Peer Scholarship Advice

The official blog of the Charles Center Peer Scholarship Advisors

Category: Gilman

Scholarships for Language Study

1. Critical Language Scholarships
Critical Language Scholarships are a U.S. State Department Sponsored program providing two months of fully funded language study abroad during the summer. CLS is specifically focused on languages that are important to U.S. national security interest, so it has programs in countries such as China, Morocco, Turkey, Russia, and others where critical languages are spoken. You can find more info about CLS on their website.

2. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships
The Boren Scholarship is a U.S. government-sponsored program funding U.S. students’ study of languages in regions of the world critical for U.S. national security. Its purpose is similar to that of CLS, but unlike CLS it provides funding for semester- and year-long study instead of just for the summer, and Boren funds study of a much wider range of languages than CLS does. Moreover, it is designed for students planning to work in the national security arena and includes a one-year government service requirement. The Boren Scholarship gives up to $20,000 to fund semester- and year-long programs for undergraduates, and up to $8,000 for summer programs for STEM students. The equivalent program for graduate students, the Boren Fellowship, provides up to $30,000 in funding. You can learn more about Boren here.

3. Blakemore Foundation Freeman Fellowship
Blakemore Foundation Freeman Fellowships provide a year of intensive language study of an East or Southeast Asian language. This fellowship is intended for recent graduates who are pursuing a career that involves the regular use of the language that they choose. Fellows must already have a high degree of proficiency in the language that they choose, and they can choose from a pre-selected set of programs in Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, or Vietnam. Learn more about this program here.

4. Gilman Scholarship
The Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program is a State Department sponsored program designed to reduce barriers to study abroad through providing assistance to those undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. To be eligible, applicants must be receiving a Federal Pell Grant or provide proof that they will be receiving a Pell Grant at the time of application or during the term of their study abroad. Gilman scholarship recipients are not required to complete language study, but the program does provide additional funding for students studying critical languages while abroad. To find out more about the Gilman Scholarship, check out their official website, the William & Mary specific website.

Keep in mind that these are only a few of the many opportunities for William & Mary students to find funding for language study. For more info about all kinds of scholarships and fellowships, check out Scholarship Search, keep following the scholarship blog, or bring your questions to the PSAs directly in the Charles Center Mondays through Fridays from 9am to 5pm. Good luck on all your apps!

Gilman Scholarship Awardee Profile: Brianna Meeks

Congratulations to Gilman Scholar Brianna Meeks! Here are some of her thoughts on the Gilman Scholarship and its application process:

What motivated you to apply for this scholarship?

I never thought that studying abroad could be a feasible option for me simply because of the expenses. When I discovered the Gilman, my whole perspective on studying abroad changed, and I started to realistically consider it. As I did this, I discovered how much I really value deep, authentic glimpses into other cultures, and I became very motivated to at least try to make that happen. It felt like the Gilman was made for me, so I put in a serious amount of effort into my application.

What do you hope to get out of the opportunity this scholarship/fellowship affords you?

I hope to listen to the people around me, letting that grow my empathy and give me a more global understanding of life. I hope that I will be able to share what I learn in South Africa with people here in the States, that I will be able to be a bridge between the two places. I also hope that I will take every opportunity to go outside of my comfort zone and that I come back braver and more confident.

How did you choose your study abroad program?

I really wanted to shy away from “voluntourism,” so I was seeking a program that emphasized the intentional experience I would get of a new country. I found that with the School for International Training, a third-party study abroad program, and from there I chose the summer program. I decided to do Education and Social Change in South Africa because I had been considering education as a career at the time. I am no longer interested in education specifically, but I am still very passionate about both education and social change. Plus, I was (and am) very excited to travel to South Africa, which has a unique history of traumatic racial tensions and attempts to find reconciliation through that. All of these together made the program a great fit for me.

What are you most proud of in your application?

I am proud that I was able to finish the application only a few weeks after finding out about it and putting in the effort to make it a good application. I am proud that I let myself dream beyond what I used to think was feasible, that I did not limit myself based on financial choices.

What did you realize about yourself throughout this process?

I have alluded to this already, but I was surprised to see how deep-seated my aversion to anything resembling shallow tourism is. Not that tourism in itself is bad, but I think travel should be about creating meaningful connections around the world. This is opposed to just delighting in the exciting & attractive or raising oneself or one’s country on a pedestal. I knew that I felt this way, but I did not realize until looking for study abroad programs exactly what I did and did not want from overseas travel.

What advice do you have for future Gilman applicants?

Get all the help that you can. The PSAs, the Reves Center, your friends and family: they’re all extremely helpful and can give you great advice on everything from deciding on your program to making your application as solid as it can possibly be. They want to see you succeed, so take advantage of that! And let yourself dream. Forget money and logistic details and find a program or a country that you’re really passionate about. That will provide you with motivation for the application, and your enthusiasm will be evident in your application.

Congratulations again to Brianna, and all of W&M’s other Gilman Scholars! As always, if you have any questions about Fulbright or other scholarships, don’t hesitate to visit Scholarship Search or come to the Charles to ask a PSA Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. Thanks for reading and good luck on your applications!