About 100 CSUMB students to study abroad; a dozen earn Gilman scholarships

Ayana HawkAyana Hawk is not your typical study-abroad student. She’s majoring in film, not social sciences or business — the most popular fields among students studying abroad. And she’s African-American, which, according to the Institute of International Education, puts her among 4.8 percent of students who study overseas.

Hawk will be taking an intensive language program at a university in southern Spain this coming school year, thanks to a scholarship aimed at getting more underrepresented students to study abroad. The scholarship also encourages applicants to look beyond traditionally popular destinations such as Italy or Australia.

Hawk, of Culver City, is one of 12 CSUMB students to receive the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for the coming year.

The Gilman scholarship recipients reflect a more diverse pool, with 17 percent being Hispanic and 15 percent Asian or Pacific Islander. Nearly a third of them go to Asia, compared with about a tenth of traditional study-abroad students. The scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. State Department and administered by the Institute of International Education.

The competitive program offers grants of $5,000 to help defray the costs of tuition, room and board, books, local transportation, insurance and airfare. The program awarded more than 850 scholarships to undergraduates for the 2013-14 academic year.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for these students,” said CSUMB’s international programs manager Holly White, who has seen a significant number of CSUMB students earn the scholarship over the last few years. Last fall, 13 CSUMB students received them.

Like the other scholarship winners, Hawk, 19, who will be a junior in the fall, would not be able to study abroad without the financial support the program provides. The trip is one she has dreamed of for years.

“The reason why I decided to study abroad is because I knew there is more to the world than what I am currently living and experiencing,” she said.

“Growing up, I remember watching the Olympics and seeing all these countries I’d never even heard of. I knew there was more than what I knew outside my home. There was a whole world.” 

While she will study only Spanish, she plans to explore current events and political issues in the country via filmmaking. She’s interested in the plight of African immigrants who work in the fields and as street vendors; some blame them for Spain’s current economic crisis.

The belief that international study better prepares American students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world is central to the vision of CSUMB’s Office of International Programs.

In the academic year just concluded, 110 students spent at least a semester studying abroad. For the 2013-14 academic year, approximately the same number will spent one or two semesters studying in another country.

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship recipients for the 2013-14 academic year, and their travel destinations:

• Maria Becerra, Spain
• Matthew Bichay, Japan
• Allan Coello, Japan
• Ayana Hawk-Harris, Spain
• Elizabeth Lara, Sweden
• Shelby Lydon,, Japan
• Kiara McLaurin, Japan
• Eric Mosqueda, Sweden
• Franchesca Ramirez, Germany
• Brenda Ruiz, Germany
• Richard Sweet, Japan
• Julio Tellez-Gonzalez, Japan

Learn more about CSUMB’s international programs

Learn more the Gilman International Scholarship program