Five VCU students receive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships

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Top row, left to right : Hannah Byrne, Jonnathan Alvis and Siona Peterous. Bottom row, left to right : Daniella Pizarro and Oumaima Kaabi.

Five Virginia Commonwealth University students have been awarded scholarships through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program for study abroad during summer 2016. Students were selected from a field of 3,400 applicants; approximately 950 students from across the nation were selected to receive the scholarship.

Jonnathan Alvis, a sophomore majoring in forensic science in the College of Humanities and Sciences, received a scholarship to participate in the Sant’Anna Institute VCU summer direct-enroll program, which takes place in Sorrento, Italy. Alvis is from Springfield, Virginia.

Hannah Byrne, a junior majoring in biology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, received a scholarship to study at The School for Field Studies in Tanzania. Byrne is from Richmond, Virginia.

Oumaima Kaabi, a senior majoring in biology and a member of the Honors College, received a scholarship to participate in the Contemporary Social Challenges in Rural Communities VCU faculty-led summer study abroad program, which takes place in Pietermaritzburg and Maputaland, South Africa. Kaabi is from Alexandria, Virginia.

Siona Peterous, a junior majoring in political science and urban and regional studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences, received a scholarship to participate in the AMIDEAST intensive Arabic program, which takes place in Amman, Jordan. Peterous is from Springfield, Virginia. 

Daniella Pizarro, a junior majoring in science with a concentration in health preparation in the College of Humanities and Sciences, received a scholarship to participate in the CEA Costa Rican Medical Spanish Program. Pizarro is from Virginia Beach, Virginia. 

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs. The VCU Education Abroad office and National Scholarship Office work with students to develop competitive applications.

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program supports undergraduate study abroad and was established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000. This scholarship provides awards for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide. The scholarship program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Institute of International Education. 

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Thirty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit and