Later this month, University of North Georgia (UNG) students Jonathan Shepard and Anita Renfroe will travel to Oman for study abroad opportunities after being awarded the Gilman International Scholarship, a congressionally-funded scholarship program for students studying or interning internationally.
Both students will be studying Arabic in Muscat, Oman, at the Center for International Learning, a new international partnership for UNG.
Shepard received $8,000 through the scholarship for studying a language deemed as a "critical need language" by the Gilman program.
"International Affairs students are required to study abroad in order to graduate, and the Gilman Scholarship is the only way that I was able to pay for the trip without taking out a considerable amount of student loans," Shepard said. "Also, this experience will make me more competitive in an increasingly globalized job market."
Renfroe received a $4,000 Gilman scholarship.
"I'm looking forward to immersing myself in a language that I love so much and for the new experience. I have never traveled internationally and I am both excited and anxious, but mostly excited," Renfroe said. "This is a great opportunity that never would have been possible without the help of faculty who, even when there were obstacles, were as determined as I was to obtain funds for me to study abroad."
UNG offers study abroad programs in countries around the world; during the 2013-14 academic year, 276 UNG students participated in study abroad programs. Dr. John Wilson, acting director of UNG's Center for Global Engagement, said international education can provide many benefits to students.
"Studying abroad is a great way to obtain personal and intellectual growth, career inspiration, work experience, language acquisition, and intercultural understanding," he said. "It is my goal to provide students with international opportunities to enhance their careers and life experiences."
UNG offers courses in 10 languages, and students can earn a bachelor's degree in modern languages with a concentration in Arabic, Chinese, French or Spanish. Each summer, UNG offers intensive language courses for college and high school students. UNG also offers specialized global opportunities for students in the Corps of Cadets, including federally funded programs such as Project Global Officer, Chinese Language Flagship and UNG's Language Training Center.
The Gilman International Scholarship Program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and is administered by the Institute of International Education. The program offers U.S. undergraduate students of high financial need grants of up to $5,000 to participate in a study abroad program or career-oriented international internship eligible for academic credit. Students studying a critical need language are eligible to receive an $8,000 grant.
The Gilman Program aims to diversify the kinds of students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go by supporting U.S. undergraduates who might otherwise not consider these opportunities due to financial constraints.
The program received more than 2,700 applications and more than 800 students were offered awards to study abroad and participate in career-oriented internships in countries around the world.