American Study Abroad Students Leading Innovation

Students who study abroad develop important regional knowledge, language abilities, and intercultural work skills that they then use in careers benefiting their home communities. USA Study Abroad’s two programs, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and the Critical Language Scholarship Program, are helping to increase and diversify the U.S. students who go abroad and return with skills critical to advancing our country’s economic prosperity.

The Gilman Program broadens the U.S. student population studying and interning abroad by providing scholarships to outstanding undergraduate Pell Grant recipients who, due to financial constraints, might not otherwise study abroad. Since the program’s establishment in 2001, over 1,300 U.S. institutions have sent more than 28,000 Gilman scholars to 145 countries around the globe.

  • "Being interested in entrepreneurship (international business in particular) was a direct result of my experience during my exchange program," said Gilman Scholar Tiara Willis when reflecting on her experience studying in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Tiara went on to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer for Entrepreneurship Education and was a 2017 delegate to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. Enterprising alumni with regional knowledge like Tiara will help U.S. business grow in countries list the UAE, an important regional hub for American companies doing business throughout the NEA region.
  • To help the United States tap into Brazil’s burgeoning economy, Gilman and CLS will add Brazilian Portuguese as a critical language in 2019.This will help create more alumni like Brienné Coates, who uses the insight she gained while studying in Brazil as a Gilman Scholar in her product-engineering job at Newell Brands.

The Critical Language Scholarship is an important component of the federal government’s effort to advance Americans’ mastery of languages that are critical to our national security and economic prosperity. In 2018, over 570 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students studied abroad in intensive summer institutes in 14 critical languages including Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Korean, and Persian. In 2019, students will be able to study a 15th language, Portuguese, through CLS as well.

  • CLS alumna Olivia Henshaw uses her Chinese skills at Gulfstream Aerospace as a team lead overseeing new aircraft sales in China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Olivia’s U.S. company directly benefits from her language skills, cultural understanding, and regional knowledge.
  • Alumni like Isaiah Weaver will help keep American companies competitive in India’s rapidly growing market. The CLS Urdu alumnus is studying electrical engineering and has had two internships with Intel focused on market research, merger and acquisitions analysis, and product targeting.

USA Study Abroad is helping to connect alumni with meaningful careers in their home communities through a series of career readiness workshops. Learn more about our efforts to help students translate skills gained abroad into impactful careers here.

Learn more about International Education Week and how you can become involved at

The Value of Study Abroad