Samantha Palermo ’24 Wins Gilman Scholarship

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The first-generation student, who grew up in Nebraska, is studying abroad in Barcelona.

Samantha Palermo in front of a historic Roman bridge in Spain
Samantha Palermo ’24 visits the historic Roman Bridge of Córdoba in southern Spain while on a LSA+ program this term. (Photo courtesy of Samantha Palermo ’24)

Samantha Palermo ’24 is spending winter term on a LSA+ program in Barcelona, improving her Spanish and visiting cathedrals, a Buddhist monastery, and historic Jewish and Islamic sites.

Palermo, a first-generation college student from Nebraska, was one of nearly 1,500 students around the country who won a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship in December.

She is double-majoring in neuroscience and religion and says the visits to religious sites have given her “the opportunity to use the Spanish I’ve learned in class to learn more about a subject I’m passionate about—from a completely different perspective. This has been incredibly rewarding.”

The State Department program, launched in 2001 and named for the late Republican congressman from New York who chaired the House Committee on International Relations, provides up to $5,000 for students who are Pell Grant recipients to encourage them to study abroad. Recipients studying critical-need languages, which range from Arabic to Urdu, can receive up to $8,000.

Although Dartmouth financial aid fully covers study abroad programs for eligible students, the Gilman scholarship has helped Palermo with expenses during her time in Spain.

She learned about the Gilman program from a number of people at Dartmouth, including the Frank J. Guarini Institute for International EducationFellowship Advising, and the First Generation Office, and became interested because of the Gilman program ethos of service. The program requires students to complete a service project at the end of the time abroad.

“These projects take a variety of forms, but they all involve sharing opportunities about studying abroad and/or supporting students who hope to study abroad in the future,” Palermo says. “Community impact is incredibly important to me, so a scholarship that emphasizes paying it forward and supports a community of scholars who want to give back was immediately appealing to me.”

Jay Davis ’90, director of the First Generation Office, says Palermo won a College award for most outstanding first-year student two years ago and is active in a variety of campus activities.

“The awarding of the Gilman Scholarship confirms what anyone knows who is fortunate enough to know Samantha: She is an outstanding human deeply committed to making our world a better place,” Davis says.

More information on Gilman and other fellowship opportunities is available through Fellowship Advising.

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