Montana State University

MSU student awarded prestigious scholarship for spring study abroad

December 21, 2016 -- MSU News Service

Talya Johnson, a Chinook native, is a junior in community health in the College of Education, Health and Human Development at Montana State University. She was recently awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia starting in February. MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

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BOZEMAN – Talya Johnson, a junior community health major 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 Australia during the spring academic term.

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs, and Johnson is one of over 850 undergraduate students from 359 colleges and universities across the U.S selected to receive the award, according to the U.S. Department of State. Johnson is the 16th MSU student to receive this award since 2012, said Alyson Roberts, study abroad adviser and outreach coordinator for MSU’s Office of International Programs

Johnson, a Chinook native, will use the award to attend the University of Southern Queensland, in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. She will study community health and the Australian health system, hoping to learn new ways of considering health care and health care systems.

Johnson said that she is excited to have the opportunity to study abroad.

“Because I grew up in a small rural town, I haven't had much cultural immersion,” Johnson said. “Learning about a different lifestyle and different ways of thinking will greatly benefit me in my intended career, as well as my future.”

Johnson said she had some concerns about how to finance the educational experience.

“Before I received the scholarship, I was uncertain if I would be able to carry out this experience due to financial concerns,” she said. “But, in addition to the Gilman scholarship itself, I have been introduced to many other resources I can use while studying abroad. It’s such an incredible opportunity and I am so grateful for the chance to learn more about the world.”

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