October 27, 2021

US State Department Recognizes City and Mesa Colleges as Among Top 20 in Nation for Study Abroad

By Office of Communications

study abroad

San Diego City and San Diego Mesa colleges were recognized today by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for having produced the most Gilman scholarship recipients over the past twenty years amongst those colleges awarding associate degrees.


Fifty-three students from City College and 30 students from Mesa College have received Gilman awards since 2001, placing them among the top 20 nationally for community colleges.


The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is proud to announce the twenty-year anniversary of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and its Top Producing Institutions over the past twenty years.  Throughout its twenty-year history, the Department of State’s Gilman Program has reshaped study abroad to make it more accessible and inclusive for American students by providing scholarships to outstanding U.S. undergraduate students who, due to financial constraints, might not otherwise participate. Since the program’s inception in 2001, more than 34,000 Gilman Scholars from all U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories have studied or interned in more than 155 countries around the globe.   

“Study abroad is such an important aspect for student learning,” said San Diego City College President Ricky Shabazz. “Our students are members of the global community that are charged with leading the world forward in solving global issues.”

“Studying internationally opens a wide array of opportunities for our students, and helps to broaden their access to rich, unique and long-lasting learning,” stated Mesa College President Dr. Pamela Luster.

Along with other top-ranked institutions, City and Mesa colleges were recognized for their support of equity, diversity, and accessibility in study abroad for American students through the Gilman Program. The State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in collaboration with the Institute of International Education, compiles the lists, which are organized by institution size and degree-awarding category.


Based on twenty years of data, the top twenty institutions in four categories are being honored: small, medium, and large institutions and associate-awarding institutions. Colleges and universities in twenty-seven states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico, are represented, as well as thirty-three Minority Serving Institutions. 


The SDCCD sees study abroad as an invaluable option for students living in a diverse border community where international perspectives and global learning can be critical for a successful career. For many students, their community college years may be their only opportunity for international learning. Students who have taken part in study abroad programs say their experience helped them expand their global awareness, build valuable job market skills, better adapt to diverse work environments, and experience increased self-confidence.


In addition to City and Mesa colleges, study abroad opportunities are offered at San Diego Miramar College. Suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, plans are to resume study abroad for SDCCD students starting summer 2022.


To learn more about the Gilman and Gilman-McCain Scholarships and how their diverse alumni are pursuing impactful careers in the government, non-profit, and private sectors, contact and visit  The website includes a full list of the institutions by category, and additional information on the Gilman Program’s 20th anniversary.

As one of the largest of California’s 73 community college districts, the San Diego Community College District serves approximately 100,000 students annually through three two-year colleges and the San Diego College of Continuing Education. San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, and San Diego Miramar College, offer associate degrees and certificates in occupational programs that prepare students for transfer to four-year colleges and entry-level jobs. Mesa College also offers a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management. The San Diego College of Continuing Education offers noncredit adult education at seven campuses throughout San Diego.


Photo Caption: former Mesa College student Harley Sobreo while on a study abroad trip to Costa Rica.


Tags: Pamela Luster, Harley Sobreo, Mesa Students, Press Release, Study Abroad, Gilman scholarship