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UNF students gain study abroad opportunities with Gilman Scholarship

Traveling to other countries and immersing oneself in different cultures is a great way to gain knowledge and learn about the world.  
Two standout University of North Florida students, Damien Jackson and Keila Smith, will soon have that opportunity to experience this firsthand as national Gilman Scholarship recipients. Both students received the scholarship for the October 2023 application cycle, allowing them to study abroad later this year. 
The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program gives students from around the country opportunities to study abroad. Its mission is to develop a generation of future American leaders who represent the rich diversity of the nation. According to its website, the much sought after Gilman Scholarship is quite competitive, with only 1 in 4 applicants being selected each year for the scholarship.
UNF student and Gilman Scholar Damien JacksonMeet Damien Jackson
An honors student, Damien Jackson is in his junior year, majoring in financial planning. During spring break, the Jacksonville native and first-generation college student will attend the European Business School in Paris (EBS Paris) with Coggin College of Business faculty and students, to learn about various subjects from corporate payouts to fintech innovations. Jackson hopes to become a financial planner to help those with limited resources gain financial knowledge. He says he is excited to travel abroad for the first time and experience European culture.
“It’s a huge opportunity to learn and to use this experience to help myself, my family and future generations,” said Jackson. “Having a scholarship like the Gilman helps immensely.”
UNF student and Gilman Scholar Keila SmithMeet Keila Smith
Also a Jacksonville native and first-generation college student, Keila Smith is a junior majoring in fine arts with a concentration in painting and drawing. She will travel to Dublin, Ireland in the summer with other fine arts majors to learn Irish mythology and collaborate with experienced illustrators on a children’s book. Aspiring to become a professional illustrator, Smith says studying abroad gives her a chance to improve her digital drawing skills.
“It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to go abroad to enhance my education,” said Smith. “The Gilman Scholarship has made that possible for me.”
Application Details
The Gilman student application for programs offered from summer 2024 through spring 2025 is still open until Thursday, March 7, though there will be opportunities to apply after that for programs next spring.
The Director of the UNF Fellowships Office, Dr. Tiffany Kershner, can assist students with their applications for the Gilman Scholarship and other prestigious fellowships. Learn more about fellowships and book an appointment.