The Gilman Scholarship Program aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go by offering awards to US undergraduates who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints. This year, over 2,700 Gilman scholarships of up to $5,000 will be awarded.

CGIS and Sweetland writing consultants are offering a Gilman Scholarship Workshop on Thursday, February 18 from 5–6:30pm in the PC Lab in MLB 2001 (ISS). If you are a Pell recipient going abroad this spring or summer and want more financial support, come to this event. CGIS will provide pizza and other refreshments and help you rough out your entire application. By the time you leave, you'll be in great shape to complete your Gilman application in the coming week. The summer deadline for Gilman awards is Tuesday, March 1. RSVP online today.

Michigan's Most Recent Gilman Scholar

Adam DePollo received a Gilman award and is studying abroad this winter term in Santiago, Chile on CGIS's Liberal Arts in Santiago program. Adam is an Arts editor for The Michigan Daily and is contributing from Chile with a new column in The Statement called "Fear and Self-Loathing in Santiago," a semi-fictional reflection on his experiences abroad. On the eve of his departure, Adam sent us this introductory report:

My name is Adam DePollo, and I’m an LSA/Residential College senior majoring in English and Comparative Literature.

I’m from Farmington Hills, Michigan, where I attended a private college prep school on scholarship and spent almost all of my time outside of class playing guitar and piano, studying Spanish, or reading novels and history books. I was a studious kid, which was disastrous for my social life but added up to a GPA solid enough to get me into Michigan. I was a pretty serious jazz guitarist during my high school years and I definitely wanted to continue pursuing music wherever I went for college, but I was equally if not more serious about literature and writing and felt that I should go somewhere I could follow those interests as far as they might take me.

I didn’t have a coherent plan for what I would do with my collegiate years, so I picked the school where I thought I could stumble around in multiple directions and beg for guidance from the best professors and mentors I could, all while doing the least amount of damage to my future credit score. With Michigan's exceptional faculty and in-state tuition, it seemed like the right place.

As a freshman, I worked in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) with Prof. Paul Anderson in the American Culture department on a number of book projects he was assembling about jazz musicians from the 1960s and ‘70s. Around the same time, I attended a mass-meeting at The Michigan Daily. I had never had much interest in journalism or writing in high school, but I was definitely interested in the arts and having opinions, so I decided to apply. My application was pretty bad—an article about old rock stars in which I compared Paul McCartney to a turtle. But the Arts section hired me nonetheless, I assume because their blog was understaffed and I knew the difference between jazz and R&B. I spent my freshman and sophomore years completing distribution requirements and poring over old jazz magazines and talking about Bill Evans with Prof. Anderson while covering all things jazz for The Daily.

The UROP program ended after my sophomore year, while The Daily was becoming the focus of my attention and the biggest part of my life outside of class.

I was promoted to Online Arts Editor during winter semester of my sophomore year, and I was also getting very positive responses on my jazz writing from my interview subjects and their PR people. At the same time, I was spending more time at the Daily offices, forming friendships with other writers and editors and trying my hand at reporting and feature writing. Feature reporting meant I did a lot of interviews, which helped me learn how to interact with people who aren’t university students and who don’t live in libraries.

Outside the university world and outside of jazz—and with my brother's help— I became interested in other genres, particularly hip hop and R&B, which I appreciate especially for the questions they raise about contemporary issues of race, identity, and social justice. As I began interviewing hip hop artists and writing about hip hop for The Daily, I was also drawn to the more philosophical and theoretical parts of my literature courses and especially to my readings in the Spanish department. I learned that much of contemporary Latin American discourse deals with the same questions of race and identity by way of the arts that hip hop was asking.

Going into my senior year, I also realized that time was running out for me to study abroad with any hope of getting financial support, so I decided to apply for a program during my last semester at UM. The Liberal Arts in Santiago program was attractive for several reasons. It was was among the least expensive semester-long programs offered in Spanish-speaking countries, and it would also allow me to be in a city like Santiago, which boasts not only some of the best universities in Latin America but also one of the world's most vibrant arts scenes. It seemed like a place where I could follow my interests wherever they might take me. And finally, I was a long-time fan of Chilean authors—especially Pablo Neruda, Isabel Allende, and Roberto Bolaño.

I don’t remember exactly how I found out about the Gilman Scholarship, but Kate Lilly in the CGIS office helped me apply on short notice, and I am very fortunate to have been chosen as a scholarship recipient this year. For my community project, I’ll utilize my position at The Daily and write a column about my time abroad that will both chronicle my experiences while also giving me a platform to think about the idea of “finding yourself” and why that idea seems to be so important in so many ways in our culture these days. I’m not sure how that will work out, but I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think.