Thursday, December 12, 2013
andrea rionne and charlene higgins

Andrea Dionne and Charlene Higgins have received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to fund study abroad trips in spring 2014.

University of New Hampshire students Andrea Dionne and Charlene Higgins have received Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to fund study abroad trips in spring 2014.

Gilman Scholarships provide up to $5,000 in financial support to students who are traveling abroad on university-approved programs that are four weeks or longer. To be eligible for a Gilman, a student must have financial need, as evidenced by being a Pell grant recipient. Both Dionne and Higgins received the full $5,000 scholarship amount.

The Gilman Scholarship requires that students commit to a “follow on” project upon their return to the United States. These projects help promote the benefits of study abroad and the Gilman program to the university and local communities.

Dionne, a junior linguistics/international affairs dual major from Stratham is headed to Nishinomiya, Japan, in the Kansai region, where Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto are located. She has advanced proficiency in Japanese (she passed the highest level Japanese government proficiency exam) and chose the Kwansei Gakuin University (KGU) program because she will be able to take classes for both her majors taught entirely in Japanese.

“I’m excited about the region KGU is in,” Dionne said. “I’m looking forward to the temples, castles, and traditional gardens, as well as experiencing cherry blossom season.” For her follow-on project, Dionne will do her part to help increase the number of UNH students going to Japan by speaking to Japanese classes here and specifically addressing common questions and concerns about studying in Japan.

Higgins, a senior environmental and resource economics major and Honors program student from Hamburg, NY, will travel to Ecuador on the School for International Training (SIT) program. She is eager to get hands-on experience in the field of development through the SIT program, which includes field-oriented research and the opportunity to study Spanish and Quechua. Through SIT, she’ll have the chance to visit the Amazon, improve her Spanish proficiency, and “learn from others with different life histories and perspectives.” Higgins’ follow-on project will create a bridge between New Hampshire and Ecuador: she will organize an e-tutoring/peer mentorship program between Ecuadorian youth and UNH Spanish students.

Gilman Scholarships are offered twice a year, with deadlines in October and March. Jeanne Sokolowski, the director of the Office of National Fellowships, contacted all UNH Pell grant recipients in September with general information on the scholarship, held several information sessions and worked closely with students applying.

These students were also advised by the Center for International Education on choosing a program that was a fit for their academic and professional plans, which is an essential factor in writing competitive applications for the Gilman. The center will continue its support to the Gilman winners through one-on-one advising, pre-departure orientation and reentry services—similar to the support given to the approximately 25 percent of all UNH students who study abroad.

The winners are also involved in two other Hood House programs: the International Affairs (IA) major (Dionne) and the Honors program (Higgins). The IA program includes language proficiency, study and research abroad, and capstone project and presentation requirements. The Honors program provides an enhanced academic experience for intellectually motivated students.

“The international experience in Japan and Ecuador will prepare these two students to work effectively in a globalized world,” said P.T. Vasudevan, interim senior vice provost for academic affairs at the university. “It will help them gain skills, self-reliance and a world view to compete in a global economy.”

About the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships: The Gilman Program aims to increase the number and diversity of students studying abroad, including students studying in non-traditional countries, especially those outside of Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand; students with diverse ethnic backgrounds; students from a diverse range of institutions; students engaged in non-traditional (for study abroad) fields of study, such as the sciences and engineering; and students with disabilities. For more information, visit

About the Office of National Fellowships: Established in 2005, the UNH Office of National Fellowships provides information, counsel, and editorial support to high achieving students applying for national and international fellowships and scholarships. The services of the Fellowships Office are available to undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni who are interested in opportunities like the Gilman Scholarship. Contact Jeanne Sokolowski at (603) 862-0733 or

Originally published by:

UNH Today

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    Staff writer | Communications and Public Affairs