WMU awards $100,000 in study abroad grants
June 5, 2008
KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University awarded more than $100,000 to 39 students this spring through its President's Grant for Study Abroad program.
The program helps students pay for the cost of studying a foreign language abroad. Its spring 2008 grant recipients were announced during an April 17 awards ceremony presided over by WMU President John M. Dunn.
During his remarks, Dunn emphasized his commitment to international education and said he hopes to "double or even quadruple" WMU's current annual average of sending more than 500 students overseas to study or work.
"I am passionate about the importance of students having the opportunity to talk, live, study and eat with people from diverse backgrounds. The ability to do that is the greatest gift we give our students," Dunn told the recipients and their guests.
"I have known that ever since I was a student from a small town in Illinois who had his views of the world changed by attending a university that attracted people from around the globe. You're about to discover the truth of what Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, 'Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.'"
Five of this spring's 39 recipients received $8,000 awards, while the rest received awards varying from $250 to $4,000 each. Award decisions are made by a committee of faculty and staff members.
The names of the five students who received $8,000 awards, along with their class years, hometowns, programs of language study, and study destinations are:
The Haenicke Institute for Global Education at WMU administers the President's Grant for Study Abroad in two cycles each academic year. The award is primarily based on financial need, with smaller grants awarded for merit only.
All of the spring 2008 recipients are enrolled for summer, fall or academic-year overseas programs in various destinations to study German, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, or the South African-based languages, Xhosa, Afrikaans and Zulu. Many of the students will complete additional non-language courses taught in the native tongue or English that are applicable to their WMU degrees.
WMU President Emeritus Diether H. Haenicke established the President's Grant for Study Abroad in 1994. A private donor later set up an endowment now valued at nearly $5 million to help students study abroad who might not have been able to afford it otherwise.
Since the grant program's inception, about $1.2 million in scholarships have been given to 625 students, says Brett Berquist, executive director of international programs.
"The PGSA makes a semester or a year abroad possible for many WMU students," Berquist notes. "It has played a pivotal role in developing international learning opportunities for students and promoting foreign language study at our university."
The deadlines to apply are March 15 to study abroad the following fall semester or academic year and Oct. 15 to study abroad the following spring semester. Applications are available from the Haenicke Institute's study abroad office, with a downloadable version posted online at www.wmich.edu/studyabroad on the office's "Scholarships" page.
The study abroad office hosts daily information sessions and walk-in advising. Days and times are listed on the offices Web site, or may be obtained by calling (269) 387-5890.
Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org