Students earn national scholarships to study abroad

PULLMAN, Wash. – Three Washington State University students are among approximately 800 undergraduates nationwide awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad this fall.

About 20 percent of applicants are successful, and supporting essays are particularly important to the application, said Sarah Ann Hones, director of the distinguished scholarship program at WSU. More than 30 WSU students since 2006 have received the scholarship. 

More information regarding the Gilman, or applying for distinguished scholarships and other prestigious awards, can be found online at

The recipients are:   

* Galen Green, a sophomore English major from WSU Vancouver, who will spend a year at the Beijing Language and Culture University in China taking classes in both English and Mandarin. An avid fiction writer, he plans to start and facilitate a writing workshop in Beijing to stay active in his craft. 

He said life in another culture helps to accelerate an understanding of one’s own culture, stifling ethnocentrism.

“I’m excited to be frustrated, anxious and completely mesmerized,” Green said. “There’s really no substitute for that kind of experience; I think everyone should study abroad.”

He said financial costs are not always an obstacle. He gave up driving to save extra money for traveling and said such simple steps make the “excuse of cost for studying abroad not particularly impressive.” 

He said that getting the Gilman award is a reminder that sometimes an otherwise average student –who is just passionate about travel – can be recognized.

* Jackie Hill, a senior Chinese major at WSU Pullman, who will spend a semester at the Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, China for an intensive Chinese language and culture program.

She hopes to use the experience to gain an edge in applications for master’s programs to become a librarian who specializes in Chinese studies. Her goal is to help reduce misconceptions about Chinese history and culture.

* Maria Peden, a senior anthropology major at WSU Vancouver, who will spend a year at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. The concepts and principles of anthropology, she said, are best learned from gaining an inside perspective through cultural immersion.

Peden will keep a blog – and perhaps a YouTube channel – to document her journey. She also hopes to get involved in volunteer activities while in South Korea to promote a positive image of American students and to give back to her host nation.

“Going abroad helps teach and reinforce valuable skills,” she said. “You can look at problems from multiple perspectives and adapt to new situations. I think that’s applicable for anyone or any career.”