Camarillo, Calif., May 15, 2012 – CSU Channel Islands (CI) junior Gardy Borromeo will head to South Korea’s Yonsei University this summer on a competitive $4,500 scholarship awarded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Borromeo, a chemistry and biology double major from Oxnard, is the first CI student to win the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries they visit by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints.

“Getting an international education experience and being on my own in a different country is something that will definitely change my life forever,” said Borromeo.  “It is such an honor to be the first and only recipient of this competitive national scholarship for this campus.  It feels really great to carry CI's name and to represent the University.”

Competition for the scholarship was fierce, with fewer than 20 percent of applicants receiving the award.  Borromeo submitted an application, academic transcripts and essays.  He also had to propose a service project that would allow him to share his experiences with others and encourage them to pursue their own travels.  Borromeo plans to work next year in CI’s Center for International Affairs, promoting study abroad and scholarship opportunities to other students and helping them navigate the application process.  He also plans to host foreign exchange students from South Korea who will be studying at CI next year.

Borromeo said he chose Yonsei University because of its reputation as one of South Korea’s oldest and best universities. 

“Many American students choose countries that have become traditional destinations such as Australia, New Zealand, and many European countries.  I want to make a difference by not following the pool of students aiming for the same countries,” he said. 

Borromeo, who can read and write Korean, will live in a dorm with international students for three months as he studies chemistry, biology and Korean, and experiences the country’s culture, people, history and sights.

His chemistry professor and mentor, Dr. Simone Aloisio, has no doubt Borromeo will make the most of the opportunity.

“For Gardy, there is no such thing as a language barrier,” said Aloisio.  “He’s outgoing and friendly and quickly meets people and gets along with them.  In science, which is an inherently international endeavor, the ability to communicate effectively and exchange information to advance understanding is a real asset.  I have no doubt this experience will help Gardy continue to grow in this area and that he will be a great ambassador for CI.”

A transfer student from Oxnard College, Borromeo is active on the CI campus in the Chemistry Club, Kilusan Pilipino, Student Support Services, and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.  He also participates in research on whale muscle fibers with Dr. Rachel Cartwright in the Biology Department and volunteers for the American Red Cross.  After graduation next spring, he’s considering graduate school, working for a pharmaceutical company or joining the Air Force.

“I hope to set a stepping stone for other students to pursue their dreams of study abroad by helping them with scholarships like this,” Borromeo said.  “At the same time, I hope to help foreign exchange students feel at home in our welcoming community.”

For more information on the Gilman International Scholarship, visit

For more information on study abroad programs at CI, contact or Mayumi Kowta, Center for International Affairs Associate Director, at

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About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands 
(CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI’s strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more by visiting CI's Social Media.