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Published on June 09, 2021

Aicha Ly Wins Gilman Scholarship

Aicha Ly

Gilman Scholarship Winner

Political science major Aicha Ly has been selected to win a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study in Costa Rica. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Sate’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the scholarship provides support to undergraduate students for studying or interning abroad. Ly plans to use her scholarship to study migration, human rights and the Spanish language in Costa Rica over Wintersession. She will also live with a host family to maximize her cultural experience.

Ly plans to pursue a career in international law, with a focus on human rights and immigration issues. An active member of Eastern's campus, she has served on the College Democrats, FEMALES, the NAACP, the Muslim Student Association, and ConNOTicuts.  

“Many people will think that spending three weeks in a tropical country sounds like the perfect getaway,” said Ly. “However, this opportunity is more than a vacation to me. The Winter in Costa Rica program focuses on human rights and migration while emphasizing cultural and linguistic immersion.  

“Human rights and migration are topics I am very passionate about,” continued Ly. “As a member of Generation Z, which is used to having the world at their fingertips and no shortage of human rights issues to explore through the web and social media, I believe it is important to be informed and to act on the behalf of human rights. We are the leaders of the future, and we should create a better future by creating the change we want to see. That starts with awareness and advocacy.” 

While in Costa Rica, Ly hopes to gain new friends to “expand my non-blood related family.” She also hopes to improve her Spanish “so I can grow my connections through the destruction of linguistic barriers.”  

Regarding human rights and migration issues, Ly said, “I want to learn about the opinions of locals in Central America. Perhaps this will allow me to see some patterns regarding human rights issues that are transferable to other countries, allowing me to analyze causes and effects.” 

Ly aspires to become an attorney and is particularly interested in matters concerning refugees and people seeking asylum. “For this reason, I can see myself going into immigration law.”  

More than 1,500 U.S. undergraduate students attending 467 U.S. colleges were selected to receive the Gilman scholarship, according to the U.S. Department of State in its May announcement. The latest group of Gilman Scholars will receive up to $5,000 to study or intern in 96 countries through the end of 2022. 

Ly is one of 6 Eastern students to be awarded the Gilman scholarship over the past decade.

The late U.S. Rep. Benjamin 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 said, “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.”