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How to Successfully Craft a Gilman Scholarship Essay

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

From the last article I wrote about, I touched upon the written essay portion of the Gilman Scholarship. Now, I will briefly explain the significance behind each, in detail how to best craft one tailored to who you are, your interests, and your goals that you plan on accomplishing from studying abroad. Don’t be too focused only on the word count expectations, this is the least of your concerns. I want you to put valuable meaning in your content and by doing so, this means drawing from your past experiences and hardships. Everyone has their own unique story to share, so no two essays will be alike. Let’s get to it!

Statement of Purpose Essay

The Statement of Purpose Essay (maximum 7,000 characters, including spaces) is essentially laying out the foundation of your academics and specifically, your credit-bearing study abroad program information for the audience. Here you will answer short open-ended questions regarding why you chose your program of study and the host country. This portion highly recommends you state your study abroad program’s logistics and the coursework associated with it. The Gilman Program also wants you thinking ahead and sharing how you would overcome certain difficulties overseas, whether it be cultural adaptation or living independently in a foreign country, based on your prior knowledge and experiences. Furthermore, Gilman will inquire about how your study abroad program will fit into your future educational and/or career aspirations.

Building Mutual Understanding Essay

The Building Mutual Understanding Essay (maximum 3,000 characters, including spaces) offers a potential candidate the opportunity to express how they will contribute to the United States as a citizen diplomat. To be a citizen diplomat is more than just representing yourself as an American overseas, but also establishing and continually building upon meaningful relationships with the people of your host country, even beyond completion of your study abroad program. Good examples that highlight this effort is joining social clubs, student organizations, even volunteering at your host university’s campus. From my own experience abroad, I participated in a Global Buddy Program. This program allowed me to experience the daily lifestyle of my host country by pairing me up with a native and spending some time socializing and doing a variety of activities in the area together.

Follow-On Service Project

The Follow-On Service Project (maximum 3,000 characters, including spaces) is the second part of the Gilman Scholarship essay portion composed of a proposal in the form of an individual project that you will plan and carry out 6 months after you finish your study abroad program. This portion of the essay is a critical factor that determines your eligibility to receive the Gilman Scholarship, alongside the award amount. As a Gilman Program Alumni, you must demonstrate and increase awareness of the Gilman Scholarship to others within your local community. There are many routes towards achieving this, and the target audience can be different groups of cohorts such as high schoolers, undergraduate first-generation students, college freshman, colleagues, and student organizations. Common instances have been fulfilled as simple as presenting a PowerPoint during an info session, participating in your university’s Study Abroad Fair, writing or posting articles that are published and shared online, or speaking at a high school to discuss potential pathways of campus involvement while in college.

While planning, writing, and proofreading your essay, it’s important to remember that being direct and straightforward is key. Keep in mind that the Gilman Essay is not like the essays you typically write in an English composition course. The Gilman Program wants to know everything about you, without giving too much or too less of detailed information. There are great resources to take advantage of in preparation for and during the executing process. You have online websites that provide tips, advice, and ideas/suggestions on things you can mention in your essay. You also have your on-campus Study Abroad or Gilman Advisor, which is an excellent source to utilize because these people may have formal experience in grading students’ essays, and they can provide insight that is helpful yet otherwise exclusive.  

Best of luck on your Gilman Scholarship endeavors!

Morgan is a Hospitality Management major with a minor in the French language. She is an international travel bug who loves to explore the world and experience different cultures. She is a history enthusiast at heart. Catch her anywhere from reading travel blogs, writing, watching historical dramas or docs to tanning at the beach, shopping till she drops, and eating out.