UO ranks second in the nation for Gilman Scholarships

The Reichstag building in Berlin

Thirty University of Oregon students have been named as recipients of the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, shattering the school record for selections in one year and pushing the university to No. 2 in the overall 2021 national rankings.

The Gilman scholarship is one of the most competitive national scholarships, funding study and internship abroad opportunities for undergraduate students. Its goal is to make opportunities accessible for all students, but especially those who come from underrepresented groups and have high financial need. Gilman offers awards up to $5,000 for undergraduate students who are currently receiving federal Pell grants.

“We are deeply committed to all UO students getting a global education, and finances should not be an obstacle,” said Dennis Galvan, dean and vice provost for the Division of Global Engagement. “The Gilman awards open wonderful opportunities for students to have access to that experience.”

Two of the students, Chester Mantel and Leighanna Huston, also were chosen for the highly competitive Critical Need Language Award, a supplemental award of up to $3,000 for Gilman scholarship recipients who are studying languages that are important to U.S. national security.

UO reached the No. 2 spot for universities across the nation with Gilman recipients. The University of Notre Dame edged out UO to finish in the top spot with 36 award winners.

Galvan emphasized the importance of global education as a transformative and empowering experience. Studying abroad allows students to reflect on their place in the world, gain cross-cultural sensitivity and become career ready, he said.

Global Education Oregon, or GEO, the study abroad-focused unit in the Division of Global Engagement, offers approximately 300 programs in more than 90 countries.

“To be one of the universities with the highest number of recipients is a truly wonderful achievement,” said Luis Ruiz, GEO’s assistant director for analytics and student success. “It speaks to the excellent work that our remarkable students put forth in pursing a global education.”

Last year, UO set a record when 25 students received Gilman scholarships, Ruiz said. He added that the national acceptance rate for the Gilman Scholarship is roughly 23 percent. For the current 2021 application cycle, 86 percent of UO students were accepted.

Avery Smith, a second-year environmental science student, credits GEO and UO faculty with helping make her dream of visiting Japan a reality.

“I always had the idea of going abroad to Japan in the back of my mind, but I never thought it could actually happen,” said Smith. “Japanese language and culture turned into something more than just a fun class to take, and the Gilman Scholarship allows me to explore that path even further.”

The Gilman made the opportunity of an internship in Barcelona possible for fourth-year public relations student Elizabeth Salathe.

“Not only will I achieve my dreams of furthering my career abroad, but it also allowed me, a first-generation college student, to inspire others with similar backgrounds,” Salathe said.

The 2021 Gilman Scholarship recipients, their majors and programs are:

  • Enam Albustami, junior, political science, CIEE: Advanced Arabic in Amman.
  • Nelson Aricha, junior, general social science, GlobalWorks Internship in France.
  • Mariah Botkin, junior, journalism and comparative literature, cross-border interviewing and story development in Spain.
  • Sedonah Breech, senior, interior architecture, DIS: Copenhagen.
  • Britney Cao, junior, product design, GlobalWorks Internship in Japan.
  • Rui Chen, junior, accounting, GlobalWorks Internship in Japan.
  • Chelbi Cook, sophomore, biochemistry, arctic studies in Svalbard.
  • Alayna Elggren, junior, women, gender and sexuality studies, French immersion in Angers.
  • Delilah Galli, junior, Spanish and global studies, virtual internship in Bolivia.
  • Kimberly Gaw, sophomore, advertising, art history in London.
  • Sean Gley, junior, Spanish and family and human services, Spanish language and culture in Segovia.
  • Adriana Grant, junior, political science and sociology, politics in London.
  • Ramon Hernandez, junior, journalism and political science, IE3: Baden-Wurttemberg Exchange.
  • Leighanna Huston, junior, Spanish, Nagoya University Exchange.
  • Chester Mantel, sophomore, physics and mathematics, Summer Chinese Flagship Program in Taiwan.
  • Rubby Marquez Tellez, junior, Spanish and advertising, Hispanic Heritage in Oviedo.
  • Mallory McGowan, junior, business administration, wine marketing in Italy.
  • Jennifer Mendez, junior, advertising and public relations, Spanish language and culture in Segovia.
  • Kenny Nguyen, junior, computer and information science, GlobalWorks Internship in Japan.
  • Kazia Nowina-Sapinski, junior, political science, IE3: Lyon Exchange.
  • Wendy Palafox-Arceo, junior, psychology and Spanish, psychology in Barcelona.
  • Sophie Rowan, junior, art and technology, GlobalWorks Internship in France.
  • Elizabeth Salathe, senior, public relations, GlobalWorks Internship in Spain.
  • Avery Smith, sophomore, environmental science, Senshu University Exchange.
  • Skee Springman, junior, public relations, GlobalWorks Internship in Japan.
  • Xitlali Torres, junior, planning, public policy and management, Spanish language in Oviedo.
  • Lily Valenta, sophomore, global studies, IE3: Lyon Exchange.
  • Jalon Watts, junior, cinema studies, cinema studies in Dublin.
  • Olivia Wilkinson, junior, history and folklore and public culture, USAC: Irish cultural studies in Galway.
  • McKenna Williams, freshman, anthropology, archaeology in Palau.

In order for the funds to be disbursed, students must be traveling to a country that is categorized by the U.S. State Department travel advisory as risk level 1 or level 2 by the program start date. If the country is at risk level 3 or level 4, students can adjust to a virtual program, or modify their start date, as long as the program begins by April 30, 2022.

—By Kaitlyn Jimenez, University Communications