The notification came on a morning in late July. Martin Tuchman School of Business junior Mohamed Mohamed — then visiting Cairo, Egypt, the city in which he was raised — woke up, reached for his phone, checked his email and found a congratulatory message waiting for him. He had received a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.
“I was looking at it and looking at it,” said Mohamed of the message, recalling how he screamed for joy and then called out to his mother to share the good news. “It was really exciting! I couldn’t believe it.”
As a Gilman Scholar, Mohamed will spend the fall 2017 semester in Lille, France, a northern city located near the Belgium border. Aside from soaking up the culture there — it will be his first time in France — he will study entrepreneurship and marketing at SKEMA Business School.
Mohamed is among the 22,000 students who have been awarded a Gilman Scholarship since its establishment in 2001. The program — named for the late congressman who served in the House of Representatives for three decades and chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee — provides grants for American undergraduates “of limited financial means to pursue academic studies or internships abroad.” It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE).
“International education is one of the best tools for developing mutual understanding and building connections between people from different countries,” remarked IIE President and CEO Allan Goodman. “It is critical to the success of American diplomacy and business, and the lasting ties that Americans make during their international studies are important to our country in times of conflict as well as times of peace.”
Born in the U.S., Mohamed moved with his family to Egypt where his parents are from when he was just a toddler. Years later, when he was in high school, the family returned to America “so we could go to college here, for better opportunities and better education.” Mohamed, who commutes to NJIT from Edison, has an older and a younger sister; his father is a cab driver and his mother a homemaker.
He applied for the Gilman Scholarship with the assistance of NJIT’s Office of Global Initiatives (OGI), which helps students interested in studying overseas. Having never submitted a scholarship application before, he greatly appreciated the support from OGI Director Cristiana Kunyczka.
To his fellow students who are thinking about applying for a Gilman or any other scholarship, Mohamed advises, “Just take the chance. You may think it’s too hard or unlikely that you’ll get it. Don’t focus on the negative. Be positive and put in the effort and the time.”
Now preparing for his departure in early September, Mohamed is sure glad he did!