Grace Romano

Grace Romano.

PARAMUS, N.J. – Bergen Community College honors student Grace Romano, of Garfield, has earned $5,000 as a 2020 U.S. Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in Salzburg, Austria in spring 2021.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity that the Gilman Scholarship has afforded me to begin my study abroad experience,” she said.

Originally set to study abroad in Heidelberg, Germany this summer, the pandemic forced Romano to postpone her study abroad experience until September. Continued travel restrictions associated with the pandemic once again necessitated a change in plans, prompting Romano and Bergen International Student Counselor Amparo Codding to research different locations for a study abroad experience in spring 2021.

“Even though her original plan changed, Grace didn’t give up,” Codding said. “She has been flexible and determined. So instead of spending a summer in Germany, she will spend a semester in Austria. Grace has been the ideal study abroad student. She started planning as soon as she began her education at Bergen in the fall of 2019. This allowed her to identify a study abroad program that met her interests and financial needs, and to apply for scholarships such as the Gilman.”

Romano has taken the changes in stride.

“My goal is to improve my German skills as well as experience the European life, so the switch wasn’t an issue at all and I am very excited to study in Austria,” she said. “Since I will be studying in the center of Europe, I am looking forward to the many experiences and connections I will be able to make during my time abroad. I want to visit historic castles and beautiful mountains. I am excited to meet and learn with other students from all around the world while representing my own culture and country as an informal ambassador.”

Raised in a homeschool family, Romano graduated high school two years earlier than planned and began college at 16. She has become an active member of Bergen’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society chapter and a work-study student in the Educational Opportunity Fund office. She plans to graduate from Bergen with an associate’s degree in 2021 and study foreign affairs upon transferring.

“I’ve known that I wanted to pursue a career in the study of international relations, as I have always been fascinated by colorful cultures and languages of the world,” she said.

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education (IIE). For more information, visit

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (, a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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