UNL Global Studies major, Samantha Marcoux wanted to study abroad. But like many students, there were financial obstacles. Thanks to a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a nationally competitive scholarship awarded through the US Department of State*, Samantha was able to study in Seoul, South Korea for the 2011-2012 school year.

“I knew I wanted my time abroad to be really meaningful,” she said.

She attended the prestigious Yonsei University and stayed in the school’s international dormitory. She was able to explore the culture around her. She even saw the famous Korean artist Psy perform long before his single, “Gangnam Style” hit the charts in the United States. Overall, she said she enjoyed her time and is hoping to return.

The application process was fairly simple, she said. Marcoux was eligible for the scholarship because she was a Pell grant recipient and her chosen program was longer than four weeks. She submitted an application to UNL’s Education Abroad Office and online on the Gilman Scholarship website.

The deadline for campus registration is Feb. 15, said Brent Holliday of Education Abroad, and the deadline for the online application is March 5. Each applicant must submit two essays. One is a personal statement, discussing why a student wishes to travel to a country. The other must explain a project the student wishes to accomplish while in the foreign country or after their return that promotes the Gilman Scholarship.

Holliday said the scholarship is intended to diversify participants and the countries they travel to. He encourages students to apply for grants like the Gilman Scholarship to achieve the experience of studying abroad. “It makes your course work here richer,” he said.

Approximately one in three students who apply and plan to travel during the school year will receive funds. Money is distributed based on the length of the program. A student attending a program during the summer can receive up to $3,000. A trip extending the length of a semester can earn a student up to $4,000. And if a student plans to study abroad for a year, they can be awarded up to $5,000. Students studying a “critical-need language” like Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese, can be awarded up to $3,000 in addition.

Holliday also stated that students who wish to seek advice about travelling to other countries, or who need help revising their applications may contact Education Abroad.

Marcoux said she thinks being awarded the Gilman Scholarship has assisted her even after returning from Seoul, South Korea. She recently learned she is a finalist to receive a Fulbright grant and credits her success to the presence of grants like the Gilman Scholarship on her resume.

She said she would advise students considering education abroad and the Gilman Scholarship to not be afraid to pursue what they want.

“I always encourage people to go outside their comfort zone,” she said.

The Gilman Scholarship has sent UNL students to various countries, like Botswana, Germany, South Korea and Argentina.

Marcoux said students should ask themselves this last simple question: "What’s stopping you from being able to go?"

--Julia Peterson

For more information: Contact the Education Abroad Office at 402-472-5358 or visit the Gilman website.

*The Gilman International Scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Samantha Marcoux