Montana State University

MSU student awarded prestigious scholarship to study abroad

December 4, 2015 -- MSU News Service

Adriana Leal, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering and international studies at Montana State University, was awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and in 2016 will study in Buenos Aires at Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina. MSU photo by Sepp Jannotta.

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Adriana Leal, a sophomore chemical engineering and international studies student at Montana State University, has been awarded a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She will use the award to study abroad in Argentina during the spring academic term.

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs, and Leal is one of approximately 800 undergraduate students from 355 colleges and universities across the U.S selected to receive the award, according to the U.S. Department of State. Leal is the 9th MSU student to receive this award since 2012, said Alyson Roberts, study abroad adviser and outreach coordinator for MSU’s Office of International Programs

Leal will use the award to attend Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A Mexican-American student born in Arizona and raised in Minnesota, the program will allow her to study in her native Spanish, expanding her engineering vocabulary for the global industry. She is also looking forward to the opportunity for cultural exchange.

Leal said she is excited about the award and the opportunity it presents.

 “Studying abroad will better equip me to navigate my way among strangers,” Leal said. “I think it’s critical to have a dialogue with others around the world to aid cultural understanding. As a passionate global citizen, it is my duty to explore this planet, meet its people so that I can work to unite everyone in an effort to preserve our homelands."

The program aims to diversify the students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go, according to a press release issued by the State Department. Students receiving a federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions who will be studying abroad or participating in a career-oriented international internship for academic credit are eligible to apply. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies, making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector. 

“Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates,” said Congressman Benjamin Gilman, for whom the award is named. Gilman retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee. “Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be contributors, rather than spectators in the international community.”

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ mission is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange that assist in the development of peaceful relations. In an effort to reflect the diversity of the United States and global society, ECA programs, funding and other activities encourage the involvement of American and international participants from traditionally underrepresented groups, including women, racial and ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.  Artists, educators, athletes, students, youth and rising leaders in the United States and more than 160 countries around the globe participate in academic, cultural, sports and professional exchanges. For more information about ECA programs, initiatives and achievements, visit

The Institute of International Education, which administers the scholarship program, is an independent, nonprofit global higher education and professional exchange organization. Founded in 1919, the institute has a network of 19 offices worldwide working with more than 1,200 member institutions and more than 6,000 individuals with a commitment to the internationalization of their institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors, with funding from government and private sources. These programs include the Fulbright and Humphrey Fellowships administered for the U.S. Department of State.  

For more information on the Gilman program, please contact Lindsay Calvert, director of the Gilman International Scholarship, at 832-369-3481 or

The full list of students who have been selected to receive Gilman Scholarships, including students’ home state, university and host country, is available at

Contact: Alyson Roberts, Office of International Programs, (406) 994-7044 or