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13 UTK Students Named Gilman Scholars, Awarded $42,000

by Albrianna Jenkins

In the most recent award cycle released early May 2023 wherein 2,100 recipients were awarded nationwide, 13 students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville were selected to receive a collective amount of $42,000 from the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

The 13 UTK students, now considered Gilman Scholars, have selected long or short-term study abroad programs that work to achieve University of Tennessee degree requirements, are personally or professionally aligned with goals after graduation and allow them to explore their globally citizenry and what it takes to be Volunteer on an international scale.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville recipients and their chosen abroad program locations include*:

* Note: Information obtained from The list does not include the students who declined to have their names published online.

Impactful for All, Life-Changing for One

Jaelyn BlackwellFor Gilman Scholar and Volunteer, Jaelyn Blackwell, the scholarship ensured her participation on her selected abroad program, UT in Florence at Lorenzo de Medici.

“Without [the Gilman] scholarship, I would not have been able to participate in my program,” says Blackwell, who was awarded $3,500.

As she looks forward to her first time going abroad, she shares, “It will be life-changing because I will have the chance to experience a different culture and learn from those who are different from me.”

When asked what steps she took to find a program and why she selected the UT in Florence at Lorenzo de Medici program, Blackwell had this to say:

“I have always been fascinated with Italy’s rich culture and history. My [Audiology/ Speech-Pathology] major is not hugely represented in other countries and in study abroad programs, and I wanted to be a representation of this major. In addition, only 4.9% of speech language pathologist are African-American women. I wanted to study intercultural communication in another country to understand how one’s unique culture impacts their dialect and how they are able to communicate.

The Instituto Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence offers an intercultural communication course that will help me to expand my knowledge of how communication barriers impact one’s ability to communicate with those who are different from them. As I was searching for a program, I intended to find an institution that provided an intercultural communications course, as well as a place where I could expand my knowledge of Deaf culture in another country. I met with a study abroad advisor and determined the best program fit.”

One expectation of a Gilman Scholar is to complete a Follow-on Service Project upon returning from one’s abroad program. Blackwell’s project proposal includes making an impact at UT and in her hometown community of Cleveland, Tennessee. “I intend to present to the National Speech Language Hearing Association Organization on UTK campus about my experiences abroad and about how we can spread knowledge about our major to those in another country,” Blackwell says. “I also intend to speak to students from low socioeconomic backgrounds at Cleveland High School about how they can benefit from going abroad,” Blackwell adds.

Please watch the following video to hear from another UTK Gilman Scholar, Kiara Wilson, about her experience applying to and receiving the Gilman award, the details of her Follow-on Service Project proposal and her process of applying to The Education Abroad Network (TEAN): Korea University Summer Program in Seoul, South Korea.

More about the Gilman

The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program (Gilman Scholarship) enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad on long and short-term programs like those offered by the Programs Abroad Office within the Center for Global Engagement. Eligibility is determined by whether a student is or will be receiving a Federal Pell Grant during the time of application or during the term of their study abroad program or internship.

Gilman Scholarship highlights:

  • 100% of Gilman [Scholars] have financial need
  • Nearly 70% of Gilman Scholars identify as racial or ethic minority students
  • Nearly 60% of Gilman Scholars come from small towns or rural communities
  • Nearly 50% of Gilman Scholars are first-generation college students

The process to apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship can be a daunting one, but the Programs Abroad Office within the Center for Global Engagement and Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (URF), a division of Student Success, work collaboratively to equip students with the knowledge and resources to succeed.

“Every semester, we look forward to helping students write compelling applications. We are honored that they trust us to help them tell their stories,” says Laura DeFurio, Acting Director for URF. Of the 13 recipients for the May 2023 award cycle, 10 received direct support from URF through individual advising, application essay writing workshops and interview preparation, which Undergraduate Research and Fellowships provides to all UTK students as they apply to nationally competitive awards.

Ryan Lee, Undergraduate Research & Fellowships coach, confirms the office’s plans to offer a similar support to students for the upcoming fall application cycle. “Students who are eligible for the Gilman Scholarship should receive an email from [URF] in the fall semester, but they can also submit this interest form to join our canvas page where we send out updates and store a lot of our support modules,” Lee shares.

The next Gilman cycle will open in mid-August 2023 for applicants who’s in-person programs or internships start between December 1, 2023, to October 31, 2024. This cycle encompasses Winter or January term 2024, Spring 2024, May-mester 2024, Summer 2024, Fall 2024, and Academic Year 2024-2025 programs.

To learn more about the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, visit

To explore opportunities to go abroad, please visit or contact the Programs Abroad Office at the Center for Global Engagement: 865-974-3177 | 

To explore fellowship opportunities or for support applying to nationally competitive awards, such as the Gilman Scholarship, please visit or contact Undergraduate Research and Fellowships: 865-974-8560 |


Albrianna Jenkins (865-974-3177,