Two College of Charleston students were awarded the nationally competitive, congressionally funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which enables American students to gain proficiency in diverse languages and cultures. The scholarship program provides the opportunity of studying abroad to students who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints.
Cecilia Trejos ’25 and Malaika Affonso ’26 were selected as 2023 Gilman Scholars. Affonso is a public health and international studies double major and Trejos is majoring in business administration with a concentration in real estate and a minor in Spanish.
“I knew that I wanted to study abroad, but for the longest time, I was convinced that it would be out of my reach,” says Trejos. “This is an unfortunate fact for many students and I will forever be grateful to the Gilman program for making this dream a reality for me. I’m excited that, with this opportunity, I’ll be able to encourage my peers to apply and be a part of helping students with the process and preparation of studying abroad.”
Trejos is currently studying abroad in Trujillo, Spain, and has an internship working at a real estate and travel agency. She’ll be learning about how real estate works in Spain and assisting with planning trips for clients.
“Becoming fluent in Spanish is a big life goal of mine, and I think living and working in a Spanish-speaking country will help me achieve it,” she says, adding that she credits the Spanish department’s partnership with the business school for providing students like herself with Spanish0-related internship opportunities and ways to volunteer in the community.
Affonso chose to come to the College of Charleston Honors College in part “because of its close-knit community and the opportunities to work closely with staff on research and other projects that could make an impact on my community and the world.” Her decision was also influenced by her dad, Lancie Affonso ’96, a beloved mentor to countless students. “He’s always looking out for me and telling me about the different opportunities on campus.”
Affonso is grateful for that attention – and for the Gilman Scholarship.
“It has opened a door for me to broaden my academic journey past the borders of my own country,” she says. “I’ll be taking an epidemiology class in Barcelona this summer, and I am so excited to learn these key facets of public health in the context of a Spanish case study, the Spanish flu.
“I encourage anyone eligible for the Gilman Scholarship to apply,” she continues. ‘I think studying abroad is an experience that would enrich the academic experiences and lives of every student.”
Sidney Woram, associate director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, agrees with the value of studying abroad.
“I am thrilled that Cecilia and Malaika received the Gilman Scholarship in the fall 2023 application cycle. They both worked hard on their applications and have chosen programs that will help them in their academic pursuits and prospective careers,” she says. “There are always more qualified students applying to Gilman than available scholarships, and I am thankful that Gilman recognized the merit of Cecilia’s and Malaika’s applications. I hope their examples will inspire more students to apply, and we wish them all the best on their programs!”
Applications for the Gilman Scholarship are due at 2:59 a.m. EST on March 8, 2024. Interested students may contact Sidney Woram at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Office of Nationally Competitive Awards has a number of valuable resources for the application process, including the following Gilman Scholarship Drop-In Hours:
Feb. 12–Feb. 15, 2024
Robert Scott Small Building, Room 208
Feb. 26–March 1, 2024
Robert Scott Small Building, Room 208
March 4–March 7, 2024