The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs named Brandeis University as the fourth university in the nation (with fewer than five thousand undergraduate students) for the number of students receiving the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, according to a BrandeisNow article. Since the program was launched in 2001, a total of 129 Brandeis students have received the scholarship. Brandeis was ranked second in Massachusetts, with the University of Massachusetts Amherst having the most recipients with 285; Boston College was a close third with 111 recipients.
According to the BrandeisNow article, more than 34 thousand Gilman Scholars from the United States interned or studied in 155 countries. The universities that produce the most Gilman Scholars were recognized for their support of accessibility, equity and diversity in studying abroad.
“The Gilman scholarship has greatly aided Brandeis students in studying abroad who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to do so. It aligns with our university’s social justice mission in increasing access and equity for students as they embark on transformative learning experiences on campus and abroad,” said Alisha Cardwell, director of the Office of Study Abroad at Brandeis, according to BrandeisNow. Ten Brandeis students received the scholarship in March 2021, while 16 Brandeis students received it in 2020, according to the scholarship website.
The goal of the program is to make study abroad more inclusive and accessible to Americans. This is done by providing scholarships to students who might have not been able to go abroad because of financial constraints. The program aims “to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries or areas and world regions. The program also encourages students to study languages, especially critical need languages,” according to the scholarship website.
The program is funded by Congress, as a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State; it was named after congressman Benjamin A. Gilman. It was his support that helped establish the program, through the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, according to its website.
According to the program website, 57 percent of Scholars were first-generation college students, and 56 percent of students studied a language while abroad. While 80 percent of Scholars acquired job-related skills; 29 percent of students in the program were STEM majors.