Applying to the Gilman Scholarship: My journey towards Studying Abroad
By: Priyanka Surio

Namaste means Welcome in Hindi. It can also refer to the beginning of my journey as a Gilman Scholar applicant for studying abroad pursuits.

I am currently a junior pre-med student majoring in Biology with minors in Political Science, Chemistry, and Spanish. Up until this summer, studying abroad seemed like an urban legend to me because I simply did not see the availability to pursue it being a pre-med student with such rigorous and inflexible science coursework built into my four years of undergraduate study. But then the unthinkable happened; I met with my advisor and we discussed that I only had one class left to take for my pre-medical and Biology major requirements. This summer seemed perfect to go study abroad; not only would I be allowed the opportunity to explore my heritage but I would also be taking classes relevant to my minor and cultural understanding. I would be enrolled in two courses with the option of interning or volunteering in the community.

There are several courses offered through the program I am applying for that deal with contemporary and Indian society as well as political thought. Another course offered is beginning Hindi, and being half-Indian, I feel that it would be a great opportunity for me to learn my father’s language.

Only one additional obstacle still pervades in this paradise of a plan; finances. Upon meeting with the Study Abroad office I discovered the plethora of scholarship opportunities available especially for minorities with financial need. The Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship especially caught my attention because it offered scholarships not only during regular semesters, but for summer programs as well. The Gilman also targeted non-traditional study abroad majors who were wishing to travel to non-traditional places, and as an added bonus even offered extra critical language need scholarships for those studying critical need languages such as Hindi.

I had all the resources in hand like a box of nails and all I needed to do was hammer them in place to create the object of my pursuit. I had to meet with several offices on campus that helped make this happen; including the Biology Department, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Toppel Career Center, the Study Abroad Office, and the Financial Aid Office. I had to keep regular contact with both the Gilman staff and my program of interest staff, which was helpful whenever I had concerns or questions.

The Toppel Career Center specifically helped me with organizing my resume to the experiences that would market me best, along with providing valuable feedback on my statement of purpose for the Gilman and study abroad program of interest. I have already gotten accepted to the study abroad program in India, so the only thing left to do now is wait, and hope I am selected as a scholarship recipient.