By Katie Neitz

Studying abroad introduces students to new experiences, perspectives, and cultures, providing an invaluable opportunity for personal and professional growth. However, even with generous aid available to students through the College, for some, these opportunities can feel out of reach. Fortunately, Lafayette’s Office of International and Off-Campus Education helps students find support that can make their study abroad dreams a reality. 

This past spring, four students applied for funding through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and received grants ranging from $4,000 to $5,000 to support international educational or internship opportunities. The Gilman Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, supports study abroad for students who are Pell grant recipients. As part of the College’s efforts to increase participation in study abroad among underrepresented, first-generation, and low-income students, Lafayette’s Office of International and Off-Campus Education worked closely with the Office of Financial Aid to reach out directly to all eligible students in order to raise awareness about this important scholarship opportunity.

“We are thrilled to have four recipients of this scholarship,” says Rochelle Keesler, director of the Office of International and Off-Campus Education. “Our goal is to continue to educate students about the advantages of studying abroad, ways that Lafayette supports financially aided students to go abroad, and to assist students with the application process for outside scholarships like the Gilman. Study abroad is an important component of the Lafayette experience. I don’t want any student to believe that it is not for them. Students who are considering studying abroad but have financial or other concerns, should come see us to learn more about opportunities for support.”

Here, learn more about the student recipients and their travel plans.


Denisse Villegas sits and smiles with a view of an international city behind her

Denisse Villegas is studying in the U.K. this summer.

Denisse Villegas ’25 (psychology)

This summer, Villegas is studying abroad in the U.K., taking a four-week course, “Social and Ethical Aspects of Health Care in the U.S. and U.K.,” followed by a four-week internship program. 

“This opportunity to study abroad is important to me because it would be my first time traveling to Europe,” she says. “I am excited that I will be able to learn about two different health care systems and the social structures behind them. I feel that this topic is very valuable to learn about as it can affect you and everyone around you. This will benefit my college experience as I will be immersed in a different country where I will be able to make new friends and create new memories. This will benefit my future career goals as my internship will be focused on mental health and psychology, which will give me a glance at a career within those two topics.” 


Mariatou Coulibaly '23 stands and smiles with bookshelves behind her

Mariatou Coulibaly

Mariatou Coulibaly ’23 (Africana studies, anthropology and sociology)

In the fall, Coulibaly will be attending the School for International Training’s international honors program: Health and Community: Globalization, Culture, and Care. Over a three-month period, she will study in South Africa, India, and Argentina.

“As an A&S and Africana studies double major, I am excited to conduct fieldwork/research for the first time and personally experience the communities I’ve been studying and reading about,” she says. “The knowledge and connections I will acquire whilst abroad will inform my future goals in entering a field that focuses on how public and private sectors study and implement ESGs into their organizations/companies. In my search for a semester-long study abroad program, I became deeply passionate about my experience encompassing much more than just touristy pictures and visits to popular destinations. Studying abroad is important to me because I yearn to have the expertise and intercultural understanding to engage multiple identities, perspectives, and cultures in respectful, enduring, and meaningful ways.” 


Ruben Hernandez smiles wearing Lafayette shirt and backpack

Ruben Hernandez

Ruben Hernandez ’24 (mathematics, economics)

This fall, Hernandez will participate in the Lafayette in Costa Rica program, where students have the opportunity to take arts/humanities, social sciences, and science courses at Universidad Veritas. 

“This is important because I will gain a new perspective of the world from another location, which will provide me information on how people live there and their life experiences,” he says. “I plan to take some economics classes at the university, which will immerse me into different aspects of the subject in another country. It will allow me to understand trading, how the country manages its own economy, and how businesses operate. I hope to participate in cultural traditions native to the area and try out new dishes. I want to network with other individuals at the university and get to know their professions and how they interact on campus and the community as well.” 


Mia Day stands on a dock with water in the background and smiles

Mia Day

Mia Day ’24 (environmental science)

Day plans to pursue a study abroad program during the winter interim in January 2023. She is particularly interested in studying in an ecologically diverse area, and is currently considering programs in the Galapagos and New Zealand.

“The scientific knowledge that I am gaining while at school can only be of so much use to me in my future endeavors without gaining the skills of actually applying this knowledge to real-life environmental issues,” she says. “I believe that gaining firsthand experience through a study abroad program will prove invaluable as it’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am very interested in the human side of environmental science, especially the movement for climate justice. The experiences of indigenous people are so often marginalized by the dominant Western culture of the U.S., and while abroad, I am eager to speak with local organizations and hear from them the ways in which American environmentalism can do a better job at supporting marginalized groups. Learning from these activist organizations would better equip me in my future endeavors when I, hopefully, am able to work with climate justice organizations in the United States.”

Learn more

Office of International & Off-Campus Education

Lafayette College recognizes that we live in an increasingly complex and interrelated global environment, and connecting the classroom to the world outside our walls is at the core of the College’s mission. Off-campus study combines academic rigor with experiential learning through immersion in an international or culturally significant domestic setting.

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Categorized in: Class of 2023, Class of 2024, Class of 2025, Featured News, Global Education, Global Impact, Innovative Teaching and Learning, News and Features, Students, Study Abroad

1 Comment

  1. John Mayer says:

    It’s nice to see the efforts being rewarded. May they become great professionals and help the world a little in their actions. Congratulations
    John Mayer

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