Meet a sampling of our Superstar Scholars
Michael, a history and political science major at the University of Louisville, studied at Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia, for a year. While in Moscow he interned with a human rights organization called Memorial, which started at the end of the Soviet Union, bringing light to the full extent of activities during Stalin’s regime. Michael’s work and research led to a paper and a partnership with a museum in Washington, D.C. to highlight the information about this little known part of Russian history.
Michael reports that “study abroad is an end to itself. Our cultural divides are as deep as ever. You need people who can act as intermediaries between cultures. In Russia, for example, it is impossible to do any business without personal relationships, personal connections.”
Abel, a graduate of UC Davis, participated in an international education program in Oaxaca, Mexico. His program focused on medical-related issues, and while in Mexico, he spent three days a week working in medical clinics. His international education is proving immediately valuable in his current life in Watsonville, working with (among others) immigrants from Oaxaca. He has a goal of ultimately helping Latinas in the U.S. with the knowledge he gained in the Oaxaca program.
His study abroad experience reaffirmed his goal of becoming a physician, most likely in family practice, so he can see more and a wider variety of patients. Abele reports that the Oaxacan culture is quite relaxed compared to the U.S. culture, and his firsthand experience in Oaxaca influenced his understanding about stress from a medical perspective. He intends to carry the relaxed Oaxacan spirit forward with him.
With scholarship support from the Foundation for GlobalScholars, Rachel Smerer participated in an international internship in India, where she conducted research on multiple Indian nonprofits while working for a nonprofit that primarily served women and children in poverty. Her work led to a thesis that won the "Best Thesis" award in the Honors Program at the University of North Dakota. Rachel has since graduated and is now serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA, working with refugee populations in North Dakota and applying what she learned in India to her current nonprofit experience. She envisions a career in international aid and development in the future.
Anna Celandar, a senior at Bradley University, is an STA Travel Scholar. Her education abroad was in Denmark at The Danish Institute for Study Abroad, where she studied therapeutic approaches practiced in various Danish institutions. It was in Denmark that she was “struck by their innovative integration of art into the therapeutic process” and found a vision for her professional future. Upon her return to the U.S., Anna formalized a plan to use art therapy with cancer patients and implemented her ideas in a summer internship in Chicago. She is now applying for a Fulbright scholarship to continue her research concerning the physical impact of art therapy on the perception of pain and discomfort. "The support I received through the STA Travel scholarship allowed me to enjoy being with my Danish host family and to embrace my unique cultural experience, without constant worries about money at the back of my mind."
Mycal Ford, graduate of Pacific Lutheran University, studied abroad in Chengdu, China. The study abroad experience changed his career direction, and as a result of his time in China, he decided to major in Chinese Studies. He was particularly struck by how he, as a Black American in China, could represent another dimension of American culture, particularly in Asia, where people-of-color are generously under-represented--unless portrayed in sports. “I realized that I wanted to build transracial understanding,” Ford reports. He is currently a Fulbright scholar in Taiwan as an English Teaching Assistant based in Kaohsiung. “As a first-generation, low-income, student-of-color, navigating through the unknown realm of higher education, I’ve experienced the burden that can come with finances. The Foundation for Global Scholars scholarship helped alleviate the financial burden and provided me with the necessary resources to mitigate day-to-day costs that would have otherwise prevented me from experiencing Chinese culture.”
Peighton Huse is an International Studies major at the University of North Texas. With a goal to be fluent in Arabic, she spent a semester in Jordan in an Arabic Intensive program and lived with a host family who spoke only Arabic at home. The effect of her experience was that she dramatically improved her Arabic and can now speak about the Middle East from firsthand experience. Having tangible examples of life in the Middle East has added to her overall understanding of that complex culture.
She believes her study abroad experience gives her an edge and opens new possibilities for her career. An example how Peighton’s Middle East experience is having an impact on her everyday life in a smaller town in Texas is through her work at Texas Roadhouse, a steakhouse with a chain in several states. They are opening restaurants in the Middle East, including Dubai, and Peighton was enlisted to help them draft a training manual for Americans training Arabic employees. She also worked with two Egyptian managers who are in Texas for training.
Brendan, University of Pittsburgh alum, received two scholarships from the Foundation. He first participated in a field studies program to Mongolia, China, and Russia, completing basic research on traditional medicine used in those countries. Following his senior year, he studied Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan, where he continues to live and study, supplementing his study through work with Costco as a translator.
Chad attended an intensive language program in Mandarin Chinese at Beijing University in summer 2009 while completing his master’s degree. He was subsequently accepted into a Taiwanese language study program for a year and is now teaching full time at the English Center at the University of Colorado.
Chad’s experience in Beijing piqued his interest in US-China relations, which he has continued to foster. An entrepreneur as well as an academic, Chad is part of team that is creating a web-based Chinese language program helping U.S. companies and individuals seeking to do business in China. His enterprise, lanterninstitute.com, provides practical language skills focused on economics, business, and culture.
Chad used the scholarship support from the Foundation to pay for the majority of his living expenses. “That’s what fed me,” he reports. The funding allowed him to concentrate his time and attention to the demands of his language program.
Chelsea is student at the University of San Francisco who received a scholarship for her international education program in Florence, Italy. As an art major, the opportunity to study in one of the world’s great art centers helped define her artistic direction. She was inspired by what she learned and saw and realized that creativity can and should be an essential part of her career path, whatever turns that may take.
She used her scholarship to support her everyday expenses in Italy like groceries, cooking, and for travel to her ancestral home in Sicily.
Upon returning to the U.S., Chelsea’s work was accepted to a prestigious art show in Los Angeles.
For Lauren Presutti, a sociology major at Central Michigan University (CMU), the personal discovery that came from studying abroad in Australia this summer was well worth the many months of planning, questioning and hard work. Presutti, from Milford, Mich., has Muscular Dystrophy and uses a wheelchair to get around, which made her decision to participate in the five-week "Wanju Boodjah: Aboriginal Studies" in Perth, Australia, a daring one. She embraced the opportunity, however, with enthusiasm and overcame challenges as they presented themselves each day. In completing the June-July program, she became the first person from her university to travel abroad from a power wheelchair.
Molly Bloom, a linguistics major from the University of Colorado, studied abroad in New Zealand, where she studied Maori. Bloom, who lost her leg five years ago in a vehicle accident, is a Denver resident and part of a national championship wheelchair basketball team. Using her crutches and prosthetic leg in New Zealand, she travelled, studied the language, and even explored the Moeraki Boulders. Support from the Foundation for Global Scholars made her trip possible.