More Study-Abroad Grants Going to Financial-Need UMKC Students

Three receive scholarships to study in Spain, Scotland
Elizabeth Stepp outdoors on hillside with mountains in background

Three more UMKC students have received federal grants worth thousands to study abroad this year through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship program.

The latest grants come in the wake of two earlier study-abroad grants for UMKC students announced in April. The congressionally funded Gilman Scholarship provides financial support to outstanding undergraduate Pell Grant recipients who, due to financial constraints, might not otherwise study abroad.

This latest round of grants includes the first two UMKC recipients of the John S. McCain International Scholarship for Military Families (Gilman-McCain Scholarship), named after the late senator John S. McCain of Arizona. Those scholarships are reserved for children and spouses of active or activated United States military personnel.

Nuria Telles of Kearney, Missouri and Elizabeth Stepp of Kansas City are both participating in a six-week summer program at the University of Málaga, located in southern Spain on the Mediterranean coast. Alison Scobee of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, will attend the four-week Honors Summer Program in Scotland.

Stepp, a nursing major, is scheduled to graduate in spring 2024. She is a McCain scholar.

“My dad, Col. Ryan Stepp, has been a C-130 pilot in the Air Force and a member of the Missouri Air National Guard since 1998,” she said. “Along with my mom, he has been the most influential person in my life. I truly would not have the desire to constantly better myself and continue learning Spanish without him. He has traveled extensively throughout his career and knows the importance of learning about other cultures. He encourages me to seek every opportunity to improve my Spanish-speaking abilities.”

Her long-term career goal is to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. She believes becoming fluent in Spanish will be a career asset, allowing her to care for a wider patient population in the hospital and take part in medical missions.

She said the Gilman-McCain scholarship made the trip a realistic goal.

“It helps me to spend my summer developing my Spanish-speaking abilities by exploring another country rather than working,” she said. “It also allows me to put more money towards furthering my education in the future so I can accomplish my career goals.”

Telles, a Languages and Literatures major who plans to graduate in 2024, also views her study abroad opportunity as a key career driver. She hopes to become a U.S. Foreign Service officer.

“I hope to gain a new perspective on my own culture and my host country’s culture,” she said.

The scholarship has made her experience possible, and she wants to pay the grant forward.

“I would also like to one day have my own scholarship foundation, helping others from underrepresented communities.” 

Fellow Gilman-McCain recipient Scobee is a freshman majoring in psychology and chemistry with a minor in medical ethics. She is enrolled in the UMKC Honors Program and is an ROTC cadet.

“I have a huge interest and passion for anthropology, so I'm hoping to gain insight into what studying other cultures is actually like,” she said. “The trip is meant to fully immerse us, so I'm hoping that I learn a lot and can add some anthropological strategies to my toolbelt.” 

Her career goal is to become a doctor or a neuropsychologist.

“The Gilman Scholarship is so important to this trip,” she said. “Without it, I definitely would not be going. I'm so excited to have received it because I came into college wanting to study abroad and now I have that opportunity. Honestly, it hasn't quite sunk in yet that I'm going.” 

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