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WVU students gain international perspective as Gilman Scholars

Collage of six headshots of students awarded scholarships through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

Six WVU students are recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, creating opportunities for undergraduate students to travel and study abroad. They are (clockwise from top left) Ariana Burks, Kaleb Cole, Emily Diaz, Stephanie Sarfo, Helen Knight and Marcus Hahn. (WVU Graphic)

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Six West Virginia University students will expand their horizons through study abroad experiences this spring, summer and fall after being awarded scholarships through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

Available to undergraduates who receive federal Pell Grant funding, the Gilman Scholarship enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad. WVU students navigated a rigorous application process with help from the WVU ASPIRE Office, which provides individual support for WVU students interested in pursuing nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships.

“These six students are embarking on global learning opportunities that will have a transformative impact on their academic, professional and personal futures,” Cate Johnson, assistant director of the ASPIRE Office, said. “It’s exciting to celebrate them and their accomplishments as Gilman Scholarship recipients.”

The following WVU students were awarded Gilman Scholarships during the October 2023 application cycle:

Ariana Burks, a junior majoring in international studies and geography with a minor in Arabic studies, will spend two weeks this May in Thailand studying the importance of gastrodiplomacy, the practice of using food to share culture. Thailand: Gastrodiplomacy and Entrepreneurship is led by faculty in the John Chambers College of Business and Economics. Burks, a Beckley native and Honors College student, was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship in 2023 and spent last summer studying Arabic in Oman.

Kaleb Cole, a junior computer science major at WVU Institute of Technology in Beckley, will travel to Australia this fall. The Pennsboro native and aspiring software engineer will spend a semester studying computer science at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. 

Emily Diaz, a freshman history major and Honors College student from York, Pennsylvania, participated in the Honors College-sponsored Cross-Cultural Explorations: Germany and France program during spring break.

Marcus Hahn, a senior from Petersburg who is majoring in biology, traveled to Edinburgh and London this spring as part of United Kingdom: Health Sciences in Great Britain led by the Pre-Health Professional Development Office.

Helen Knight, a senior multidisciplinary studies major with emphases on international business, communication and sociology, will also travel to Thailand in May. The Morgantown resident who is originally from Ethiopia is considering joining the Peace Corps or pursuing an internship with UNICEF after graduation.

Stephanie Sarfo, a sophomore political science major from Kumasi, Ghana, was awarded a scholarship to study in South Korea this summer. The aspiring lawyer said she believes studying abroad will help her develop skills in intercultural sensitivity and adapting to new environments.

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education. It was established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000.



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