Samuel Garrie thought the numbers were too daunting.

In the end, though, the number of applicants for the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program didn’t stop Garrie from pursuing his dream.

After writing three essays for the scholarship, Gilman still wasn’t sure if he would be fortunate to be among the handful of lucky recipients.

Today, Garrie is reaping the rewards from clicking the submit button and applying for the scholarship.

The rising senior at Mississippi University for Women used the financial assistance he received from the Gilman Scholarship to travel to France and study at the Institute of Touraine in Tours. Garrie arrived in France on June 2 and is on course to earn nine credit hours that will go toward his foreign language minor at The W.

“I made plans to go to France in the spring of 2022,” said Garrie, who is from Florence, Alabama, and is majoring in history. “It took a lot of work to get where I’m at today. I chose France because I studied the language at The W. Also, I chose it because I have always been interested in France. I have enjoyed every second of it here.”

Garrie said the opportunity to study abroad will help him as he moves closer to becoming a professor. He said in addition to studying the French language at L’Institut de Touraine he has discussed grammar, culture and geography.

Garrie said he wanted to go to France to learn more about different cultures, to learn the history of the country and to learn more about the language. He said some of his favorite moments on the trip have been visits to fortresses, chateaus and homes.  Garrie said he also intends to use his time in France to help him be more adaptive with his students.

To earn the Gilman Scholarship, Garrie had to submit a Statement of Purpose Essay and two Community Impact Essays: the Building Mutual Understanding Essay and the Follow-on Service Project Proposal. He encourages other students at The W to apply for the Gilman Scholarship and to take advantage of the opportunities to study abroad.

“It’s an opportunity you never know you’ll get again,” Garrie said.

The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, providing them with skills critical to our national security and economic prosperity. To be eligible for the Gilman Program, applicants must be receiving a Federal Pell Grant during the time of application or provide proof that they will be receiving a Pell Grant during the term of their study abroad program or internship. The Institute of International Education has administered the program since its inception in 2001.

Follow Garries’ study abroad opportunity at

Erinn Holloway, a Spanish instructor and the coordinator for the Study Abroad Programs at The W, said studying in France enabled Garrie to go beyond the foreign language courses at The W. She said opportunities to study abroad can change students in so many ways and help them gain valuable international perspective of the world.

“It will help you develop intercultural communication and foreign language skills,” Holloway said. “It can make you more flexible and tolerant. You will be better able to understand and accept the differences of other cultures. It can improve adaptability and problem-solving skills. All of these are highly desirable in a multicultural world.”

The W offers at least one study abroad program each year directed by The W faculty and sponsored by the university. These programs have been held in England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Mexico, Peru and Belgium.

Every student at The W is eligible to participate in the program as long as they meet the 2.5 grade-point average requirement.

In 2023, there were opportunities for students to study abroad in Ireland (Honors) and Spain (Language Learning) as well International Exchange Programs at Aichi Shukutoku University in Nagoya, Japan, and at the Universidad de Alicante in Alicante, Spain.

Holloway said there are plenty of other scholarship opportunities available for students interested in studying abroad, including the Fund for Education Abroad and The W’s Peyton Study Abroad Scholarship for History Majors. For more information on any of the scholarships, contact Holloway at 662-241-6833, or email her at

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.