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Gilman Scholarship Essay Tips from an Alum

UC Merced Study Abroad Stories of Interest

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is due Tues, Oct 3. We heard from a UC Merced and UC Education Abroad Program returnee and Gilman Scholar recently who had some very down-to-earth advice on the statement of purpose essay requirement for prospective Gilman applicants.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

UC Merced is considered by many to be the most diverse campus in the University of California system, and our students are well-positioned as potential Gilman applicants:

  • UC Merced is designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI)
  • 61% of our students are Pell Grant recipients (fall 2013)
  • 65% of our students are first-generation (fall 2014)
  • In terms of enrollment by ethnicity our campus demographic consists mostly of students traditionally underrepresented within study abroad
  • And so many other areas are considered for the scholarship

A recent Gilman Scholar had this to say about writing the statement of purpose:

If you’re a first-generation college student, “try using the fact that you’re a first generation college student in a … genuine and advantageous way. What were some of the struggles of being a first generation college student? Simply stating that you are a first generation college student does not qualify you for the scholarship; the point is to relay certain struggles you’ve had being a first generation college student.”

“I would home in on struggles you have had leading up to studying abroad; you have to think about it in the perspective of the people giving you the scholarship. What makes you eligible for the scholarship? Why would they give you money and not someone else who is in financial need? What would you use the money for?”

“Research more about [your host country] and talk about why you want to go there in the first place. … What about the culture, land, and country are you going to be benefiting from? What makes it crucial to your career path?”

“I would address things like: what is the program you are going to take part in? How are you going to incorporate studying abroad into your future goals? What skills might you be achieving by studying abroad? How will you be involved when you study abroad?” Talk about “hardships and struggles!”

And on the follow-on service project proposal:

“[D]on’t be afraid to get creative! They love it when students are creative. For instance, I had a friend (also a Gilman Scholar) who created a cookbook of the country’s food where she also wrote about cultural things. I … wrote and did a 365 photo project. Don’t be afraid to propose something fun; it shows that you’re passionate about being in the country that you’re going to.”

Need more help and tips?

Learn more about study abroad scholarships.

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