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Gilman Scholarship winner to study in Cuba

| Denise Olson

Mirella Espino, McNair portrait

Mirella Espino

A Blugold will spend part of her summer studying in Cuba, thanks to a prestigious international scholarship program that supports students interested in enhancing their global skills. 

Mirella Espino, a political science and Latin American studies major at UW-Eau Claire, has received a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. As a Gilman Scholar, she will study at El Instituto de Filosofia de Cuba, in La Habana, Cuba. 

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship program is through the U.S. Department of State and awards more than 2,900 scholarships to U.S. students planning to study abroad. While amounts vary, students can be awarded up to $5,000. Since its inception in 2001, the Gilman Scholarship aims to support undergraduate students who might not study abroad due to financial constraints.

The Gilman Scholarship is intended for students from a variety of backgrounds and identities, including but not limited to first-generation college students, students of color, students with disabilities, veteran students, nontraditional students, and students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Approximately 62 Blugolds have been awarded the Gilman International Scholarship since 2004.

"Studying abroad will further develop my cultural competence through my interactions with individuals from across the United States and Cuba," Espino says. "I am a Latina of Mexican descent, so Cuba will be a new country with a unique culture, unique Spanish dialect and unique history to learn. This experience will expose me to a new way of living and new perspectives." 

Espino, a graduating senior from Dorchester, has been able to take advantage of a wide variety of opportunities and experiences as a Blugold, including: 

  • Studying as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, examining the 20th-century labor movement in Mexico.
  • Interning with the Latin American News Digest.
  • Interning with the Wisconsin State Public Defender's office.
  • Collaborating with faculty on multiple research projects.
  • Presenting research findings nationally and internationally.
  • Mentoring new students in the First Year Experience program.
  • Volunteering in community nonprofit organizations.
  • Representing UW-Eau Claire with visiting students and families as a campus ambassador.

As she prepares to leave for Cuba and have the unique opportunity to examine her courses in contemporary women's activism and Latin American social revolutions, she is humbled and honored by this award. 

"I am excited for this opportunity and grateful for the support of the U.S. Department of State, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire," Espino says.

Top photo caption: Mirella Espino, a political science and Latin American studies major at UW-Eau Claire, has received a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.