Jailene Acevedo, junior and Russian major, was recently selected as a recipient of prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The Gilman scholarship is administered by the U.S. State Department and provides financial support for students to study or intern abroad. The award is highly competitive – this year, Jailene is the only student from the University of Michigan to receive one.

“Due to the competitive nature of the Gilman Scholarship, I was mentally preparing to not be selected as a recipient while remaining hopeful and confident that I would. The night I got notified, I was having actually having a difficult time, and this acceptance completely turned that around. My family was just as shocked as I was though they wouldn’t admit it. They just said that they know I can do whatever I put my mind to, which is always great reassurance!” – Jailene Acevedo

Jailene will be using her award to study in St. Petersburg, Russia through the CIEE’s Intensive Russian Language & Culture Program during the winter 2020 semester. There, her time will be split between studying language and culture with almost 30 other students from across the country. While there, Jailene is looking forward to being able to use the skills she has acquired during her time at Michigan and experience the language and culture she has studied for years first-hand.

“As I will be living with a host family while in St. Petersburg, I will finally have the opportunity to experience authentic Russian lifestyle as well as authentic Russian food. I’m looking forward to exploring a country so rich in culture and acquiring a richer Russian vocabulary, which is perhaps what I am most excited for.” – Jailene Acevedo

Jailene’s academic abilities have been repeatedly recognized by her instructors in the Slavic Department and across the university. She was the recipient of a book award for her performance in second year Russian, and a current language instructor praised Jailene for her “curiosity, work-ethic, and attitude in the classroom.” Another instructor praised Jailene for her willingness to pursue new opportunities, pointing to her recent decision to begin studying Ukrainian in tandem with Russian. When asked her feelings about studying in another country, Jailene expressed her excitement to
explore a completely new environment:

“Since I have never left the United States, I knew that it could be frightening to spend three months in a country whose language isn’t my native one. Nonetheless, I knew it would be an impactful first international experience, testing what I already know and teaching me at a pace immensely quicker than what I am accustomed to.” – Jailene Acevedo