Being able to breathe underwater while looking at the amazing diversity of marine life and coral reefs in Bali is an experience that Destiny Acevedo still dreams about to this day.
Acevedo, a City College student and marine biology major, was one of the few students selected for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship for a program trip to Bali.
The Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship offers financial assistance to community college students who have limited experience in studying abroad. The Gilman Scholarship provides 2,000 awards of up to $5,000 per year.
“When I was selected as a scholarship applicant, I immediately started crying of happiness,” said Acevedo. “I was so proud and smiling for days knowing I was one of a few that was chosen and would be able to attend the program of my dreams.”
The application for the Gilman scholarship consists of a two-part essay.
In the first essay, you must state what your program is about, why you want to go, how it will benefit your educational path and how the Gilman scholarship will help you achieve that goal.
The second portion is a community impact essay. This portion allows you to be creative and connect with your community to help educate students about the Gilman scholarship.
“Applying for the Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship is time consuming if you really want your application to be your best work,” Acevedo said.
Another challenge she ran into was finding a community business to help share her follow-on service project to document her trip, but luckily the study abroad office gave no hesitation on sharing the video.
“I am always very happy to hear about any scholarships that get awarded to any of our program participants,” said Study Abroad Senior Program Assistant Nicole Walther. “It shows the student’s commitment to the program because they took the time and effort to apply.”
The Bali program offered classes in marine biology, oceanography, anthropology, and human geography. Acevedo, a marine biology major, gave the program no second thoughts and jumped at the opportunity.
She was one of the first students to apply for the program since she didn’t want to take any chances of the program filling up.
This was the first program to be instructed in Bali which was another significant reason why she had to go.
“I knew that it would be beneficial to my educational career and future career in marine biology,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo took a lot from this experience. After leaving Bali she realized that she needed to enjoy every moment of life, be grateful for what she has and not dwell on the small things.
“I’ve never met a community as kind and joyful as the one in Bali,” said Acevedo. “No matter your looks, if you know them or what type of day they have, they’ll always have a smile on their face and greet you with happiness.”
Acevedo said the Balinese have an innate sense of family that extends far further than their immediate one.
They allowed Acevedo’s class to watch a cremation ceremony of one of their family members.
“Just one example of how they greet you with open arms,” Acevedo said. “I sometimes have to remind myself of these values as it can be pushed away here in the U.S.”
One of the most memorable highlights from Acevedo’s experience in Bali was getting her scuba diving certificate.
“Being a marine biology major it has always been a goal of mine but being able to get it done in Bali just made it that much better,” Acevedo said.
Thanks to the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, she was given the opportunity to attend her dream trip to Bali.
“We have had students receive a Gilman scholarship on pretty much all of our programs over the last few years,” Walther said. “If you don’t apply, there is a 100 percent chance you won’t get the scholarship.”