Five WWU Students Awarded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to Study Abroad in '22-'23

Five students from Western Washington University have been awarded U.S. Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to study abroad during the 2022-2023 academic year. The U.S. Department of State's Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program is a nationally competitive and highly distinguished scholarship program awarding students who display financial need and receive a Federal Pell Grant as part of their financial aid package the opportunity to study or intern abroad.

Awards range from $1,000 to $5,000, and up to $8,000 for students studying a critical need language such as Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, or Arabic. A large part of the Gilman Program's mission is to increase the number of U.S. students going abroad to help them gain critical skills for their future careers and academic work.

Western’s Education Abroad office strives to connect students with studying abroad opportunities through a number of programs like 1-on-1 and group advising, weekly information sessions, scholarship opportunities, and assisting students with applications – such as the Gilman scholarship – and more.

Hannah Nevitt, Western’s Education Abroad adviser, said that supporting students with limited financial means, navigating the process of applying for study abroad, and coaching nationally competitive scholarships are her most treasured responsibilities -- especially for those students that don’t think study abroad is an option for them.

“As professionals in the field of international education, we know that studying abroad is a ‘high-impact’ experience,” said Nevitt. “Our students gain language abilities, leadership skills, self-confidence, and an appreciation for global citizenship and building mutual understanding. Quite frankly, their global lens and impact potential is completely transformed.”

According to Nevitt, WWU has many affordable study abroad programs, and even programs that allow for students to “Pay Less than In-State", or Pay WWU In-State Resident rates for tuition and fees on our WWU Exchanges, or through ISEP Exchange for a semester or year, (even for out of state students).

WWU student Grace Lagorio on a hike in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico while studying abroad.

For the 2022-2023 scholarship cycle, 15 of the 22 Western students that applied for a Gilman Scholarship received one. In the most recent March 2023 deadline, Western had its highest ever number of students submitting applications with 33 students applying for the scholarship, according to Nevitt. These winners will be announced in May.

The Western students who received Gilman scholarships for the 2022-2023 school year and their destinations include:

● Ben Bierle (Gardiner, Montana) is majoring in Marine and Coastal Science at Western. He is studying abroad on a field-based Island Ecosystems program through Wildlands Studies in New Zealand during Spring Quarter 2023.

● Aidan Espinosa (Arlington) is a Drama major and Sociology minor at Western. He is studying abroad at the University of Auckland in New Zealand from February through July 2023.

● Ryan Ertman (Arcata, California) is an interdisciplinary major studying mental health counseling and multidisciplinary writing. He studied abroad on a faculty-led program to Senegal during Winter Quarter 2023.

● Dio Jean-Bapiste (Seattle) is majoring in Japanese and East Asian Studies and is currently studying abroad in Tokyo, Japan through the KCP Language School for the 2022-2023 academic year.

● Grace Lagorio (Arlington) is majoring in English with a Multilingual Education emphasis and Teaching Endorsement. She studied abroad in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico on a faculty-led program from January to March 2023.

For more information about affordable study abroad options and the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship program at Western, contact Hannah Nevitt at or visit Western’s Education Abroad website at