Ryan Smith and Liana Miera ('21) Receive Gilman Award

By Emily Russo, POET Intern

Congratulations to Ryan Smith and Liana Miera!

WHITTIER COLLEGE students RYAN SMITH and LIANA MIERA (’21) awarded U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship 

The Whittier College Office of International Programs is pleased to announce that Ryan Smith and Liana Miera (‘21), both juniors at Whittier College, have been selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to study or intern abroad during the spring 2020 academic term. Smith, a Religious Studies major, will spend Spring 2020 at the   School for International Training in Indonesia , while Miera, a WSP major and Spanish minor, will spend Spring 2020 at National University of Maynooth, Ireland with American Institute for Foreign Study.

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to diversify the students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go. Students receiving a Federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions who will be studying abroad or participating in a career-oriented international internship for academic credit are eligible to apply.  Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages, and economies — making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.

In addition to receiving the Gilman Scholarship for the 2019-2020 academic year, Smith has been awarded the Critical Need Language Award– a financial scholarship of up to $3,000 to study a foreign language in one of the countries deemed to be a critical priority by the U.S. Department of State. Through this scholarship, the U.S. Department of State hopes to increase language proficiency and further students’ professional goals by means of immersion into a native culture. Smith will be studying Bahasa Indonesian and “hopes to learn deeply about the Hindu and Muslim religious traditions found on these islands [in order to] bring that knowledge back home to the U.S, where both of these religions are highly misunderstood.”

Ryan also shared, “While it was a long process involving many questions and three essays, I am so excited for the opportunity to officially be a Gilman Scholar and go to Indonesia. My ability to study in Bali and Java with SIT depended on this scholarship and after waiting for months to hear back, I felt so relieved when I finally received the email saying I was awarded the Gilman and Critical Need Language Awards. Not only will this scholarship help me to get to Indonesia, but there are so many amazing opportunities for employment following my graduation because of this program… What is really important is going into the field and viewing the lived religious practices for yourself and the Gilman really has given me such an incredible opportunity to do so.”

Congressman Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee, commented, “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates.  Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also 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.”

The program is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE).  The full list of students who have been selected to receive Gilman Scholarships, including students’ home state, university and host country, is available on their website: www.iie.org/gilman

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The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) mission is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange that assist in the development of peaceful relations. In an effort to reflect the diversity of the United States and global society, ECA programs, funding, and other activities encourage the involvement of American and international participants from traditionally underrepresented groups, including women, racial and ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities.  Artists, educators, athletes, students, youth and rising leaders in the United States and more than 160 countries around the globe participate in academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges. For more information about ECA programs, initiatives, and achievements, visit http://eca.state.gov.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas.  An independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1919, the Institute is the world’s most experienced global higher education and professional exchange organizations.  IIE has a network of 19 offices worldwide working with more than 1,200 member institutions and over 6,000 individuals with a commitment to the internationalization of their institutions.  IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources. These programs include the Fulbright and Humphrey Fellowships administered for the U.S. Department of State.  The Institute is a resource for educators and institutions worldwide (http://www.iie.org), publishing the Open Doors Report and operating www.IIEPassport.org and www.studyabroadfunding.org  search engines for study abroad programs and study abroad scholarships.  For more information, please contact Lindsay Calvert, Director, Gilman International Scholarship, at 832-369-3481 or lcalvert@iie.org.