University, federal scholarships help make opportunity possible for junior Mariah Cox

MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University junior Mariah Cox of Campbellsville, Kentucky, participated in the University’s Education Abroad program this summer. Thanks to her selection for the University’s Hunt and Jennye Sue Smock Scholarship for Spanish Language Immersion and the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, Cox was able to spend her summer learning in Mexico at no cost.

Cox, an Honors College student, has been studying at Murray State University since the fall of 2017. She is majoring in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) and plans to eventually work with students from non-English speaking homes. She is minoring in Spanish to complement her degree. Due to her field, studying abroad is a high priority. However, coming from a low-income family made participating in such programs difficult, until the Gilman and Smock scholarships helped make it possible.

This summer, Cox spent a month living in Mérida, Mexico, through the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS) Mérida program. While abroad, she had the opportunity to improve and practice her language skills in context. With her enhanced skillset, Cox will be able to provide a classroom environment that is more accessible to her future students. Additionally, Cox gained firsthand knowledge of the Mayan and Hispanic cultures that are present in Mérida. The program included excursions to various Mayan ruin sites, as well as classes on dance and cooking. 

Murray State University junior Mariah Cox of Campbellsville, Kentucky, participated in the University’s Education Abroad program this summer.

“I faced some linguistic and cultural barriers while abroad, but the program provided me with an experience I will never forget,” Cox said. “Because of this experience, I believe I will be able to be more empathetic and understanding toward my future students.”

The Gilman scholarship is a prestigious award that the Department of State grants to hard-working and deserving college students; the scholarship is awarded to around 30 percent of Federal Pell Grant-eligible applicants. The Gilman scholarship program is committed to making study abroad opportunities possible for those who normally would not be able to afford them.

Murray State University’s Education Abroad program encourages students to challenge themselves to learn anew and interact with people from around the world. There are programs for nearly any field, country or subject in which a student may be interested. Learn more about Education Abroad and scholarship opportunities at murraystate.edu/educationabroad, contact the office by phone at 270-809-2277 or email msu.studyabroad@murraystate.edu.

Students interested in the Gilman scholarship can apply at gilmanapplication.iie.org. Those interested in learning more about the Mérida program and other KIIS offerings may visit kiis.org.

Photo: Murray State University junior Mariah Cox of Campbellsville, Kentucky, participated in the University’s Education Abroad program this summer.

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