COD Recognized As a Top 20 Producer of Gilman Scholars

By: News Bureau

A group of COD students stand together in front of a large rock formation during a COD field studies excursion.

College of DuPage has been recognized by the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program for its support of student travel abroad experiences.

COD has produced 16 Gilman Scholars since 2001, placing it among the top 20 associate degree awarding institutions, nationwide. Since the program began, more than 34,000 Gilman Scholars from the U.S. have studied or interned in more than 155 countries around the globe, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of State. The Gilman Program, which celebrates its 20-year anniversary this year, helps make it possible for students to have this educational adventure. The prestigious scholarship covers up to $5,000 for study abroad experiences.

Pell Grant-eligible students, who have the highest needs for financial assistance to attend college, often don’t consider studying abroad due to the additional expenses involved. This makes programs like Gilman Scholars vital to expanding access to international education opportunities, said COD Coordinator of Study Abroad Susan Kerby.

“The Gilman Scholarship had been a critical component in expanding access to our study abroad programs,” she said. “As a community college, we recognize the value of study abroad for all students and work diligently to help reduce the financial barriers if they exist. The Gilman has been a very important part of this for us.”

Gilman Scholars often choose COD summer language immersion programs, which range from $4,000 to $6,000, Kerby said.

“Every profession they might choose to go into will have global components,” she said. “Study abroad experience provides another reference point to help students understand the perspectives of people from other cultures and other countries. They can compare and contrast their lived experiences with those of the people they meet.”

Students who have studied in other countries through these programs may pique the interest of hiring managers, she added.

“Employers are looking for global experience, whether it is speaking another language or understanding cultural differences,” Kerby said. “When students study abroad, it’s creating a story that they can tell about themselves that is unique to them – that not all community college students have.”

The U.S. Department of State’s annual Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange frequently ranks COD as a leader in providing study abroad experiences to the general student body.

COD study abroad program participants’ high level of curiosity has only increased over the years, Kerby said. While Spain, England, Ireland and Costa Rica have remained popular, experiences in South Korea and Japan are increasingly in demand. In the past six months, interest in study abroad has risen, which Kerby said may stem from increased awareness during the COVID-19 pandemic of global interactions. Several students have applied for the Gilman Scholarship this year.

COD’s Field and Experiential Learning, Study Abroad and Global Education department advises students as they apply for the Gilman scholarship. Learn more at cod.edu/field or email fssa@cod.edu for more information.