Four Students Receive Gilman Scholarships to Study Abroad this Summer

Gilman Scholars Summer 2018

MACON – The U.S. Department of State recently announced that four Mercer University students are among 1,201 American undergraduates from 363 colleges and universities selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study or intern this summer.

This brings Mercer’s total number of Gilman Scholars to 10 for the 2017-2018 academic year.

“As Mercer places more emphasis on engaged learning opportunities, the Gilman Scholarship is important to make transformative study abroad experiences available to all students,” said Dr. David A. Davis, associate professor of English and director of scholarships and fellowships. “Our students’ success  with the scholarship this year will lead to exciting international experiences for these students, and it paves the way for many more students to apply in the future.”

Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs with additional funding available for the study of a critical language overseas.

Rising senior Alicia Williams, a global health studies major from Riverdale, will participate in a Mercer On Mission trip to the Dominican Republic studying water sanitation and indoor air quality effects on health.

Rising junior Shakti Biswas, a double-major in biology and Spanish from Marietta, will study abroad in Seville, Spain, where he will stay with a host family and travel to Toledo and Cordoba.

Rising junior Alyssa Fortner, a double-major in international affairs and global development studies from Chickamauga, will participate in a Mercer On Mission trip to Cape Town, South Africa, where she will work with local schools for three weeks before beginning a two-month internship with Iliso Care Society working with disadvantaged women and youth.

Rising junior Brittany Tran, a neuroscience major from Danielsville, will participate in a Mercer On Mission trip to Vietnam to fit low-cost prosthetics designed at Mercer on Vietnamese amputees who lost limbs primarily due to land mines left from the Vietnam War. She will also serve as a translator.

Additionally, rising junior Colton Sowash, a double-major in finance and economics from Buford, was selected as an alternate for the scholarship.

The Gilman Scholarship has enabled more than 25,000 outstanding Americans of diverse backgrounds to engage in a meaningful educational experience abroad. The program has successfully broadened U.S. participation in study abroad, while emphasizing countries and regions where fewer Americans traditionally study.

The late Congressman Gilman, for whom the scholarship is named, served in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee. When honored with the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2002, he commented, “Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

The Gilman Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

About the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

The mission of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is to build relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, professional and private exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships and mentoring programs. These exchange programs improve foreign relations and strengthen the national security of the United States. ECA programs, funding, and other activities encourage the involvement of American and international participants from traditionally underrepresented groups, including women, racial and ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities. Artists, educators, athletes, students, youth and rising leaders in the United States and more than 160 countries around the globe participate in academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges. For more information about ECA programs, initiatives and achievements, visit

About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education (IIE) works with policymakers, educators and employers across the globe to prepare students and professionals for the global workforce and equip them to solve the increasingly complex challenges facing our interconnected world. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 18 offices and affiliates worldwide and more than 1,300 member institutions.