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Study Abroad Scholarship Winners

Seville Spain scholarship winners
By Alexandra Juarez

February 11, 2019 - 01:32 PM

Mt. SAC Students Win Prestigious Study Abroad Scholarships

Four Mt. SAC students are headed to study abroad in Seville, Spain, this Spring semester thanks to scholarships.

Students Nicolas Mena and Samantha Ruiz have been awarded the prestigious Gilman Study Abroad Scholarship to go towards their trip to Seville, Spain.

Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, the Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to support students of limited financial means and students who have been underrepresented in education abroad.

Ruiz is a first generation college student from Ontario, majoring in chemistry. She hopes to inspire other STEM students to study abroad.

“Studying abroad is a chance for me to show others that there are no limitations on any goal or aspiration a person may have, no matter their circumstances or major,” said Ruiz.

As part of her scholarship, she plans to create a mentoring program when she returns to help STEM majors study abroad.

Mena is pursuing a degree in ornamental horticulture and works at the Mt. SAC nursery as a student assistant.

 “It was the first time I ever applied for scholarships,” he said. “I cannot stress enough how important it is as a student to apply for scholarships. Apply, apply, apply! Even if you don't win, it is worth a shot.”

Since 2001, the Gilman Scholarship program has broadened the student population that studies or interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who wouldn’t otherwise participate due to financial constraints and hardships.

Mena and Ruiz, along with fellow students Angie Pacheco and Savannah Smith, have also won scholarships from the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and others, which will go towards their upcoming semester in Seville, Spain.

Smith, a sociology major who was awarded the AIFS scholarship, is also a first generation college student at Mt. SAC. Growing up in Pomona, Smith has never had the opportunity to travel overseas. This will be her first time experiencing a new culture abroad.

“I’ve always felt my purpose was to be a part of something great internationally. So this opportunity to study in Spain is a step toward my global endeavors and will connect me more to my heritage that I’ve only learned about through stories and school. I’m so excited to experience Spain!” said Smith.

Students from any background and major should know that there are opportunities available to them, said Cassie Rubio, study abroad coordinator at Mt. SAC anything is possible.

“Thanks to the continued commitment of the Study Abroad Program and ACES, whose mission focuses on first generation and low income students, these Mounties will soon be embarking on an exciting new chapter abroad!” said Rubio.

Students interested in learning more about studying abroad can visit the Mt. SAC study abroad website or contact Cassie Rubio at or in office in Building 26A, room 1610.

(Pictured: The scholarship winners from left to right are Savannah Smith, Angie Pacheco, Samantha Ruiz and Nicolas Mena.)