By Jeff Murphy, November 10, 2015
WARRENSBURG, MO – Asked to write an essay about what study abroad means to her, University
of Central Missouri sophomore from Liberty, Sydnee M. Kimmel, describes the benefits
of learning more about other people and cultures, but she also points out, “I have
the heart of an explorer and I need to put it to good use.”
Kimmel, who is a first-generation student majoring in international studies, and five other students will realize their dreams to study in a foreign country as the first recipients of the new Generation Study Abroad Scholarship at UCM. Each of these six students receives a $2,500 award to apply toward a study abroad experience during the spring 2016 semester.
Other students who are receiving Generation Study Abroad Scholarships are Megan L. Duffey, senior sociology major from Higginsville; Andrea D. Tinoco, senior modern languages/Spanish major from Kansas City; Anthony L. Morris, junior business management major from Lawson; Lynelle D. Johnson, senior elementary education major from Columbia; and Khadijah A. Willis, senior actuarial science major from St. Louis.
According to Sarah Pattison, coordinator of Study Abroad and Exchange at the UCM International Center, the university plans to make up to 12 such scholarships available every academic year with assistance of grant funding through the Institute for International Education (IIE). UCM is one of more than 350 colleges and universities in the United States and 100 foreign institutions of higher education which are partnering with IIE to increase the number of college students who have international study experiences. Thanks to initiatives that include this new scholarship program, UCM is gaining ground on its commitment to increase study abroad participation to 500 students annually by 2019.
“Two years ago, we had about 50 students studying abroad,” Pattison said. “During the last academic year, there were 235. We project close to 300 this year. We also want to diversify who is going abroad. We want to shift the paradigm at UCM to open up study abroad to everyone.”
That’s exactly what the Generation Study Abroad Scholarship helps to accomplish. The program is set up to ensure more minority students, as well as students who are the first in their family to attend college, and those who have financial need have the opportunity to study outside of the United States.
Based on criteria, to be considered for the Generation Study Abroad Scholarship, a student must be: Pell Grant eligible, a first-generation college student, or a member of an underrepresented group in higher education.
Pattison said one student from each of the four academic colleges will be chosen during the award cycle as well as a student who is enrolled in one of the federal TRIO programs. The UCM President’s Office also will select one recipient.
The university is making every effort to ensure students know about these program opportunities and have enough information to determine if study abroad is right for them. Special informational sessions where students can come and learn about Generation Study Abroad Scholarships take place in Wood Building 101 from 4-5 p.m. Wednesdays during the academic year.
Students who have questions or concerns also are getting support through the International Center’s Study Abroad Office. Charlie Ambrose, a graduate of UCM who had two study abroad experiences when he was seeking a bachelor’s degree, is involved in a graduate internship which allows him to work directly with students who want to study abroad.
“I have been lucky to work with great UCM students from their initial interest in study abroad all the way to preparing them about what their classes will be like abroad and how to travel to other places during their program of study,” Ambrose said. “To see the transformation of a student from their initial interest to knowing they are actually getting on an airplane and spending part of their college career abroad has been the most fulfilling part of working with study abroad students.”
Pattison, who also gained international study experience while she was pursuing her higher education, praises the program as an opportunity for students to develop confidence and learn how to be more independent through their participation. That, of course, is in addition to gaining a global perspective that will make students better informed citizens and employees.
The next round of awards will consist of six scholarships for the combined summer and fall 2016 semesters, with the application deadline of Feb. 20. Individuals who want to learn more about applying for Generation Study Abroad Scholarships should attend one of the weekly information sessions. They can complete the scholarship application online at ucmo.edu/generation, or to obtain additional information, they can call the Study Abroad office at 660-543-4195.