While most University of Nevada, Reno students are enjoying their winter break, third-year student Sophie Glogovac is preparing for the trip of a lifetime. She will spend spring semester studying abroad in Costa Rica.
The secondary education major, originally from Virginia City, Nev., and Ashley Walker, were recently awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education. She is one of the 31 University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) students selected this semester from nearly a thousand who applied throughout the country.
The Gilman Scholarship is open to undergraduate students who are citizens of the United States, who have been awarded a Federal Pell Grant and are applying for or are accepted into a study abroad program. This benefits students who might not otherwise participate in study abroad programs due to financial constraints. The study abroad program must be longer than four weeks and must not be in a country under the U.S. State Department's Travel Warning List. After meeting these guidelines, anyone in any major or field of study is eligible.
"The Gilman Scholarship is a wonderful award, hundreds of students around the country benefit each year," said McKenzi Swinehart, scholarship program advisor for USAC, a non-profit organization that provides affordable study abroad program based in Reno.
Scholarship recipients are able to choose which part of the world to explore and which area of study they wish to conduct. Previous Gilman Scholarship recipient Jonathan Carral, an international affairs student from the University studied and documented his trip in Chengdu, China.
Sophie will be using the award to study Spanish in Costa Rica and Ashley to study both French and Spanish in Europe this coming semester.
Glogovac has long wanted to study abroad, and was ecstatic to hear the news.
"I feel extremely honored to have received the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship," Glogovac said. "To be selected was one of the greatest feelings, seeing that my hard work had paid off. I can put the scholarship toward my tuition; this award will help me immensely."
Glogovac leaves for Costa Rica mid-January and will spend five months there. Her coursework will allow her to fully immerse in the Spanish language and the Central American culture.
"I am looking forward to meeting all of the locals and learning a new dialect, broadening my use of the Spanish language," said Glogovac. "I am also excited to meet the students from other universities, who, like me, have also chosen to study abroad in Costa Rica. And I can't forget to mention the sites, animals and cuisine; it will all be amazing."
After completing her study abroad program, Glogovac plans to graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno and received her bachelor's degree in secondary education as well as her certification in English as a Second Language. Her personal goal is to become a Spanish teacher, teach abroad in a Spanish-speaking country, and make a difference in education.
Under the terms of the scholarship, all recipients are required to perform a service project promoting the scholarship program and international education at their home institution or in their local community.
Glogovac, for her service project, plans to create a funding branch within the Dean's Future Scholars (DFS), a nonprofit organization, to search for funding and grant opportunities for first generation, low income students to study abroad. "This will benefit the DFS students, providing them more opportunities and a chance to study internationally," she explained.
With her excitement, Glogovac pronounces her gratitude for USAC and the scholarship. "I think that it is so wonderful to have a program that allows students to experience education in new environments," she said. "With programs like USAC, students are able to make this possible. Everyone at USAC has been extremely helpful and will guide students through every step of the process. USAC is an amazing program and I am so happy that I have been given this opportunity."