It isn’t often that a study abroad program takes a student back to their place of birth. That’s exactly what happened to Augusta resident Dallas Hayes, thanks to the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program.

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Hayes, a University of Georgia junior, traveled to Tokyo for the spring. The scholarship aims to promote diversity in study and internship programs abroad by awarding up to $5,000 to students around the country.

“The Gilman Scholarship helped ease the worry of living in another country for an extended period of time,” Hayes said. “It also took care of my plane ticket and commuting fees to travel around the metropolis of Tokyo.”

Hayes spent the spring interning for a Tokyo-based investment bank as one of the many UGA Gilman recipients this year. While the school normally sees two to five recipients each year, the 2016-2017 academic year produced almost 20 Gilman scholars. Around 30 percent of the school’s Gilman applicants received the scholarship this year.

“It’s a thrill to work with the students on their applications and see their hard work come through,” said Jacklyn Fisher, education abroad adviser for UGA’s Office of International Education. “Our gratitude goes out to the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program, the U.S. Department of State and the Institute of International Education for supporting their study abroad plans.”

Established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, the Gilman Scholarship has been assisting thousands of college students with their study abroad costs each year. For students like Hayes, this provides an invaluable experience that they would have otherwise missed out on.

“My study abroad experience already has been one of the best decisions and experiences so far in my lifetime,” Hayes said. “I got to intern at an investment bank in Tokyo, spend time with my family in Japan and accelerate my Japanese fluency abilities.”

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