Orange Coast College has been recognized as one of the top schools in the nation for helping students of diverse backgrounds study abroad after several received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

Of the 10,340 national college students who applied to the scholarship during the 2016-2017 academic year, 2,922 were selected. For the first time, three of them were OCC students, and each received an award of up to $5,000. Two OCC students spent the summer in Italy and one spent the summer in the United Kingdom.

The Gilman Scholarship makes travel accessible for American undergraduates with financial need to study and intern abroad. It is a congressionally funded program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, named after the late congressman Benjamin A. Gilman from New York.

Since the program’s establishment in 2001, more than 1,300 U.S. institutions have sent more than 25,000 Gilman scholars to 145 countries around the globe.

“Gilman is a scholarship provided nationwide for Pell eligible students wanting to study abroad,” OCC Associate Dean of Global Engagement Nathan Jensen said. A Pell Grant is a subsidy of the U.S. federal government that assists students with financial need who have not yet earned their first bachelor’s degree.

“For the 2016-2017 academic year, three OCC students were granted the Gilman award and OCC was named as one of the top producing Gilman scholarships at the associate level,” Jensen said.

According to the Gilman Scholarship website, top producing institutions are highlighted for their success in sending the most first-generation college students, racial or ethnic minority students, students with disabilities, and students studying science, technology, engineering or math.

“Being in the top overall total degrees awarded is a significant achievement,” said OCC Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Technology Andreea Serban. “Although the application process is quite involved, I would encourage students to apply. I would encourage anyone attending OCC to participate in at least one semester abroad.”

Jensen agreed.

“A student who studies abroad is more likely to be engaged in their studies, more likely to finish their education,” he said. “Study abroad is known to be a high impact practice, a high student success rate.”

Gilman international study abroad programs encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries and world regions. Students of all majors or areas of study can apply. The program also encourages students to study languages — especially critical need languages important to national security. Critical need languages include Arabic, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Turkish.

Applications for spring and summer abroad 2019 will be available online August 2018 at gilmanscholarship.org.

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