MURRAY, Ky. — Two Murray State University students — Charesa Rogers of Oak Grove and Vanessa Smith of Calvert City — have been selected as recipients of the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study or intern abroad in summer 2018.

The Gilman scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by the Institute of International Education. The Gilman scholarship offers opportunities for students to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies — thus making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within the government or private sector. Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship programs.

“This particular scholarship allows students who might not otherwise be able to afford to study abroad the opportunity to do so without financial worries,” said Robyn Pizzo, an education abroad advisor who worked with both students to strengthen their applications for the Gilman scholarship. “They can focus on the academics of the program and the experiences they are having abroad rather than worrying about money.”

Rogers and Smith, who are both studying animal/veterinary technology and pre-veterinary medicine in the Hutson School of Agriculture, are two of approximately 1,200 undergraduate students from more than 350 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected as recipients of the summer 2018 scholarship. Rogers will be studying in Thailand, while Smith will be studying in Costa Rica.

“As a nontraditional, married student, I was skeptical about the availability of studying abroad — especially since my major is so strict on the courses I take to be able to graduate within a four-year time span,” Rogers said. “But I decided to study abroad because I found an option that allows me to focus on the necessary subjects and gives me advanced opportunities while still allowing me to enjoy a new culture and the experience of Thailand.”

Smith’s program in Costa Rica, known as the Conservation Animal Rescue and Eco Studies Project, offers pre-veterinary students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field while facing problems threatening biodiversity in Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. Rogers, meanwhile, will complete a Loop Abroad program in Thailand to gain clinical skills working at a dog shelter and volunteering with rescued elephants.

“Studying abroad opens your eyes to a new way of understanding and expands one’s abilities within the world — whether that be through international connections, lifelong friendships or even a better career opportunity,” Smith said. “I feel that studying abroad is one of the best ways to better oneself if the opportunity can be afforded. And, thankfully, the Gilman scholarship and our Murray State study abroad advisors have helped me with that.”

Students who receive a Federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions are eligible to apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Award amounts vary depending on program length and student need. Funding from the award must be used to support the costs of studying or interning abroad, including program tuition, room and board, books, local transportation, insurance, international airfare and passport fees.

Visit for more information about study abroad and scholarship opportunities.

About the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs: For more than 50 years the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has sought to cultivate mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly and peaceful relations, as mandated by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. ECA accomplishes its mission through a variety of exchange programs and other initiatives that support mutual understanding by protecting cultural heritage across the globe and providing educational resources for people interested in learning about American culture and the English language. ECA programs engage participants from a variety of backgrounds and specialties. For more information about ECA programs, initiatives and achievements, visit

About the Institute of International Education: The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas.  An independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1919, the Institute is the world’s most experienced global higher education and professional exchange organization.  IIE has a network of 19 offices worldwide working with more than 1,200 member institutions and over 6,000 individuals with a commitment to the internationalization of their institutions.  IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources. These programs include the Fulbright and Humphrey Fellowships administered for the U.S. Department of State.  The Institute is a resource for educators and institutions worldwide (, publishing the Open Doors Report and operating IIEPassport. org and search engines for study abroad program and study abroad scholarships.  For more information, please contact the Gilman International Scholarship at

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