Biology student receives award to study in Ecuador


Colleah Gilbert is serious about learning Spanish.

A fourth-year pre-med student at Florida A&M, Gilbert is going to Ecuador this fall to study Spanish.

Gilbert, 22, was recently awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship, a grant that helps struggling college students intern abroad. According to the website Ivy Panda, 64 percent of employers said that graduates who studied abroad were given greater professional responsibility.   

“You just don’t hear about biology students studying abroad,” Gilbert, a Jacksonville native, said.

Her trip to the Department of International Studies wasn’t an easy one. She was turned around multiple times, but this determined scholar didn’t give up easily. Filling out paperwork, getting multiple signatures, and finding money kept Gilbert busy and pushing harder. She has since found two more scholarships and has launched a Go Fund Me for friends and family to donate.

Gilbert’s effort to get money for her trip showcases her persistent nature and constant fight to make things happen for her. Students in her field of study are motivated by her success.

“I’ve always wanted to do it, but I won’t lie, I probably didn’t try hard enough,” said Elise Jackson, 21, a third-year biology student at FAMU.

Education Abroad coordinator at FAMU, Aleksandra Benedict, says, “The money is out there, you just can’t be afraid to get it.”

Benedict has been working for the International Education and Development department for some time and still lights up when students receive the scholarship. Gilbert was one of the students who consistently came to her office for assistance, and she was more than happy to help.

At an early age, Gilbert developed a love for service to others and their family through her grandmother’s day care. She also gained nurturing skills from being the oldest sister in her household, where her siblings relied on her for multiple responsibilities. She has a deep understanding for people’s needs and she will go to great lengths to help in any way she can.

She said wants to help South American patients with what she learns during her internship. Gilbert has big dreams of becoming a surgeon, but wants to leave FAMU with much more to offer.

Her plan is to encourage students just like her to study abroad. Gilbert hopes she can continue to pave the way.