Four Virginia Tech students have been selected for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, marking one of the strongest years for the university in the national scholarship program. Since 2012, Virginia Tech has produced 18 Gilman scholars.

The students, who must be Federal Pell Grant recipients to be eligible, receive up to $5,000 to study, research, or intern abroad. Those studying a language are also eligible to receive the Critical Need Language Award, which offers as much as $3,000 more.

This year’s recipients are:

After returning to the United States, all Gilman recipients must complete a service project with the goal of increasing awareness of study abroad and the scholarship on their campuses and communities.

The Gilman Scholarship is included in a concentrated effort by the Global Education Office, part of Outreach and International Affairs, to increase student awareness and competitiveness with national scholarship and fellowship opportunities.

“In collaboration with the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, we hoped to raise awareness about the Gilman Scholarship among Virginia Tech students. We’re excited to see a strong showing this year and hope that it encourages more students to apply,” said Marielle Wijnands, Global Education Office assistant director for student services.

Virginia Tech’s latest group of Gilman scholars shared their advice for preparing a successful application.

Apply early and review

“I found out about the Gilman through the Scholarships and Financial Aid Office and jumped at the opportunity. Apply as soon as possible. Don’t be hesitant. The sooner you begin, the better your application will be,” Zapata said. She will travel abroad for the first time this summer with the Interior Design in Florence, Italy program.

Tallas, who is currently at the Steger Center for International Scholarship in Switzerland as part of the Presidential Global Scholars program, echoed the same advice. “Begin the application early. Have someone read it, and, most important, take advantage of the resources Virginia Tech has to offer,” she said. Tallas, an active member of the Native at VT student organization, is from the Navajo Nation. She hopes to return from studying abroad better prepared to create programs that benefit the Navajo community.

Learn from past successes

Apart from the funding benefits, Alam recognized other advantages presented by the Gilman program. “It has a vast alumni network and career resources. For students looking to apply for the scholarship, I recommend connecting with former Gilman recipients and asking about their experiences. They know best what the scholarship reviewers are looking for,” she said. This summer, Alam, who is minoring in Arabic, will travel to Nizwa, Oman, for the VT in Oman program.

The Gilman Scholarship, named after the late Rep. Benjamin Gilman of New York, is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is implemented by the Institute for International Education.

Written by Rebecca Poutasse, a senior majoring in multimedia journalism