Judith Obregon and Leonardo Villavicencio Receive Fall 2021 Gilman Scholarships to Study Abroad

June 24, 2021

ANNANDALE, VA, June 23, 2021 -- Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is pleased to announce that two students, Judith Obregon and Leonardo Villavicencio, will receive Fall 2021 Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships. This prestigious scholarship will allow both students to study abroad in Spain during the Fall 2021 session. Since the program was established in 2001, more than 1,300 U.S. institutions have sent over 33,000 Gilman Scholars of diverse backgrounds to 151 countries around the globe.

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“We are so proud that two NOVA students are receiving this national accolade,” said Frances Villagran-Glover, vice president of student services. “We are excited for Judith and Leonardo and the contributions they will make on a global scale.” 

The Gilman Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education (IIE). Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000—or up to $8,000 if also a recipient of the Gilman Critical Need Language Award—to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs.

The late Congressman Benjamin Gilman, for whom the scholarship is named, served in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee. When honored with the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2002, he said, “Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views but 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.”

NOVA’s Office of International Education and Sponsored Programs is dedicated to guiding students in their study abroad experiences. To learn more about the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, and other international opportunities, contact Leeza Fernand, Associate Director, Office of International Education and Sponsored Programs at lfernand@nvcc.edu.  The next Gilman Scholarship application deadline is October 5, 2021.

Read here for more information on the students:

Judith Obregon:

Judith Obregon, a NOVA alumna who immigrated from Peru a few years ago pursued two associate degrees in Business Administration and IT while working three different jobs. After completing her associate degrees in 2020, Obregon was admitted to the Georgetown University McDonough Business School as a transfer student.

As a result of her academic excellence and community service, she received a silver medallion and was nominated to be a part of the Coca-Cola Academic Team as a Silver Scholar 2020 due to her intellectual, social and leadership contribution to the community. Also, she was nominated for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Foundation Scholarship 2020, Northern Virginia STEM Women of the Year 2020, and she was selected as a part of the Georgetown University Preferred Consideration Program. Furthermore, she was awarded many other important national and state awards. 

Currently, Obregon is a volunteer working in the international peace project in Colombia for the preservation of the Wayuu social-cultural institutions, and justice in the resolution of conflicts and advance the cause of peace in these zones. Judith is working in collaboration with the Traditional Authority of the indigenous community.

Her long-term career goal is to work for the United Nations or an organization with a similar mission.

Leonardo Villavicencio:

Leonardo Villavicencio, also from Peru, is a current NOVA student working on his second year studying information technology. He chose this field of study because of the coursework at NOVA, which intrigued him about cybersecurity and coding.

He has been a fully online student at NOVA, and thanks NOVA professor Necmi Matlu for shaping his focus and strengthening his views on technology.

Villavicencio plans on attending George Mason University with the intention of furthering his tech career.

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