West Virginia University seniors and McNair Scholars Joseph Bailey and Katasha Leggett both have life goals that involve traveling overseas.

Leggett, who hails from Pittsburgh, would like to become fluent in Spanish, a language she has been studying for many years. Bailey, from Prosperity, would like to eventually visit all seven continents.

As recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship , they are one step closer to reaching their objectives.

The awards are for undergraduate students receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a two- or four-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide.

A total of 600 students nationwide won the scholarship for the spring 2009 semester.

Bailey, a history major, is studying at Lingan University in Hong Kong. While he is there, he aims to study the history of the former colony and write an in-depth essay on what he discovers.

Hong Kong seems like a very interesting place, and I am excited to explore the culture,Bailey said.

A criminology and investigations major with a minor in Spanish, Leggett chose to spend her semester in Granada, Spain. During her visit, she is learning about the culture and applying her Spanish-speaking skills.

I am grateful for this opportunity,Leggett said.It is great to learn a different culture and see a different side of life than everyday American life. I have studied Spanish for a long time, but I want to see the parts of the culture you dont see in a book.

The Gilman International Scholarship Program offers grants for undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad. Such international study is intended to better prepare U.S. students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.

The congressionally funded program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by the Institute of International Education.

Applicants submitted essays about where they would like to study abroad, why they would like to go there and how it could benefit their studies. Students also shared ways they would help promote the Gilman scholarship program once they returned from their trips.

Bailey and Leggett learned about the program through WVU s Advanced Academic Scholarship Preparation and Intellectual Resources Exposure (ASPIRE) office . The office in WVU s Honors College is designed to help students find and obtain nationally competitive scholarships. More on the Net: http://aspire.wvu.edu/

For additional information about the Gilman scholarship program, visit http://www.iie.org/programs/gilman/ .