Marissa Madrid-Ortega, Class of 2018, has been awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for the 2016-2017 Academic Year. The highly competitive scholarship allows U.S. undergraduate students with financial need to continue their academic studies abroad.

Madrid-Ortega is currently in China on a Critical Language Scholarship Program, and feels grateful to receive $8,000 from Gilman to continue studying in China.

“My initial reaction was definitely shock, not just in the fact that I had won the scholarship, but also the fact that I received extra funding,” says Madrid-Ortega. “This scholarship is really going to assist me in my language acquisition goals. It will allow me to stay in China after the summer is over to keep working on my fluency.”

For the Fall 2016 and 2016-2017 Academic Year awards, the Gilman Scholarship Program reviewed more than 2,900 applications. Madrid-Ortega is one of 850 students who received a scholarship. Recipients were selected on the basis of an application, plus a proposal for a “follow on project” that will be completed after they return from study abroad.

“This is a great accomplishment by Marissa, who is an exceptional student and leader,” says Professor of English David Gaines. “She will do Southwestern proud.”

The Gilman International Scholarship Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and administered by the Institute of International Education. It serves to encourage U.S. students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world. Students are encouraged to choose non-traditional study abroad destinations, in particular, areas outside of Western Europe and Australia.

For more information on the Gilman International Scholarship Program, visit