Scholarships Make Global Travel a Possibility for All Students

Posted: January 7, 2013 at 4:14 pm, Last Updated: January 16, 2013 at 3:52 pm

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By Beth Pullias

Senior Kim Harding takes a seat at the World Trade Organization headquarters in Switzerland.

Senior Kim Harding takes a seat at the World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, during one of her three study abroad experiences. Photo courtesy of Kim Harding

It’s an experience anyone would treasure — the opportunity to study abroad. And thanks to several scholarships offered by the Center for Global Education (CGE), traveling internationally is now a more affordable option for Mason students.

Samantha Blizzard, a senior tourism and events management major, used a Global Scholars scholarship to intern in London last summer with D&D London, a restaurant cooperation. She assisted in planning and implementing three events, developed a targeted invitation list and updated various documents. The scholarship helped her cover tuition and expenses, including travel outside London.

“I would have been able to study abroad, because it was a priority of mine, but I would not have been able to afford to travel to other countries like Scotland, Italy and Spain and experience more culture while interning in Europe,” Blizzard explains via email. “I would have been on a tight budget during the trip, and paying tuition for the following semester would have been difficult.”

Scholarships through CGE range from $100 to $1,000 but usually average $250 to $500. The number of scholarships awarded varies from year to year, but the CGE estimates that 60-75 are granted annually. Each year, about $30,000 in scholarship funds are available.

“The Center for Global Education offers challenging, enriching and highly educational opportunities to the Mason community,” says Yehuda Lukacs, CGE director. “With programs in over 70 countries — many led by Mason faculty — our students are able to study, conduct research and volunteer as interns abroad. Thousands of Mason students have attended CGE programs over the years and returned home with an incredible sense of academic and cultural accomplishments. Study abroad greatly enhances global understanding.”

Mohamad Elbarasse, a senior with a double major in economics and mathematics, studied French for six weeks at Université du Québec à Montréal. His two scholarships, the Global Perspective and Global Citizen scholarships, helped him pay for room and board, day-to-day expenses and weekend excursions to different parts of Quebec.

“The process was pretty simple [to apply],” Elbarasse said. “There is an application form for the scholarships, and both required short essays along with a letter of recommendation from a professor or employer.”

Global Scholarships require a follow-up service project when students return. Students can participate in the CGE photo contest, send a letter or email detailing their experience, staff the CGE kiosk in the Johnson Center to tell other students about their experience or create a presentation to show others.

Kim Harding, a senior integrative studies major, found out about the CGE during orientation for transfer students in fall 2011. With the help of scholarship money and the flexibility of creating her own major in New Century College, she had the chance to study abroad — three times.

For Harding’s cultural trip to Italy, she combined three scholarships she found through the CGE website: The Gilman Scholarship  and Mason’s Global Perspectives and Global Citizens scholarships.

As her service project, Harding is doing a workshop later this month at Germana Community College in Fredericksburg, Va., to show community college students how they can study abroad.

“Since Mason’s programs are open to non-Mason students, they can take courses and apply for the same scholarships that I did. I really want the community college students to do this because it’s something I wished I had done sooner,” says Harding.

Harding has traveled not only to Italy, but also to Switzerland. This spring, she will study at the University of Oxford in England.

What would Harding tell a student uncertain about study abroad and financing the trip? She says, “It’s an experience that you will never forget and cherish forever. If you are concerned about money, there are ways to pay for it, including tons of scholarships.” She adds, “You’re only young once!”

The Center for Global Education offers a wide range of international opportunities to study, do research and serve. Mason students, faculty, staff and the general public are welcome to join any of the trips. The programs are designed for undergraduates, graduates and professionals who want more knowledge of other cultures.

The next application deadline for scholarships is in February and March 2013 for the summer and fall of 2013 and 2013-14 academic year programs. The deadline for the CGE Global Perspectives scholarship for short-term programs is March 8. More information on upcoming study abroad trips can be found at the CGE website.

Write to Beth Pullias at bpullias@gmu.edu

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