UTEP Undergraduates Secure Prestigious Gilman Scholarship
Last Updated on July 27, 2020 at 12:00 AM
Originally published July 27, 2020
By UC Staff
Seven undergraduate students at The University of Texas at El Paso have secured the opportunity to study abroad through the U.S. Department of State's Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarship programs.
“The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program gives our talented and determined students an opportunity to set themselves apart when they pursue their future goals, and we're excited to see how these valuable study abroad experiences will expand the boundaries of their college education and enrich their lives,” said Catie McCorry-Andalis, Ed.D., associate vice president for student engagement and dean of students at UTEP. “While these experiences might be delayed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, securing these scholarships will make these opportunities more accessible to pursue once it is safe to do so.”
This year's seven Gilman Scholars earned a total of $24,000. They are:
- Sofia Arciniega, sophomore business major, who will study in France
- Mircka Calderon, junior biochemistry major, who will study in Spain
- Adrian Elias, freshman civil engineering major, who will study in Spain
- Marcela Fuentes Anaya, senior political science major with an organizational and corporate communication minor who will study in France
- Alyssa Garza, senior sociology major with a women’s studies minor, who will study in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands
- Progga Hassan, senior biological sciences major, who will study in Belgium
- Jade Hernandez, senior art major with an art history minor, who will study in Italy
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the program is adjusting its process to avoid travel during the 2020 calendar year, either delaying the students’ planned study abroad opportunities until 2021, or creating virtual and remote opportunities. The study abroad office is working with UTEP’s students to adjust their upcoming plans.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage our students to pursue these high-impact, immersive educational experiences supported by prestigious scholarship and fellowship programs like the Gilman Scholarship,” said Melanie Meinzer, Ph.D., a director in UTEP’s Division of Student Affairs who oversees international scholarships, fellowships and awards. “We are excited for these students as they prepare to participate in these transformative study abroad opportunities.”
Sophomore Sofia Arciniega grew up in the Paso del Norte region, but she hopes to gain exposure to a range of cultures by studying business in France and set herself on a path to one day earning a doctoral degree in economics. She said the support she received from her family, as well as staff members at UTEP’s Office of Study Abroad and the University Writing Center, helped her through the process to secure this prestigious scholarship.
“It is hard at the beginning, but you also have so many people who are willing to help you at the University,” she said.
Senior Progga Hassan is a first-generation American who graduated from high school in El Paso. She hopes that gaining experience in a multicultural, interconnected European setting with a robust public health infrastructure will help her gain valuable insight as she pursues a medical career. To fellow UTEP students who might not be sure about whether they should pursue such opportunities, she remembers a saying she learned early at UTEP: You should get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
“If you don’t apply and put yourself out there, you never know if you’re going to get it or not,” she said. “Rejection will happen, but success will happen as well.”
The Congressionally funded Gilman Program broadens the U.S. student population studying and interning abroad by providing scholarships to outstanding undergraduate Pell Grant recipients.
The program was established in 2000 with the support of its namesake, the late New York Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, who said that study abroad “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.”