abroad, but also a variety of life experiences — meeting people from other countries and working together with them toward shared goals, learning how to get from point A to point B in another language or culture and discovering a lot about oneself in the process — all of which may be transferred to senior capstone assignments, first jobs, graduate schools and life in general,” Stauff said.