Appalachian announces first Gilman Scholarship recipients of 2020

The Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships (NCS), a division of University College at Appalachian State University, announces four Appalachian students have been awarded the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Recipients will study or intern abroad during spring and summer 2020.

Scholarship recipients Ivasun Carter, Leah Carver and Asia Griffis, students in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Sanam Geranmayeh, a student in the Beaver College of Health Sciences, will study in Spain, Uganda, Japan and Italy, respectively.  

The goal of the Gilman Scholarship program is to broaden the student population that studies or interns abroad by supporting undergraduate students of limited financial means. This award cycle comprised 1,413 recipients from 427 colleges and universities and 95 countries of study.

Carter, who is pursuing a B.S. in political science–a pre-professional legal studies with a minor in Spanish, discussed his upcoming trip. "I am heading to Valencia, Spain, for the entire Spring semester with the hopes of furthering my Spanish education. I believe that this will be beneficial for me personally as well as professionally since my translation and communication skills will be escalated."

Although Carter described the Gilman application process as “nerve-wracking,” he encouraged other prospective students to stay true to themselves. “I continued to just be myself and let the team at Gilman know who I truly was, which they seemed to like.”

Carver, an honors student earning a B.S. in biology with a concentration in ecology, evolution, and environmental biology, is traveling to Uganda in May and will work with a nonprofit agency known as the Conservation Through Public Health, which works to protect endangered mountain gorillas of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the surrounding villages.

Carver explained the two-part approach of the organization: “They track the gorillas and monitor their health, as well as educate the locals about sanitation and reproductive practices (they can use) to lead healthier lives and decrease the spread of zoonotic diseases.” 

She shared her initial thoughts concerning the Gilman award. “I never suspected I would (earn the Gilman), but now a once-in-a-lifetime experience is possible. That could happen for anyone.” 

Geranmayeh, a health care management major, is no stranger to international travel. “When my family moved to America in pursuit of job opportunities, I experienced feelings of anxiety and exhilaration that have started to resurface as I prepare to embark on another international move.”

She shared a few lessons learned through traveling. “Traveling, especially internationally, yields experiences that classrooms and history books simply can’t imitate.”

She added, “Anyone is capable of memorizing a few significant dates for an exam, but it is not until you are actually walking through the cobblestone streets of Rome or riding a Gondola through the Venetian canals that you really begin to develop an appreciation for the historical pieces to the puzzle of humanity's past.”

Geranmayeh will spend four months in a full language immersion program at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Italy.

Griffis, who is earning a B.A. in languages, literatures and cultures with a concentration in East Asian languages and cultures, will study in Japan from late March to the end of July, in a full language immersion program. She said she hopes to speak as little English as possible.

Discussing the Gilman application process, Griffis said, “It’s a challenging experience that can feel like it takes forever, but at the end of it, you feel a lot more confident in your ability to work hard and produce something you can be proud of.”

Encouraging others, she stated, “To anyone applying to or thinking of applying to the Gilman Scholarship in the future, or any scholarship they’re interested in, believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s a tough process and I couldn’t have gotten through it without support.” 

Since its inception in 2001, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship has provided funding for 31,000 award recipients, from 1,324 U.S. institutions, to study or intern in 149 countries. The awards are sponsored by the U.S Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 in funding to study or intern abroad with additional funding available for the study of critical languages overseas.

By supporting undergraduates students who have high financial need, the program has successfully supported students who have been historically underrepresented in education abroad, including, but not limited to first-generation college students, those in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, veterans and active-duty military members, and students attending community colleges and minority-serving institutions.

Students studying abroad in summer 2020, fall 2020, spring 2021 and the full 2020–21 academic year who are Pell Grant-eligible are encouraged to apply for the next Gilman Scholarship application cycle, the deadline for which is March 3.

For more information about the Gilman Scholarship program and how to apply, contact NCS at or visit

By Terri Lockwood

About Nationally Competitive Scholarships

Nationally Competitive Scholarships (NCS) works with the Appalachian community to recruit and support students for nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships, including those that support research, teaching, and critical language learning. This is achieved with outreach, mentorship, and advising throughout the entire application and selection process. NCS is committed to helping undergraduate, and graduate students find ways to connect their Appalachian education to their future endeavors through scholarship opportunities. Learn more at

About the College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at

About the College of Fine and Applied Arts

Appalachian State University's College of Fine and Applied Arts is a dynamic and innovative group of seven academic departments, bringing together a variety of perspectives, experiences and real-world education to provide unique opportunities for student success. The college has more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate majors. Its departments are Applied Design, Art, Communication, Military Science and Leadership, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and Theatre and Dance. Learn more at

About the Beaver College of Health Sciences

Appalachian's Beaver College of Health Sciences opened in 2010 as the result of a strategic university commitment to significantly enhance the health and quality of life for individuals, families and communities in North Carolina and beyond. In 2015, the college was named for an Appalachian alumnus and pioneer in the health care industry — Donald C. Beaver ’62 ’64 of Conover. The college offers nine undergraduate degree programs and seven graduate degree programs, which are organized into six departments: Communication Sciences and Disorders; Health and Exercise Science; Nursing; Nutrition and Health Care Management; Recreation Management and Physical Education; and Social Work. Learn more at

About the Office of International Education and Development

The OIED is responsible for spearheading the internationalization efforts at Appalachian. The internationalization mission of Appalachian is to develop awareness, knowledge, appreciation and respect of cultural differences in both domestic and international contexts in its students, faculty, staff and the surrounding communities. The university is also dedicated to creating a campus environment that builds the theoretical and practical skills needed to interact effectively in a global society. Learn more at

About University College

Formed in 2007, University College consists of the university's general education program, faculty and student support, and co-curricular programming and support – all designed to support the work of students both inside and outside the classroom. All students at Appalachian begin their education in University College and benefit from its programs until they graduate. Learn more at

About Appalachian State University

As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

Published: Jan 23, 2020 8:39am