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Nine UT Gilman Scholarship Recipients Fund Dreams to Go Abroad

by Albrianna Jenkins

Pictured L to R are Gilman Scholarship recipients Nor Alkhasali, Amanda Nowicki, Tawny Ashworth and Reem Abdulhussein

The Programs Abroad office within the Center for Global Engagement at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is dedicated to supporting Volunteers through the process to select, apply and participate on international programs where they gain experiences and develop tools to answer for themselves what it means to be a global citizen.

Unfortunately for many students, this opportunity can feel unattainable due to financial obligations—this is where nationally competitive scholarships like the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program (Gilman Scholarship) come in.

In an official statement released late last week, the Gilman Scholarship Program announced that “nearly 1,500 U.S. undergraduate students have been selected to receive Gilman Program awards from the October 2022 application deadline.”

Of the nearly 1,500 recipients nationwide, nine students from UT were awarded a collective amount of $36,000 in scholarships.

UTK Gilman Scholarship Recipients and Selected Programs Abroad

  • Nor Alkhasali, Biological Sciences, CIEE January in Barcelona
  • Tawny Ashworth, Kinesiology, UTK Rome to Barcelona Food Study
  • Katherine Ballard, Animal Sciences, Thailand*
  • Dylan Mize, Supply Chain Management, UTK Global Supply Chain Operations in Panama
  • Reem Abdulhussein, Kinesiology, CIEE Summer Middle East Studies
  • Grey Barger, Education, CET Japan
  • Amanda Nowicki, Physics, UT in Sydney (Australia)
  • Lucas Simmons, Political Science, CIEE Open Campus (Italy and UK)
  • Sarah Huang, Computer Science, CET Taiwan: Summer Study Abroad

*non-UTK approved program

The Impact of the Gilman Scholarship

“I was awarded $3,000, says recipient, Nor Alkhasali. For Alkhasali, the Gilman Scholarship solidified her ability to participate on a winter mini-term program to Barcelona, Spain. “Without the Gilman, there would be zero possible way I could go [abroad]… I’m so thankful for it,” she says.

As a junior majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Business, Alkhasali shares that her opportunities to participate on an abroad program during undergrad were running out. The 20-day CIEE January in Barcelona program was the perfect opportunity for her to go abroad while balancing a rigorous work and school schedule. “I chose to go abroad because … I want to experience a new culture and new people and hopefully make unforgettably memories,” says Alkhasali.

For junior, Amanda Nowicki, the dream of going abroad has been a long time coming. “I come from a very, very tiny town in the middle of nowhere of West Tennessee, So, I knew that traveling out of the country was going to be the most possible when in college,” says Nowicki.

Finding a school with international programming was a huge reason why she selected UT above institutions situated more closely to home. Diversity, connections and possibilities, Nowicki lists, were all components of UT that appealed to her and ultimately led to her pursuing a bachelor’s degree in physics and a study abroad experience to Australia through the UT in Sydney semester-long program.

“I budgeted as if I wouldn’t [receive the Gilman] so I considered my financial aid, and then, I was working two part-time jobs,” she says. After receiving the news that she had been awarded $4,000 in Gilman scholarship funds, Nowicki shares her feeling of relief: “Now, my dream of going abroad will finally be able to come true.”

The Process to Apply for the Gilman Scholarship

Gilman recipients Tawny Ashworth and Reem Abdulhussein heard about the Gilman Scholarship through different sources—and with vastly different amounts of time to apply.

“I learned about it my freshman year,” says Abdulhussein, who received $4,000 to be applied to her selected program, CIEE Summer Middle East Studies. “I went to a couple of the workshops… and I talked to a lot of advisors my freshman year, and then, I just have been on top of it every year, just making sure I’ve at least applied to it.”

For recipient, Tawny Ashworth, things could not have been more different. While exploring financial aid opportunities with Programs Abroad Coordinator, Joshua Spurling, she shares that she learned about it with less than a week until the deadline. “I immediately went to the website and tried to learn everything that I could, “ she shares. “The Gilman organization had Zoom workshops, so I went to the workshop … I also reached out to the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, and they directed me to one of their graduate students, Kitt … She definitely helped me out and led me in the right direction on the essays. I think if I had more time, she would have been a great resource the whole time.”

Even still, Ashworth shares, “I’m just really thankful for the whole opportunity to study abroad in particular but definitely the scholarship for sure.” Ashworth was awarded $3,000, which she will apply to the faculty-directed winter mini-term program, UTK Rome to Barcelona Food Study.

Programs Abroad Coordinator and Gilman Certifying Advisor, Christian Canizales, recommends that UTK students take every opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Gilman scholarship application process by attending workshops, doing research and talking to previous Gilman recipients.

“I’m extremely proud of our nine recipients; applying to the Gilman Scholarship is not an easy feat, especially considering the rigorous programs and disciplines they all come from,” says Canizales. “Gilman opens the doors to an extensive and honorable group of alumni across the country.”

The next Gilman cycle opens mid-January with an application deadline of Thursday, March 16, 2023.  “[Programs Abroad] intend[s] to work with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships for the next application cycle to increase the number of applicants/recipients and further bridge the gap between study abroad and groups that are historically marginalized from the experience,” says Canizales.

For questions about the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, please visit their website at or contact the Programs Abroad Office at the Center for Global Engagement at 865-974-3177 or


Albrianna Jenkins (865-974-3177,