SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

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By Santa Barbara City College

On Oct. 6, 2022, the U.S. Department of State recognized Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) as one of the U.S. colleges and universities that sent the most scholars abroad through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program during the academic year 2020-2021. The Gilman Scholarship expands access and equity in study abroad and international internship opportunities among U.S. undergraduate students with high financial need.

“In recognizing the top institutions with students studying abroad as Gilman Scholars, the United States continues to prioritize its commitment to provide access and equity to international experiences for all Americans,” said Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

At the height of the COVID-19 global health pandemic, which created severe obstacles for students to study abroad and participate in international educational exchanges, the Gilman Scholarship was able to support nearly 800 Gilman Scholars from 48 U.S. states and territories to study or intern, both in-person and virtually, in 77 locations around the world.

The Gilman competition is administered at SBCC through its Study Abroad Program and Program Advisor Nicole Walther. SBCC was one of the first among community colleges in California to create comprehensive semester abroad programs, developing an outstanding reputation, and achieving state and national recognition for excellence and quality of programs. The programs are faculty-led and change every year. The subject-specific programs allow faculty to bring their lectures to life with relevant excursions in the destination country and offer experiential learning to SBCC students.

Upcoming Study Abroad programs include Rome, Italy, in Spring 2023 to study English, personal development and Italian language. Summer 2023 offers two programs: one in Tokyo, Japan, to study communication and film studies, and one in Costa Rica to study Spanish grammar, beginning surfing and stretching and relaxation. The Fall 2023 program will take students to Bali, Indonesia, to study marine biology, oceanography, sociology and anthropology.

“We are honored to receive this recognition from the Department of State, and proud that through our program and the Gilman Scholarship, the desire to study abroad can become a reality for our low-income and disproportionately impacted students. The scholarship is very competitive, so to be selected reflects their commitment to learn about other cultures and engage with others throughout the world,” said Walther.

Additionally, the Gilman Program helps these students gain the professional skills, language abilities and knowledge needed for successful careers. The high academic performing and socio-economically diverse American undergraduate students who study overseas with support from the Gilman Program also build international relationships and foster mutual understanding. Since the program’s inception in 2001, more than 35,000 Gilman Scholars from all U.S. states, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories have studied or interned in more than 155 countries around the globe.

The Gilman Scholarship is a public diplomacy program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and is implemented by the Institute of International Education (IIE). To learn more about the Gilman Scholarship and how its diverse alumni pursue meaningful careers in the public, non-profit and private sectors, visit  

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Basicinfo805 Oct 09, 2022 03:47 PM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

CC needs to be be to told how to focus on its mission - educating local students coming out of high school. Not international or out of state high money payers.

a-1665411744 Oct 10, 2022 07:22 AM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

Studying abroad at SBCC is not cheap - BUT it's one of the most affordable SA experiences you can have.
Also, there are several scholarships and financial aid available to students who need it. SBCC has a great program!

a-1665359147 Oct 09, 2022 04:45 PM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

SBCC has been doing study abroad since at least 1980. Good stuff, especially for language!
So glad I only spent 1 year in high school and the rest at SBCC and UC.

a-1665360114 Oct 09, 2022 05:01 PM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

It's a great program! Would that it would be possible for adults, that is, non-usual-college-age adults to enroll in it, as they can in the regular on campus classes!

wahine Oct 10, 2022 07:26 AM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

All community member can enroll in the programs! In the past there have been people of all ages, not just 19 and 20 year olds. Remember, this is a community college so anyone over age 15 can take any of the classes at SBCC. I see a variety of ages on campus. It's really a diverse student population.

RHS Oct 09, 2022 06:11 PM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

This time Basic is right, I think. The first two years of college should not involve "study abroad" programs but should furnish the basic building blocks to complete your undergraduate education. (I am speaking of the academic mission of a community college.) Pretty clearly there is a lot of money in the pockets of these students who are more interested in things outside their academic journey.

a-1665412513 Oct 10, 2022 07:35 AM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

RHS, I disagree with you here. It appears you do not know about the Study Abroad Program and what education and going to community college is about. All the classes at the credit division SBCC are academic in nature: math, communication, art, physical education, sociology, biology, theatre arts, etc. Learning does take place outside of a classroom, too, and sometimes more readily than having four walls around you. Study Abroad is NOT a vacation. It's studying and doing academic work in a different country and learning about the culture, the people and how to get along with others, among other of life's lessons.

a-1665412675 Oct 10, 2022 07:37 AM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

Oh - I want to study Spanish in Costa Rica! Is this open to people who are not currently students? I know a little bit of Spanish but I've always wanted to go to Mexico or Latin America to study.

Channelfog Oct 10, 2022 07:52 AM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

The best and fastest way to learn a language and a culture is total immersion, go live there. It also helps put the US in perspective, the good and the bad. These days I much prefer living abroad as it is painful to see the conditions here.

SBWoman Oct 10, 2022 09:47 AM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

With proficiency of over 70% of incoming students at 5th grade level, study abroad program is another way to avoid academic sequential learning. However, experiencing other cultures and limits of educational opportunities elsewhere awakened me.

Ahchooo Oct 11, 2022 10:32 AM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

Seeing other counties and cultures up close is very educational. It would be good for our country if every single person could have that experience. Perhaps having to compete for acceptance to the program will act as an incentive for students do well in their studies. I don’t see how this program detracts from anything.

sacjon Oct 11, 2022 10:39 AM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

Studying abroad is an invaluable experience that everyone should have. I can't understand why some would oppose or naysay this amazing program. Learning another language and experiencing that language and culture first hand makes you a more rounded person. A top priority should always be travel. The close mindedness and fear of "others" in this country needs to stop. This is how you combat that mindset. Get out of your town and see the world!

Voice of Reason Oct 11, 2022 10:55 AM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

"The close mindedness and fear of "others" in this country needs to stop" there is none of that in this thread about the pro/cons of the SBCC study abroad program.

sacjon Oct 11, 2022 11:30 AM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

Sad and telling, but not surprising that 2 people instantly "disagree" with my comment touting the importance of travel and overseas study. I wonder, do they oppose studying abroad? Do they support the close minded and xenophobic attitude that is so prevalent in our country? Odd indeed, but a great example of why programs such as this are so important!

edney Oct 11, 2022 11:18 AM
SBCC Ranks in Top Tier Study Abroad Scholars

I think the objection is not to the experience(s) that can be had. Its about being told (via taxes and assessments) that one is required to pay for a portion of the costs at an entry level school whose primary mission is supposed to be getting students ready for transfer to a four year program.
I'm generally a fan of travel as a learning experience.

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