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Emerson Sets Record for Study Abroad Scholarships

Before this academic year, only 11 Emerson College students had ever received a Gilman Scholarship. This year alone, nine Emersonians qualified for the State Department study abroad grant.

There is one major reason for the incredible increase: Rebekah Dale.

Rebekah Dale
Rebekah Dale

Dale began working as Associate Director for Education Abroad & Domestic Programs in July 2023. With her came the knowledge of the Gilman Scholarship, as she sits on the Gilman national review panel. She knows exactly what applications needs.

“I can’t guarantee a scholarship, but for students who are willing to work on their essays with me, I can at least help them have a better chance of receiving one,” said Dale. “For reference, the national average of applicants to recipients for the Gilman is 4:1, whereas students who work with me have a 3:1 ratio.”

The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program “…enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, providing them with skills critical to our national security and economic prosperity.” Applicants must be receiving a federal Pell Grant during the time of application, or prove that they will be receiving a Pell Grant during the term of their study abroad program or internship. Scholarship money can be used on flights, passports, visas, and more.

For students like Oluwatimileyin Oladunjoye ’26, who is receiving a $3,500 Gilman Scholarship, its significantly cutting the cost of his program in London during the upcoming winter break. For several weeks, he will be working at some of the top law firms, working on closed cases and briefing them with the firms’ lawyers.

Oluwatimileyin Oladunjoye ’26
Oluwatimileyin Oladunjoye ’26

“Being a recipient of the Gilman Scholarship is honestly a life-changing program to be a part of,” said Oladunjoye. “During the entire application process, I put 110 percent in for the hope of acceptance, and when I got that email from Miss Dale, and the call from [Vice Provost, Internationalization & Equity] Dr. Tony Pinder at the same time to congratulate me for getting accepted, it was best feeling I had felt all semester.”

Oladunjoye benefitted from Dale’s efforts to spread the word about the Gilman Scholarship. She asked her colleagues if she could be the primary scholarship advisor, something that Emerson hadn’t had prior to her hiring. She developed a study abroad scholarship website and started offering info sessions and advising appointments.

To spread the word, the office created social media posts, flyers, and put info in study abroad acceptance emails about these scholarship opportunities as well. Dale also worked with Financial Aid to get a list of Pell Grant recipients who she emailed multiple times about their eligibility for the Gilman Scholarship prior to each cycle deadline.

“I’ve done some networking around campus so that staff and faculty know that there is someone that they can point students to when they need additional support on top of their regular financial aid for these programs,” added Dale.

Liberty Hens
Liberty Hens ’25

Liberty Hens ’25 is using the $5,000 grant for her semester at Kasteel Well this fall.

“I truly appreciate this scholarship’s support, as it enables me to pursue such a great opportunity that I otherwise may not have been able to,” said Hens.

Like the students, Dale is also excited about their being recipients of Gilman Scholarships, and it’s also very personal.

“One of the reasons why I am so passionate about this topic is that I was also a Pell Grant recipient (high financial need) in college and managed to study abroad six times for free, thanks to scholarships and financial aid,” said Dale. “It has become one of my goals in life to help other students do the same.”

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