Student Wins Gilman Scholarship to Study in Ecuador

Sarah Gilman
February 7, 2019
Tech Talk

Sarah Hamby was awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study in Ecuador with A-B Tech this summer. The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, thereby gaining skills critical to our national security and economic prosperity. The Institute of International Education has administered the program since its inception in 2001.

Hamby, an Associate in Arts student, is prepared to graduate this May and transfer to Western Carolina University in the fall semester to major in nutrition and minor in Spanish. “I want to keep learning Spanish to help more clients. I can learn their culinary culture and see what is important to them,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in health and nutrition and I feel like that is something we all need to be more educated about here in America. It is important to me to be able to teach people.”

The trip to Ecuador is a month-long cultural immersion to learn Spanish and Biology and is scheduled for mid-June. The program will take place in three different cities and includes daily Spanish courses, an opportunity to leave with Spanish-speaking families, and visits to areas of cultural and ecological importance.

“Kristen (Schlaefer, Spanish Instructor) inspired her to see how studying in Ecuador will help her future interest in nutrition with a focus on the Spanish language, and she is eager to learn from the families and people of Ecuador,” said Kelly McEnany, Chair of the Global Education committee. “She worked hard on the application, I helped her with essay edits, and Jon Grunder (Financial Aid Associate Director) certified her application from home in order for this to be submitted by the ‘early application deadline.”

Hamby heard about the opportunity from Schlaefer and gave it some thought until McEnany inspired her to apply because of the educational opportunities and the cultural immersion. “It was completely unexpected to win. I thought it would be one in a million chance since it is such a competitive scholarship,” she said.

Hamby came to A-B Tech after she got her GED and found she was working harder without getting ahead. “It’s me and my mom. My dad passed away a few years ago. She and dad were not college graduates and my mom was over the moon when I got this scholarship,” she said.

Now she has to get a passport and fill out lots of paperwork for the trip. “I’ve never traveled overseas or anything like that in my life. I’ve never even flown before so I am excited about that, too,” she said.

Hamby credits her instructors at A-B Tech for the scholarship. “I definitely would not be able to go if it weren’t for the scholarship. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. I am really excited to stay with families there and experience life from their perspective and to study a new culture. I also want to visit a farm there and see how the food production it different than in America. That’s going to be interesting.”

Learn more about A-B Tech’s Global Education Trips Abroad at

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