Leah Seupersad, 404-413-1354
Visits to the Shanghai Museum, the Beijing Opera and a Chinese acrobatic show are teaching Brittany Cullins about China in a way that she could never experience in a classroom.
The criminal justice major is one of more than 360 students who received scholarships from Georgia State University this summer to help fund study abroad trips to destinations around the globe.
“Learning Chinese to a certain level of proficiency is vital to my graduate school admission,” said Cullins, a GSU junior who will return from a four week trip to China June 16 before returning for the fall and spring semesters. “I have fallen in love with Shanghai. The people here are the sweetest, and are very willing to help me practice my Chinese.”
Georgia State University’s Study Abroad Programs office works year round to make students aware of the benefits of studying abroad and financial assistance opportunities, said Daniel Jansen, GSU study abroad coordinator. After this summer's award cycle, the office will have awarded $1 million of the student-funded International Education Fee (IEF) study abroad scholarship since 2004.
“Students cite finances as the number one deterrent to study abroad. With these scholarships, we work hard to be able to assist students in realizing their study abroad plans,” Jansen said. “I know several past IEF scholarship recipients whose study abroad experience was their first trip outside of Georgia, and it wouldn't have been possible without scholarships.”
With a recent increase in funds, the average IEF scholarship increased dramatically to more than $1,000 this year, Jansen said. GSU also created the new Global Experience Scholarship program for students like Cullins, who demonstrate financial need and have never traveled outside of the U.S. The Global Experience Scholarships are designed to cover all program costs aside from tuition.
“Georgia State is preparing its students to be community, state and world leaders, and study abroad is one of the most important ways students can develop cross-cultural skills and a broader understanding of the world so that they can excel in their studies and future careers,” Jansen said.
Georgia State scholarship recipients are studying topics abroad through a host of University System of Georgia and other for-profit programs this summer, including five College of Education students who received IEF scholarships to study indigenous mathematical knowledge systems in South Africa.
Cullins, who received a Global Experience Scholarship to attend a Chinese Language Summer Study, hopes one day she will obtain a position as a government liaison that coordinates initiatives and policies to help fight transnational crimes in the United States and China. During her study abroad trip, Cullins is taking intensive Chinese courses, including advanced Chinese reading and conversation.
Berenice Quijano, a sophomore majoring in biology with a minor in French, was awarded an IEF scholarship to attend the French Studies Program in Tours, France. Quijano wants to attend medical school to become a pediatrician and work for a non-profit medical organization in a French speaking country.
“This program includes home stay. Through home stay I will learn about French cuisine, the structure of family values and family lifestyle,” Quijano said.
Michael McNorrill, a College of Education master’s student focusing on behavior and learning disabilities, received a Global Experience Scholarship. McNorrill is exploring Ethiopia's recent educational system developments to make him a better teacher in the United States.
“As I work to prepare students to live in a global world, the best way I can do this is by living globally myself,” McNorrill said. “By learning to reach across cultural differences, learn from others, and expand my horizons in my quest to education, I will be able to teach my students to do these very things.”
Although each student has a different reason they want to study abroad, Jansen says they all return with a shared global experience that they wish they could do again.
“They’re living and working overseas, attending some of the best graduate programs in the U.S., and working for top companies in Atlanta,” Jansen said. “Through earning a competitive scholarship and having the experience of studying abroad, these students found new motivation and focus in their life.”
Students should start looking for scholarships at least a summer before going abroad. For more information about studying abroad or scholarships, visit: http://www.gsu.edu/studyabroad/index.html.
June 6, 2011