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UTSA students selected as national award recipients

Eight UTSA students receive competitive national Gilman Award for spring 2013.

By Sherrie Voss Matthews, International Media & Marketing Coordinator

Guillermo Hernandez received the email while he was coming back to UTSA from his home in Houston. He learned that paying for his planned study abroad this spring was going to be a little easier.

Guillermo Hernandez
Guillermo Hernandez

He was one of eight UTSA students who received grants from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. The congressionally funded program is sponsored by the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It offers awards for U.S. undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad.

“It’s an awesome feeling not to have to worry about the money anymore,” Hernandez adds, explaining that he had to wipe the tears off of his face while he riding the MegaBus back to San Antonio. He’s counting the days until he leaves for the Universidade do sul de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, in Florianópolis, Brazil.

Fluent in Portugese and Spanish, Hernandez plans to take international economics and cultural studies courses in Portuguese.

The other students who will receive awards include:

Maria Munoz
  • Raquel De La Garza, junior, mechanical engineering, junior, Italy, $5,000
  • Kevin Forester, senior, Spanish, Argentina $4,500
  • Ana Garcia, junior, psychology, Italy $3,500
  • Tori Gillum, sophomore, political science, Argentina $3,500
  • Ricardo Gonzalez, senior, history, Italy $3,500
  • Guillermo Hernandez, junior, management, Brazil $4,500
  • Maria Munoz, senior, management, China $3,500
  • Esther Reyes, senior, modern languages, Costa Rica $5,000

UTSA had more Gilman recipients than neighboring Texas institutions, including The Univeristy of Texas at Austin (7), Our Lady of the Lake University (1), Texas A&M University (4), Texas Tech University (3), Trinity University (1), University of the Incarnate Word (2) and University of North Texas (1)

Maria Munoz went to Abu Dhabi this past summer with the College of Business on one of its international immersion programs.

“Going to Abi Dhabi was kind of a spontaneous thing,” Munoz explains. She applied last-minute and, “I thought, ‘Well, why not, if they say no, then I’ll just live my life the way I’ve been living it,’ but they said ‘yes’ and it changed my life.”

Esther Reyes

The summer immersion gave her the confidence she needed to apply for a full semester exchange program with Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Meanwhile, Esther Reyes plans to be fluent in Spanish by the end of her program in Costa Rica. “If I immerse myself totally in it, I will learn it,” she says.

Ricardo Gonzalez
Ricardo Gonzalez

Ricardo Gonzalez, who will be participating in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts’ semester at the University of Urbino, plans to immerse himself in architecture and construction while there. The Gilman will allow him to do more traveling than he’d originally planned to do; he hopes to make stops in Germany and Auschwitz, on his way home he plans to travel to Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, London and Dublin.

Tori Gillum
Tori Gillum

Tori Gillum and Kevin Forester didn’t plan it that way, but both will be attending the same program in Argentina this spring.

Gillum saw Argentina as a good alternative to the typical study abroad experience:  “I didn’t want to go to Spain. Everyone goes to Spain.”

Kevin Forester
Kevin Forester

Forester, who is considering becoming a Foreign Service officer, plans to use the upcoming semester as a test to see if living abroad is something he really wants to do. He plans to learn the tango and check out the music scene in his spare time.

“It’s a really good opportunity to meet people away home, make friendships, and since everyone knows social networking we can develop international connections,” Forester says.

Raquel De La Garza,
Raquel De La Garza

The Gilman Scholarship Program is open to U.S. citizen undergraduate students who are receiving federal Pell grants and are planning to study abroad.

Students interested in applying for the Gilman Scholarship Program should visit iie.org/gilman and discuss possibilities with the staff at Education Abroad Services, MB 1.210.