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UMKC Students Win Gilman Scholarships to Study Abroad

UMKC students awarded Federal Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

The U.S. Department of State recently announced Sarah Rapp, Austin Thorn, Amber Litteken, Ruweida Kulane and Jacinda Godfirnon, students from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, are among 1,201 American undergraduate students from 363 colleges and universities across the United States selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study or intern abroad during the summer of 2018.

The students, their UMKC school, major and host country are:

  • Jacinda Godfirnon, UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, music therapy, Costa Rica;
  • Amber Litteken, UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, music education, Argentina;
  • Ruweida Kulane, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, business administration, Denmark;
  • Sarah Rapp, School of Biological Sciences, biology, Denmark;
  • Austin Thorn, UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, music therapy, Peru.
  • UMKC also has one alternate who will be notified if an award becomes available: Mollie Maupin, College of Arts and Sciences, chemistry and psychology, Peru.

“The Gilman Scholarship program helps UMKC to support students who have traditionally been underrepresented in education abroad, such as STEM majors, minority students, students with disabilities, first-generation college students, and/or students with financial need,” said Kate Wozniak, assistant director for Study Abroad and Exchange. “Financial constraints are the main reason why some UMKC students do not consider study abroad a possibility. With awards of up to $5,000, the Gilman Scholarship opens doors for a more diverse pool of students and encourages less traditional study-abroad locations.”

To encourage even more students, Wozniak said the Gilman program created an early summer application cycle, due in early October. The early summer awards are announced in late February or early March, while the regular summer awards are announced late April or early May. Most summer program payments are due before May. Wozniak said UMKC International Academic Programs has seen an increase in the number of students working at least 12 to 14 months ahead of the deadline so they can make a financial and academic plan to study abroad.

Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs with additional funding available for the study of a critical language overseas.  The Gilman Scholarship supports American undergraduate students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad and, since 2001, has enabled more than 25,000 outstanding Americans of diverse backgrounds to engage in a meaningful educational experience abroad. The program has successfully broadened U.S. participation in study abroad, while emphasizing countries and regions where fewer Americans traditionally study.

The late Congressman Gilman, for whom the scholarship is named, served in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee. When honored with the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2002, he commented, “Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but adds an enriching social and cultural experience.  It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

The Gilman Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education (IIE).


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