- Published on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 14:44
By Daniel Perez
UTEP News Service
An inherent interest in how things work and a willingness to seek out academic opportunities has earned a UTEP student a ticket to study engineering and culture in a foreign land during the fall 2012 semester.
Jesus Trillo, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, was one of three students from The University of Texas at El Paso selected by the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program to study abroad. The others are Paola Lujan, a junior double majoring in philosophy and British and American literature; and Dafne Elizondo, a junior communication major.
Trillo received $8,000 to study in Sarjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE). He will take classes in Arabic, engineering and Middle Eastern culture.
The 20-year-old native of Juárez, Mexico said he chose the UAE because it was the biggest leap from his comfort zone. He said he embraces the challenge of the different language, culture and perspectives on engineering. Among the reasons he chose to study in the UAE was to enhance his future job prospects, which could include working with a major oil company with ties to the Middle East.
“Receiving the Gilman Scholarship and the amount I received are perfect examples that nothing is impossible for those who decide to fight for their goals and dreams,” Trillo said. “Help is available; it depends on the individual to take advantage of it.”
Trillo is spending the summer in Huntsville, Ala. as a NASA intern, where he is conducting research in propulsion systems. The work involves disassembling, reassembling and testing engine components that could be part of future launch systems. He added that he would enjoy a job with NASA. “I’m open to everything,” he said.
Lujan received $4,500 to study at the University of Chester, United Kingdom. She said she will use her time in England to research the historically important authors and philosophers from the region. Lujan, who plans to become a lawyer, wants to learn why these writers and thinkers wrote and thought as they did.
Elizando, who is working on a business minor, was awarded $3,500 to study in the international relations, communications and political science program at Vesalius College in Brussels, Belgium. She said the experience will make her a more well-rounded person, ready to take risks and capable of communicating with people with varied backgrounds, cultures and beliefs.
The goal of the Gilman program is to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Institute of International Education in Houston.
“The Gilman award really helps students with the financial aspects of the amazing opportunity to study for a semester in another country,” said Donna Ekal, Ph.D., associate provost in the Office for Undergraduate Studies.
The opportunity to study outside the United States offers UTEP students numerous benefits, including the chance to build maturity, self-confidence and leadership skills and enhance understanding of and compassion for people of other cultures, said Niamh J. Minion, the University’s study abroad coordinator.
“Society needs intelligent, thoughtful and sensitive leaders to grapple with the world’s challenges,” Minion said. “UTEP’s Study Abroad Office programs seek to prepare our students to do just that.”
To apply for the Gilman Scholarship, students must be eligible for a Pell Grant. Online applications for the spring 2013 semester will open in August and close Oct. 2.