Luther's Michona Johns earns Gilman International Scholarship

Luther College junior Michona Johns, of Edina, Minn., was one of more than 700 American undergraduate students from 341 U.S. colleges and universities selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Johns, the daughter of Richard F. Johns of Richfield, Minn., will study abroad in Malta during the 2014 spring term. She is majoring in psychology and French at Luther and is a 2011 graduate of Richfield Senior High School.

As a Gilman Scholar, Johns will receive $3,500 to apply toward her study abroad program costs.

"I am very thankful to receive the Gilman Scholarship. The money will help reduce my loans associated with studying abroad, and the scholarship will remind me of the assistance I received to help me study abroad," Johns said.

Johns was notified in late September by Kathy Kerber, Luther financial aid counselor, that she was eligible to apply for the Gilman Scholarship.

"Finding out about the scholarship made me that much more excited to go to Malta. Studying abroad there will provide a unique experience full of multiculturalism, island living and high population density living. Life in Malta will be very different from life in Decorah, and although I will miss Luther, I am excited to experience a different culture," Johns said.

The Gilman Scholarship aims to diversify the pool of students who study abroad and the countries and regions they visit. Students receiving a federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions who will be studying abroad or participating in an international internship for academic credit are eligible to apply. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies—making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector. 

Congressman Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee, has said, "Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community."

The program is administered by the Institute of International Education, and the full list of students who have been selected to receive Gilman Scholarships, including students' home state, university and country of study, is available online at: According to Allan Goodman, president and CEO of IIE, "International education is one of the best tools for developing mutual understanding and building connections between people from different countries.  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."