MISSOULA – Four University of Montana undergraduates have won 2022 Gilman Scholarships and are now planning to take their studies abroad.
The new Gilman Scholars are Samantha Boutte, a senior from Nampa, Idaho, who will head to Spain for an internship; Stephanie Kowal, a junior from Great Falls, who has her sights set on studying in the United Kingdom; Quemarr Moatamedi, a junior from Winter Garden, Florida, who hopes to study in Spain; and Ethan Seiler, a junior from Missoula, who will spend a full academic year in Japan.
The Gilman Scholarship is a U.S. Department of State program that enables students who may face financial barriers to study or intern abroad. The program aims to increase the number of U.S. citizens who study abroad to foster mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries.
Each UM student earned $5,000 toward a semester or full-year abroad. Dr. Kylla Benes, director of UM’s Office of External Scholarships and Fellowships, said scholars are selected for their academic preparedness, program alignment with their long-term career goals, contributions to program diversity and potential impact on their communities abroad and at home.
Samantha Boutte is a social work major and also is earning a Global Leadership Certificate. She wants to use time abroad to gain work experience. She will intern for a non-profit in Spain that assists with refugees and immigrant resettlement. As she prepares for a career in social work in the U.S., Boutte said “the internship I received is my dream job. I want to learn about the culture, meet new people and grow my work experience.”
Davidson Honors College student Stephanie Kowal said earning the Gilman “means that I have an opportunity I never previously dreamed of existing for me – to go and explore another country and gain enriching experiences and new perspectives that will make me a better individual and student.” To fulfill her dream, Kowal is applying to study at the University of Roehampton in London or the University of Essex. Both universities will offer new and unique courses in her fields of psychology and sociology, while serving as a gateway to explore places rich in culture and history.
A transfer student who earned the scholarship in his first semester at UM, Quemarr Moatamedi said “the Gilman Award gives me a newfound confidence in my ability to achieve my long-term goals. It shows me that with effort and determination I can change the trajectory of my life.”
Moatamedi is pursuing a career in translation and hopes to study Arabic, Spanish and translation/interpretation at the University of Granada, Spain. Driven by his passion for learning about other cultures, Moatamedi hopes that this will be the first of many adventures abroad.
Ethan Seiler, a history major with minors in Russian and Japanese, will use the Gilman Scholarship to study at Waseda University in Tokyo for the full 2022-23 academic year. Seiler is excited to see something totally different from his life in Missoula, plunge into Japanese culture, and explore the differences and similarities between the U.S. and Japan. Seiler also said the award gave him “a sense of purpose with going abroad, as I’m now spreading the word about both the program and my learning experiences in Japan via social media thanks to the program.”
“For students, traveling and living abroad is a life-changing experience, but for many students this opportunity feels out of reach,” Benes said. “I hope that more UM students will apply for the Gilman Scholarship and other campus awards and resources to make it possible.”
Contact: Kylla Benes, UM director Office of External Scholarships and Fellowships, 406-243-5241, firstname.lastname@example.org