Four Michigan Technological University students—Margaret Buehl, Kaye LaFond, Paul Sleik and Lindsey Whitfield—have been named recipients of Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships. They received more funding than students from any other Michigan university in this round of scholarships.
The Gilman Scholarship is a federal grant established in 2000 to help undergraduates fund studies abroad. Since the scholarship’s inception, seven Michigan Tech students won a Gilman.
Buehl, a fourth-year student majoring in service systems engineering, received $4,000 to study in Alicante, Spain. She says she is looking forward to fully immersing herself in Spanish culture and becoming fluent in the Spanish language. She is from Hastings, Mich., and is the daughter of Jeff and Nancy Buehl.
LaFond, a fourth-year student majoring in environmental engineering and applied ecology, received $3,000 toward study in Amman, Jordan. Her studies focus on the Arabic language and water resources. Originally from Howell, Mich., she is the daughter of Anthony and Karen LaFond.
"I am currently studying abroad, and I can’t even begin to discern which part is most memorable," LaFond says. "I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s a three-way tie between learning Arabic, meeting so many wonderful people and seeing Petra—a historic city with rock-cut architecture."
Sleik, a third-year mechanical engineering major, received $3,500 for study in Prague, Czech Republic. He says he is eager to make new friends on his trip—both fellow students and Czech citizens. Sleik is from Iron Mountain, Mich., and is the son of James and Debra Sleik.
Whitfield, a third-year mathematics major, received $4,500 toward studies in Pau, France. A native of Marquette, Mich., she is the daughter of Lantz and Cindy Whitfield.
"My main goal is to become fluent in the language," Whitfield says. "I also look forward to immersing myself in the culture. I plan on staying with a host family while I am there and seeing as much of Europe as I can! I am very thankful for the Gilman Scholarship because it has truly made it possible for me to afford to study abroad."
Students currently receiving federal Pell grants are eligible for Gilman Scholarships. The program aims to better prepare students for participation in an increasingly global economy by helping them study abroad.
Recent research has validated the positive effects of study-abroad programs by finding higher graduation rates, improved cross-cultural knowledge and improved academic performance among those who have studied abroad.
"This program is an excellent opportunity—especially for Michigan Tech students," says Greta Gustafson, the University’s study-abroad coordinator. "The Gilman Scholarship is not $100 or $200. It’s thousands of dollars. It really gives students a chance to explore other cultures, something they might not be able to do otherwise."