This academic year, 15 St. Lawrence students were awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships, marking the largest cohort of Gilman scholars in St. Lawrence history. Funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, this program will support students’ opportunities to study and pursue internships and research abroad over the next year.
Every year, St. Lawrence provides nearly $500,000 in additional funds to students thanks to generous alumni donations and prestigious grants. This year, Gilman Scholarship awards ranged from $3,000 to $5,000 per student with a total award amount worth $57,000 to St. Lawrence to fund exploration and discovery in Austria, Australia, Costa Rica, Kenya, London, New Zealand, Spain, and Thailand.
“Between 2015 and 2022, only 15 students were awarded a Gilman scholarship. This one year equals the past seven combined,” says Hanson Associate Dean of International and Intercultural Studies and History Professor Matt Carotenuto. “To receive $57,000 in combined support from a prestigious federal scholarship program is a clear marker of success for our talented student winners. It also demonstrates the University’s well-earned reputation as a national leader among liberal arts colleges in international and intercultural education.”
Gilman scholarship award recipient Nina Spinney ‘25 will be studying abroad in Vienna, Austria, during the Spring 2024 semester. Traveling to Austria has been a goal of hers since childhood and her interest in the region has only deepened while studying current events at St. Lawrence. Support from the Gilman Program will allow Nina to make the most of her time in Austria, affording her opportunities to travel throughout the country and immerse herself in the culture of her temporary home.
“As a government major with philosophy and sociology minors, I am very interested in exploring and understanding the current socio-political climate in Austria in response to the ongoing Ukrainian refugee crisis,” Nina says. “I explored this topic in depth this past semester in my European Studies class, but I would love to investigate the issue firsthand while abroad by possibly working with volunteer organizations aiding in the asylum-seeking process.”
To be eligible for the Gilman Program, applicants must be receiving a Federal Pell Grant during the time of application or provide proof that they will be receiving a Pell Grant during the term of their study abroad program or internship.
The application process is highly competitive. It requires a series of essays that ask applicants to detail their intended purpose and goals for the time they spend immersed in communities abroad. Applicants must demonstrate their desire to build mutual understanding, foster meaningful relationships, and become more culturally engaged. They must also illustrate plans for a project they’ll complete upon their return to campus. It’s a comprehensive checklist, and Carotenuto says University staff played a major role in the landmark success of this year’s applicants.
“We strive to remove as many financial barriers as possible to ensure every qualified student has an opportunity to study off-campus,” says Carotenuto. “Director of Off-Campus Study Caitlin Hatz, Assistant Director Kim Longfellow, and staff from the academic advising office held workshops, read student drafts, and encouraged eligible students to apply. Student applicants worked tirelessly through many drafts of their application essays and truly shined on a national stage.”
“The Center for International and Intercultural Studies office works hard to make off-campus study accessible for all students. Providing mentorship and advising through the Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship is just one facet of this strategy,” adds Hatz. “By providing students with extra funding, it can secure a students’ decision to participate in an immersive experience, previously seen as ‘extra’.”