Travel scholarships up for grabs

by Chandler Atkins, Staff Writer

In order to help ease the financial toll of traveling to a foreign country, San Diego State  provides students with the opportunity to apply for several scholarships.

Although there is more than enough scholarship money to go around, Inemesit Williams, assistant director for the International Student Center, said not many students apply for them.

“I cannot express how many times I have heard people say ‘I would have applied but I didn’t think I would get it,” Williams said. “A lot of students fear that other people will have similar stories and that their story isn’t going to be unique or valid enough.”

Williams said she encourages all students to start the scholarship process as early as possible so that they have enough time to write an exceptional essay.

“If you start early, it’s a lot less daunting,” she said. “And a lot of the time what seems like a lot of work only has to be done once. If you do one really good statement of purpose you start out with a really solid statement which can be changed slightly for all the other scholarships.”

Students like Junior anthropology major Katrina Chavez have already taken the first steps on their journey to study abroad.

“I recently submitted an application to the Gilman Scholarship,” Chavez said. “I have not been awarded it yet, but it is up to $5,000 with the average being $4,000. Although it took a good amount of time to complete the essay, the payoff will be well worth it.”

Junior business management major Chelsey Smith, currently studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, said he knows how real that pay off can be.

“I have no financial assistance from my family so I rely fully on scholarships and government assistance,” Smith wrote in an email.  “It has been great to have to take out fewer loans than I would have had to without the scholarships.”

Ryan McLemore, study abroad advisor and scholarship specialist, explained some of the ways students can gain more insight into the application process.

“Students can easily search for many international scholarships in the Aztecs Abroad database after they create a basic profile,” McLemore said.“We also have good information on our Scholarship webpage. Many SDSU colleges and academic departments now have their own awards in addition to several national and international organizations.”

Williams said she encourages students to take full advantage of the financial assistance while they have the chance.

“This is probably the only time in a student’s life where they’re going to be able to live somewhere else and actually have someone pay for it,” she said. “With a vacation you take pictures; say you’ve been there and say you’ve seen it. But when you study abroad, you often times get a lot more immersive, memorable experience that will last well beyond your visit.”