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Julianna Gray receives Gilman International Scholarship to study in Spain

Published on July 17, 2020

Julianna Gray receives Gilman International Scholarship to study in Spain

Julianna GrayJulianna Gray ’23 of Waterford, CT, has been named the recipient of a $4,000 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in Spain. The U.S. Department of State made the announcement on July 9.

Sponsored by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is an undergraduate program that supports U.S. citizens of limited financial means to study abroad, broadening their cultural perspectives and better preparing them to succeed in the global economy. 

Gray, an elementary education and Spanish major, successfully applied for the award during the January–March 2020 application cycle. She was originally planning to go to Spain this fall. Due to COVID-19, the Gilman program is allowing award winners to defer their travels. Gray is rearranging her schedule to go in the spring or summer of 2021.

Gray said receiving the Gilman award will help her achieve her lifelong dream of studying abroad, learning other cultures, gaining language proficiency and traveling. Her goal is to become a bilingual teacher. 

“My family conversed in Spanish, but English was always spoken to me. In high school, I became determined to learn Spanish because I wanted to know the language of my heritage and to learn more about my culture and other cultures as well. I took Spanish classes from sophomore to senior year, joined the Spanish Honor Society, and even received the Connecticut Seal of Biliteracy for Spanish.” 

Gray became interested in teaching in high school while a member of the Spanish Honor Society. “I loved seeing the students so enthusiastic about learning Spanish and took great pleasure in teaching them.”

Julia DeLapp, director of Eastern’s Center for Early Childhood Education and coordinator of the university’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, commended Gray for her commitment to pursuing the study abroad program.  “Julianna had many of the criteria in her background that Gilman values, and she made a really strong case for going to Spain. She thought deeply about how her career goals connected to this opportunity. She put together a strong application. She has determination and drive, and the scholarship fit her career trajectory. That came through in her application.”

The last time Eastern had a Gilman winner was in 2017. Previous winners included Negeena Niazi, who won a scholarship in 2017 to study in China; Sierra Colon-Rivera, who interned in South Africa in 2016; and Brandan Sumeersarnauth, who went to Japan to study in 2015.

Written by Dwight Bachman