Despite concerns of the seemingly prohibitive costs associated with studying abroad, Case Western Reserve University student Jaydah Robertson set her sights on the experience during her first semester. Determined to make it happen, she took on work-study jobs to finance a future trip. But even after a few years, the money still wasn’t adding up.

Undeterred, Robertson, a rising fourth-year biochemistry and psychology double major, turned to the Office of Education Abroad to explore other options, ultimately applying for a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State—and winning. Robertson was one of seven CWRU students selected for this prestigious scholarship program, which is designed to offer students with limited financial means the opportunity to study or intern abroad to help them develop skills to aid in national security and economic prosperity. 

This year’s honorees from the university are:

  • Robertson, who will study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, this summer with the IES Abroad Cape Town: Health Studies program; 
  • Connor Flores, a rising third-year history and German double major, who will study abroad in Vienna, Austria, with IES Abroad Vienna during the spring 2023 semester;
  • Beyah-Vida Garcia, a rising second-year business management major, who is studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, at Universidad Pontificia Comillas during summer 2022;
  • I’Maya Gibbs, a rising third-year history and theater arts double major, who will study abroad in London, England, at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art during the fall 2022 semester;
  • Jennifer Huynh, a rising third-year accounting major, who will study abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, at the University of Edinburgh during the fall 2022 semester;
  • Mandy Huynh, a rising fourth-year chemical engineering major, who will also study abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, at the University of Edinburgh during the fall 2022 semester; and
  • Linus Miller, a rising third-year origins sciences and anthropology double major, who will study abroad in Kenya at the Turkana Basin Field School during the fall 2022 semester.

In addition to the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, award recipients Gibbs and Miller also received scholarships from the Fund for Education Abroad (FEA), which are designed to help make international experiences accessible to all by supporting students who are underrepresented in the U.S. study abroad population, including students of color and first-generation college students. Scholarship programs like this speak to the need for financial support to make international experiences possible, especially in light of recent public health concerns.

“As Case Western Reserve students begin to study abroad again [as pandemic-related travel restrictions ease], the need for funding their experiences has increased,” said Autumn Beechler Stebing, director of the Office of Education Abroad.

To help understand how to make CWRU students more competitive in applying for national scholarship programs, the Office of Education Abroad staff served on review boards for the Gilman and FEA scholarships. 

Their efforts paid off. 

“100% of students who enlisted the assistance of our office were awarded scholarships,” Beechler Stebing said.

As one such student, Jaydah Robertson credits the Office of Education Abroad team—and Beechler Stebing and Assistant Director of Education Abroad Kevin Sullivan in particular—with making her study abroad dreams come to fruition.

“I was hesitant to apply for a national scholarship as I had not had much luck in the past but, Kevin along with Autumn were instrumental in building my self confidence and providing constructive criticism to develop my supplemental essays,” she said.

Now, nearly all of Robertson’s trip has been funded. When she ventures to Cape Town, South Africa, this summer, she will take two courses: Nutrition & HIV and Health & Community, building on her experiences at CWRU, where her research involves sickle cell disease.

Want to study abroad but aren’t sure where to start? The Office of Education Abroad remains open this summer for in-person and virtual advising appointments. In addition, the OEA maintains a database of external study abroad scholarships on its website.