John Rangel Marte ’24 receives Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in Spain and Belgium
John Rangel Marte ’24, a major in business administration, was picked to be part of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program to support his spring 2023 semester study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain. In addition to winning the Gilman Scholarship, Marte was also selected to take part in a special program for Gilman Scholarship recipients where just 25 students out of thousands were provided an opportunity to travel to Brussels, Belgium, to visit the European Union’s (EU) headquarters.
Marte is excited to share about how he found himself on such a rewarding journey this semester, as well as what he plans to do next once he returns.
From Salve Regina to Spain and Belgium
Originally born in Puerto Rico, Marte moved to Newport, Rhode Island, with his family when he was just four years old. Marte enjoyed the small-town atmosphere on Aquidneck Island and wanted to continue that into his college education. With small class sizes and a tight-knit community, Marte knew Salve Regina was the school for him.
If someone had asked Marte two years ago if he would ever study abroad, his answer would’ve been, “No.” He had been in Newport for most of his life. But Marte was ready to break out of his comfort zone, and he wanted to try new experiences during his time at Salve Regina.
The Center of Global Education and Fellowships at the University helped guide Marte to applying for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which is a grant program run by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad.
Gilman Scholarship recipients are able to gain skills that are critical to national security and economic competitiveness. Only a couple thousand students are selected annually to become a Gilman scholar.
To his joy and surprise, Marte won a scholarship, and he was incredibly excited when he found out he was really going to be able to go to Barcelona, Spain.
“Barcelona is a bigger city than Newport, so it was an opportunity to go and do something completely different,” said Marte. “I speak Spanish, so studying in Barcelona would let me interact with the locals and the culture there, also.”
While this scholarship made it possible for Marte to study in Barcelona, it also provided him with the opportunity to travel to Brussels, Belgium, to learn about the European Union and transatlantic relations. Brussels is the home to the European Union headquarters, where Marte spent a week learning about EU relations, an experience unlike any other.
Through this program, Marte was able to experience first-hand how international conflicts are resolved.
“We got to tour EU buildings and watch people work together to create policy,” Marte said. “A lot of the policies that the EU implements trickle over to the U.S., and I didn’t know that before.”
Bringing his experiences back to Newport
Before his journey to Spain, Salve Regina had introduced Marte to FabNewport, a local nonprofit whose mission is to ensure that children have fair and equal access to opportunities, resources and relationships to help build them a better future.
“It was actually for a Spanish class at Salve where I first got connected to FabNewport,” described Marte. “I was able to choose a community partner I wanted to work with and decided to teach lessons for an after-school program in Spanish at FabNewport.”
From personal experience, Marte understands how important these nonprofits are. He recalls spending a lot of his childhood in the Martin Luther King Center, a nonprofit community center based in Newport. His time there gave him the mindset to achieve his goals, which eventually led him to Spain.
“I hadn’t heard of or seen people that look like me or come from similar backgrounds like me being able to study abroad,” said Marte. “But now I’ve learned not to limit myself.”
Studying abroad in Barcelona is something Marte would have never imagined to be feasible. He is grateful to Salve Regina for giving him the opportunity to travel abroad and can’t wait to pay his experiences forward to children that are just like him.
“Going back and being able to show these kids from the same community, who come from similar circumstances what is possible, is going to be really great,” he said. “I want to show them there’s more out there than what they might think.”
Article written by student writer Catherine Dolan ’23
Salve Spotlights is a series of people-centered stories periodically featured on SALVEtoday. Check out the tag Salve Spotlights for more stories.