June 25, 2012 – Fred E. Carriles, a student at New College of Florida, has won a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship sponsored by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He will study in The Hague, Netherlands for the fall 2012 term.
Carriles, whose area of concentration is religious studies/gender studies, will be in his third year next fall when he will be enrolled at The Hague University under a National Student Exchange program administered by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The Hague is known globally as the world’s center for international business and affairs.
Fourteen New College students have been awarded the federally-funded Gilman Scholarship since 2004.
Born into a low-income, Cuban-American household, Carriles spent much of his youth impoverished. He has risen above his circumstances to become a successful college student and human rights advocate. The first in his family expected to graduate from a four-year college, he is also the first to travel abroad.
Recognized nationally for his involvement in raising awareness of LGBT groups, Carriles plans to become an active member of The Hague University’s LGBT student-led group and to glean valuable knowledge in his quest to become an influential leader in the fight for human rights and LGBT rights on a global level.
“This melting pot of global academia and Dutch culture is a progressive city in a country uniquely supportive of gay rights,” states Carriles. “Because of its open and liberal approach to sexuality, The Hague serves as a great location for me to experience a culture in with LGBT rights are both established and accepted as a significant matter of civil rights.”
In 2010, Carriles was named a Horatio Alger National Scholar for academic success, community service and LGBT activism. The award gave him the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC and speak with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas about the critical needs of the LGBT community. That same year he was recognized as a PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) national scholar and a Rotary Regional Scholar for his involvement in human rights efforts. He was also invited to Vice President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware to participate in a discussion on LGBT issues as they relate to American youth.
At New College, Carriles has been the program coordinator for the Gender and Diversity Center, resident advisor for the student body and teaching assistant for courses focused in religious and LGBT issues. He was very involved in the 2011-11“Wearing Discrimination Project,” in which students confronted the adversities that other students on campus have faced. When he returns to New College for the spring 2013 term, he plans to implement the unique organizational skills he hopes to gain while studying abroad at another institution.
“This will not only allow me to contribute to the greater good within my host institution, but will also foster skills necessary for a future in international activism and non-profit work,” he says. Carriles plans to host a series of “Dinner Dialogues” on campus to address studying abroad in Europe, tips for success and the benefits of a Gilman scholarship.
Carilles says that he has been working towards this opportunity to travel abroad for many years.
“I’m thrilled with the idea of immersing myself in another culture,” says Carriles, who plans to explore Europe during his semester abroad. “With my background, traveling out of the country seems so impossible; it might as well be the moon. My mom is really proud and excited for me, too.”
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program was created in 2000 to provide scholarships for study abroad to U.S. undergraduates with financial need, including students from diverse backgrounds and students going to non-traditional study abroad destinations. For more information on the Gilman Scholarship program, visit: exchanges.state.gov/globalexchanges/gilman-scholarship-program.html.