Jessica ChediakFinance senior Jessica Chediak has been selected for the 2020 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a highly competitive scholarship that provides funds for students to study abroad while in school.

Chediak joins six other UAB students selected for the scholarship – the largest cohort of UAB students in an application cycle. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Gilman Scholarship provides up to $5,000 toward study abroad or internship program costs.

Chediak will use her scholarship to study in Florence, Italy at the New York Film Academy. With campuses across the United States and worldwide, the academy offers students hands-on experience in acting, directing, editing and performing for the visual arts.

“It was wonderful and honestly shocking that I was accepted,” Chediak notes.

A film studies minor, Chediak grew up watching films with her family. “Growing up, my dad would show me and my brother tons of movies,” she says. “We grew up learning to appreciate films and the meanings behind them.”

When Chediak first enrolled at UAB, she considered studying abroad but believed it would be too costly. “I always thought it was so expensive,” she says. “But I also knew that it was life-changing for some students.”

She began looking into ways to offset the costs of her dream to study abroad and discovered the Gilman Scholarship after contacting the UAB Office of Education Abroad office.

She applied for the 2019 Gilman Scholarship application cycle and was waitlisted. She didn’t give up hope, however. Working closely with Collat accounting advisor Jessica Smith, she revised her application materials and essay.

Jessica Chediak travels“From our first advising meeting, Jessica was interested in planning for a study abroad semester- she was very clear in that goal,” says Smith. “The blending of finance and film studies really speaks to what kind of student she is. She has many interests and is very passionate about the creativity involved in the study of film.”

Chediak says Smith and the Office of Education Abroad staff were instrumental in her successful application. “I’ve never experienced such support in my pursuit of this scholarship,” she says. “Without them, I don’t think it would be possible to have been selected.”

Chediak hopes to marry her interests in finance with film after she graduates in summer 2021.

“I’d like to potentially be in charge of financing the development of a film,” she says.

Her favorite movies include Avengers: Endgame, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 1917. While attending the New York Film School in Italy, Chediak will get a closer look at the behind-the-scenes development of a film. She will learn proper film editing techniques, camera operation and cinematography.

“I’m excited to learn more about professional film editing. 1917 was edited to appear as one shot. It isn’t one shot, but I’m excited to learn more about the process behind how the editors achieved that,” she says.

As she waits to travel to Italy, expected to be in 2021, Chediak is learning to speak Italian so she can fully immerse herself in the culture while studying abroad. A lover of travel, Chediak has visited Syria and Greece with her family and is fluent in Spanish and Arabic. She recommends students investigate opportunities to travel abroad and experience new cultures to supplement their UAB education.