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Five NMSU students awarded Gilman Scholarships for spring study abroad

Five New Mexico State University students will be expanding their horizons this semester, supported in their study abroad experiences with scholarships from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.


Woman in red outfit sits on a black cannon barrel on the ground inside a waist-high, curved stone block wall. City buildings are visible in the hazy distance.
NMSU student Emily Estes sits on a cannon barrel at Golkonda Fort in Hyderabad, India, where she is attending the University of Hyderabad this semester. She is one of five NMSU students whose spring 2013 study abroad experiences are supported in part by scholarships from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. (Photo courtesy of Emily Estes)

Emily Estes, Reanna Messer, Georgina Perez, Theresa Stalley and Monica Torres will be mixing academics and cultural exploration in India, Australia, Germany, South Korea and Spain, respectively. Their scholarships range in size from $3,500-$4,500.

While some of the students won't be leaving the U.S. for a few more weeks, others are already hard at work in their new settings.

Estes reported that she arrived in Hyderabad, India, Jan. 2 and started classes the following day at the University of Hyderabad. She will be there until the end of May. She is an individualized studies major in the College of Extended Learning.

"I will be studying the philosophy of Ayurvedic medicine, the theory and practice of yoga, women's movements in India, and gender identities and sexualities in South India," she said. "India is amazing!! The food is great! The people are nice. The things I am seeing and learning can't be described. I don't think I could have imagined anything more mind-blowing."

Torres, a government major, is also already immersed in her new environment, taking political science and Spanish classes at the Universidad de Pablo de Olavide in Sevilla. She reports that she loves Spain and her classes.

Stalley is a hotel, restaurant and tourism management major who is enthusiastic about heading to South Korea soon. She plans to complete her required business courses, as well as courses needed for a minor in marketing, at Korea University's Sejong campus south of Seoul.

"NMSU students are offered a great opportunity to study abroad in South Korea, since the cost for a semester there is comparable to a semester at NMSU," she said.

Messer, a biology major, plans to get involved in marine research in the Great Barrier Reef. She will be taking a variety of courses at Central Queensland University, including one on Australian government and another on outdoor activities. After her classes end in early June, her plan is to stay on and explore more of the country.

Perez is pursuing majors in elementary and special education but will be taking general education courses when she arrives in Hannover, Germany for four months of study at Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universitat Hannover.

According to their website, the Gilman Scholarship Program seeks "to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go." The program has been in existence for ten years and is the largest undergraduate study abroad scholarship program in the U.S.

Nearly 60 NMSU students have garnered Gilman scholarships since fall 2008.
Kristian Chervenock, director of NMSU's Office of Education Abroad and faculty adviser for the Gilman Scholarship Program at NMSU, said, "As New Mexico State University continues to develop into a more internationalized campus, and as we continue to encourage greater numbers of students to participate in academic programs abroad, the Gilman scholarship will play an increasingly critical role in these efforts. The energy we have been devoting to promoting this scholarship program is paying off nicely."

While the Gilman scholarship funds do not cover the entire cost of a semester abroad, for many students they make the difference between being able to afford the experience and not. For others the scholarship expands the opportunities for cultural enrichment while in their host countries.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I'm so blessed to have the opportunity to experience it," Estes said. "I think it is extremely important for students at NMSU to know that it is possible. There is funding available if you seek it out."

"Without the Gilman scholarship, I don't think I would have been able to go to Australia, live comfortably, and travel," Messer said. "They are basically paying for my entire housing cost and meal plan, which was going to be a huge burden on me. This scholarship really is allowing me to discover Australia the way I have always wanted to, and I'm sure it will be everything I envision."

To learn more about NMSU's Office of Education Abroad, visit their website at http://studyabroad.nmsu.edu/