Student Stories: Nicholas Tracy (COL ’24), Benjamin Gilman Scholarship Award Recipient

Posted in Student & Alumni Stories

According to the U.S. Department of State’s website, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) awarded nearly 1,500 American undergraduate students the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Gilman Scholars are United States undergraduate students who qualify and receive Pell Grants to cover the costs of their higher education.

This year, one of our very own Hoyas, Nicholas Tracy received the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship Award. He is currently a junior majoring in Government and minoring in Film & Media Studies at the Georgetown College of Arts & Sciences. Learn more about his experiences at Georgetown that led him to apply to the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship program and advice that he has to share with fellow Hoyas!

Tell us a little bit about any professional development journey and where you are currently headed.

I’m a first-generation, low-income, non-traditional student who transferred to Georgetown in 2021 after graduating from a local community college. My primary academic and career focus centers on the intersection of technology and education. I grew up without access to formal education and lived in a rural part of Florida, so I relied almost entirely on the internet to educate myself and socialize with others. Needless to say, the internet and modern technology were vital to my development, and I am passionate about ensuring that we utilize tech as effectively and ethically as possible for the betterment of society while also working to end the digital divide and improve digital literacy.

Part of why I chose to major in Government is to better understand how we can use policy to implement positive change. I hope to eventually do research and/or policy work related to technology in society with a focus on education. Previously, I have interned at the Library of Congress and assisted multiple researchers on projects in the field of digital studies. More recently, I worked as a Project Assistant at Georgetown’s Edunomics Lab, a research center dedicated to exploring and modeling complex education finance decisions to inform education policy and practice.

Looking forward, I’ll be studying abroad at Yonsei University in South Korea during the spring. This will be my first time traveling outside of the US, and while there are many reasons I have wanted to visit South Korea for a long time now, one of those reasons is to better understand how South Korea has so effectively utilized technology as a country. I am definitely looking forward to making the most of my time there!

What led you to apply to the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship?

CIEE, the organization that facilitates the study abroad program I’ll be taking part in, awards a $500 grant to applicants who also choose to apply to the Gilman Scholarship. As a low-income student, I figured I may as well give it a shot because even if I wasn’t selected to receive the scholarship, I would still get some grant money. Needless to say, I’m very happy that I was chosen as a finalist for the scholarship as well!

“Just go for it! Seriously, the biggest piece of starting advice I can give to students looking to apply for scholarships is to make sure you put something out there.”

What is your advice to students interested in applying for the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship or similar scholarship programs?

Just go for it! Seriously, the biggest piece of starting advice I can give to students looking to apply for scholarships is to make sure you put something out there. There have been scholarships that I was sure I wasn’t going to receive and which I hesitated to apply to because I was intimidated by the application process, but I always make sure to at least give it a shot. More often than not, that approach has worked out very well for me. Other than that, I think really having a firm understanding of your personal narrative is super important. Everyone has a story, so try to perfect the way you tell yours!

What is your advice to students who want to pursue a certain opportunity but may not have the financial resources to do so?

Again, take my previous advice and never hesitate to apply for scholarships and grants. There are so many organizations out there that want to help low-income students achieve their goals. Simply being a student grants you access to so many opportunities for funding that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to apply for. Take advantage of that! I was truly dirt-poor before enrolling at college—I couldn’t have even afforded to apply for my passport, much less travel to a country like South Korea. But with the resources available to me through Georgetown, GSP, and outside scholarships, I’ll be able to study abroad for a full semester with barely any out-of-pocket costs. It is an amazing opportunity that I am immensely grateful for, and I hope that other students take advantage of all the resources available to them so that they can pursue their own goals as well—no matter how out of reach they may seem.