LUBBOCK, Texas (PRESS RELEASE)The following is a press release from Texas Tech University:

The opportunity to study abroad is becoming a reality for a record number of Federal Pell Grant recipients. The Study Abroad program in Texas Tech University’s Office of International Affairs (OIA) announced this week they have matched a previous March application cycle record of 17 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship awards set back in 2019.

The U.S. Department of State awards the grant to students who may not have the financial resources to enjoy the study abroad experience. Close to 3,000 undergraduate students from 536 U.S. colleges were chosen for this scholarship. Pell Grant recipients can receive up to $5,000 to study abroad with the Gilman International Scholarship.

Wendoli Flores is the director of Prestigious External Students Awards. She is one part of a cross-department effort to help students prepare for the application process which includes Study Abroad, Prestigious External Student Awards, Financial Aid and the Writing Centers of Texas Tech (WCTTU).  

“We have been partnering with various offices across campus for the past six years to hold information sessions every semester for Pell Grant recipients we recruit via email announcements and other forms of targeted publicity,” Flores said. “We want to remove the myth that studying abroad is impossible for students of high financial needs.” 

“The collaboration allows each department to bring forward their unique skills and expertise for the benefit of the students,” said Whitney Longnecker, director of the Study Abroad program.  “This departmental collaboration ensures we are doing everything we can to help Red Raiders put their best foot forward and submit competitive applications for this award.

Students who are interested in applying for the Gilman Scholarship can attend a workshop at the beginning of each semester to help them prepare for the application process. The workshops help to explain the requirements of the scholarship and prepare students to be successful with their applications.  In many cases students received additional assistance beyond the workshops from the UWC to put final touches on their applications.

“When consulting with students on their applications, we noticed that they struggled with staying on topic with the prompts and articulating their individuality as a person,” said Tracy Givens Undergraduate Writing Center (UWC) Director.  “During the conversations that take place in a consultation, we often find that students are diverse and interesting in ways they are not aware of.”

“It is rewarding to see their enthusiasm when we point this out, and they are able to express their unique perspectives in their writing,” said Sava Kolev, UWC Assistant Director.

Kristin Messuri, managing director of the Writing Centers of Texas Tech said it’s important for students to represent themselves in the best light when given such a great opportunity.

“We were thrilled to learn of the record-tying number of recipients for the Gilman Scholarship and honored to play a role in their success,” Messuri said. “It is always rewarding to see students we have worked with meet their goals with their writing projects. We also believe working with the Writing Center throughout the application process helps students develop their written communication skills, and we are excited to see how they will apply these skills in future endeavors.”

In addition to the Writing Centers and the Study Abroad Office, the Financial Aid Office plays a role as well with the application process to provide best practice tips.

“We provide workshops each Fall and Spring term to help the students understand how to make their Gilman application as strong and competitive as possible, since this is a national scholarship pool,” said Nikki Nordell, senior advisor with Student Financial Aid and Scholarships. “The information we share with the students will also help them make any scholarship application stand out to the donors.”

Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo, vice provost for International said Texas Tech has made significant strides in providing the same kind of study abroad experience for financially disadvantaged students since the Gilman International Scholarship was established by the U.S. Department of State. 

“The number of prestigious Gilman Scholarships received by our students over the years, and particularly this year, is a testament of the high caliber of our students and the strength of our cross-departmental and cross-unit collaborations,” Trejos-Castillo said. “We are proud Texas Tech will be greatly represented internationally by our Gilman Scholarships awardees.”

Once the students return from their study abroad experience, their work is far from over.  They will be charged with passing on what they have learned.  Longnecker indicated the students would be asked to complete a follow-up service project which allows them to share their experience and help to inspire their peers to pursue an opportunity to study abroad.

“This is an award more Red Raiders should be getting,” said Flores.  “We really encourage students to take advantage of the resources and the help we offer on campus, because From Here It Is Possible.”

Texas Tech 2022 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Award Recipients

  • Yasmin Amin 
  • Cassandra Baquero  
  • Lauren Boleng
  • Alejandra Fernandez-Reyes
  • Paxson Fletcher
  • Juan Gallego
  • Stephanie Gregory
  • Emily Land
  • Junia Lee  
  • Travis Libre    
  • Nasser Marquez  
  • John Ogbeide  
  • Lizeth Ramirez  
  • Carson Riley
  • Epiphany Scott
  • Maury Cespedes-Sugia  
  • Sarah Yockey

About the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program created by the U.S. Department of State which empowers students of restricted financial means to study or intern abroad, helping to increase skills paramount to the nation’s security and economic competitiveness.  The program is available to undergraduate U.S. citizens who are also receiving Federal Pell Grant assistance at a two or four-year college or university.

(Press release from Texas Tech University)