WKU students earn over 1 million in Gilman Scholarships

Madison Carter, Reporter

Since the founding of the Office of Student Development in 2008, the number of students receiving Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships have increased exponentially.

The Gilman Scholarship Program seeks to make study abroad a more financially accessible opportunity for students. Students who receive Federal Pell Grants are eligible for the program.

After the most recent round of scholarships, WKU students have surpassed $1 million in Gilman Scholarships since 2001.

“The Gilman scholarship is focused on access to study abroad and internships abroad,” Lindsey Houchin, assistant director of the office of scholar development, said. “Whenever we’re working with students who are applying we are essentially helping them tell their story and connecting their past experiences to their future professional goals.”

Houchin said this milestone marks growth in the mission of the office and reflects how the resources WKU is investing in the office pays off in dividends.

“The one million dollar milestone is especially exciting to me because it marks one million dollars in transformative experiences for students that we are personally and professionally invested in,” Houchin said.

While $1 million is remarkable, the most powerful aspect of this achievement is how far these scholarships have taken the student recipients, Houchin said.

Students who have received scholarships have an increased sense of empowerment and self-efficacy, Houchin said. Students come back from study abroad excited to share their experiences with others and continue setting new goals for themselves.

Houchin said it is important for the office to extend study abroad information to all students, especially first generation students who may not be aware of study abroad programs.

“There are students on campus who don’t even know to dream of a study abroad experience,” Houchin said. “I think that’s where we’re seeing this transformative power for our campus community. There is a dedicated effort to make the possibility more accessible as early as possible.”

Houchin said that the “Gilman team” on campus is wider than what one might expect.

According to Houchin, there are former Gilman advisors on campus who are now in different roles, yet they still impact the mission of the scholarship.

Those who had a significant impact in reaching this milestone are Audra Jennings, Cheryl Kirby-Stokes, the WKU global team and student financial assistance, Houchin said.

“It’s a historical celebration, even more so than the great success we’ve seen in just the past couple of years,” Houchin said. “It is honestly something for the entire institution to feel really proud of. We’re absolutely a pacemaker in the state.”

News reporter Madison Carter can be reached at [email protected].