February 2, 2011
Meet Amanda Parkman, a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship recipient who studied abroad in Australia. The Gilman Scholarship Program has provided over 6,400 scholarships of up to $5,000 each towards study abroad programs for U.S. undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds, including students with disabilities, who also present financial need.
In preparation for the March 1, 2011 Gilman application deadline, I posed a few questions to Amanda about applying for a Gilman Scholarship.
How long did the Gilman Scholarship application take for you?
I learned about Gilman from my study abroad advisor at the University of Arizona. I knew the scholarship was a wonderful opportunity that I did not want to take lightly; I’m the type of person who likes to be well organized and plan early. The application took awhile because I needed to write the personal statement, have it proof read a couple of times, and also put a lot of thought into the returning project I wanted to do.
How did you choose whether or not to spotlight your disability and diversity as an applicant?
When you are writing about yourself, especially when applying for a scholarship or a grant, you want to highlight what makes you unique. What are your strengths? I’ve always considered the fact that I am Korean American and have a disability as a strength. They are qualities that have shaped who I’ve become.
Being adopted from Korea and raised by American parents, and growing up with a physical disability, instilled in me to be open minded. It is that open mindedness that encouraged me to want to study abroad — to see and appreciate a world outside the one in which I had grown up. It is that type of characteristic Gilman looks for: providing opportunity to those who may not otherwise study abroad.
What do you recommend to students with disabilities as they begin the process of applying for a Gilman scholarship?
As students with disabilities (and anyone really) begin the process of applying to the Gilman scholarship they need to think about why they want to study abroad. What do they want to get out of the experience? They need to begin thinking about what makes them unique. Why should Gilman award them a scholarship? These are questions that they need to think about because it will help them write that personal statement. The most difficult part of the Gilman application for me was the personal statement. It is difficult to write about yourself. I’m really glad I invested as much time as I did into it.
- When Amanda returned she was excited to share with other students about her experience and encourage them to go. Amanda answers more questions about her time abroad on her Featured Person page on our website.
- Amanda kept a blog of her Australian adventures while abroad, which can be read at: “Adventurous Amanda.”
- See four new Gilman scholarship recipient stories on our Funding Stories page, and make sure and apply for a Gilman Scholarship by March 1, 2011.