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New Record for Gilman Scholarships

Twenty-four BYU students received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship with eight alternates in 2020, which is an all-time high for BYU. These accomplished students will pursue their studies in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, North Africa, and South and Central America. This year’s recipients include the following:

  • Andrew Bonney (Jordan, Israel)
  • Zachary Boyce (China)
  • Joshua Brown (Jordan, Israel)
  • Jordan Chou (Jordan)
  • Edgar Columna (United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Czech Republic)
  • Anna Harris (United Kingdom)
  • Kai Hicken (Jordan, Israel)
  • Katelyn Jackman (Portugal)
  • Sarah Koger (Jordan)
  • Chandrelyn Kraczek (Portugal)
  • Holly Lesser (China)
  • Linda Maldonado (Mexico)
  • Breeze Parker (South Korea)
  • Jonathan Rosenbalm (Morocco)
  • Benjamin Stubblefield (Hungary, Denmark, Austria, Czech Republic)
  • Maddison Thyer-Brown (Jordan, Israel)
  • Yazmine Tovar (Ecuador)
  • Gina Young (United Kingdom, Netherlands)
  • Nicholas Merrill (Czech Republic)
  • Brendon Hymas (Japan)
  • Abby Gibbs (Greece, Morocco, Albania, Montenegro)
  • Vanessa Aparicio-Herrera (Italy, Austria)
  • Ashlie Johnson (France)

The Gilman Scholarship is a prestigious international affairs opportunity for students to study internationally and prepare themselves for careers in their desired field. These studies include a focus on the area’s respective language. The scholarship is primarily need-based, which is particularly important for more than two-thirds of all BYU students who don’t study abroad—many of whom face financial obstacles.

Applications for the Gilman Scholarship include an online application, two essays, an unofficial transcript, and certification from James Mayo, the Scholarship Coordinator at the Kennedy Center. This process not only polishes students’ applications but also allows students to thoroughly plan and work towards their career goals. Students who receive one international affairs scholarship may also look into others, such as Boren Awards, the Critical Language Scholarship, or the Fulbright Scholarship. These scholarships have the potential to snowball into previously unimaginable opportunities.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of Gilman recipients have deferred their abroad experience for next year; other students, however, are pursuing their studies virtually this fall semester. This is the case for Jordan Chou, an Economics major who will be studying Arabic virtually. He will take virtual courses from faculty at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan, supplemented with cultural activities and interactions with Arabic speakers in Provo.

“Honestly, I wasn’t very excited about these adjustments,” he recently stated, “but our director said we would also be able to do the study abroad the following spring semester instead. So, the actual traveling and in-country part of the program will be half as long, which I’m not that happy about, but we will be an entire ‘study abroad’ worth of Arabic better than we would have been, so we will hopefully get a lot more out of the in-country experience than we otherwise would have.”

Regardless of recent adjustments to his educational path, Chou will continue on his career goals. “I hope to do business internationally. I am also extremely interested in the economic development of third-world countries, and so I hope that my language skills will be extremely useful in creating meaningful change in the Middle East, as well as in other parts of the world.”

As Chou himself notes, anyone who wants to create that same meaningful change in the world can apply for the Gilman Scholarship. “Applying for the Gilman Scholarship was easier than I thought it would be. The process is very simple: you just have to write a couple short essays, and [the Kennedy Center] scholarship advisement is there to help you every step of the way. James Mayo was extremely helpful in editing my essays because he was very familiar with the application process and what the program was looking for.”

Visit the Kennedy Center page or the Gilman official site to learn more about this scholarship, including deadlines. Fall 2020 semester information sessions will be hosted weekly on Zoom to help new applicants prepare.