Rio Bravo teams up with the USF Study Abroad program

The USF Study Abroad Program, to many students, is a way to explore international cultures and opportunities.

One way that allows so many students to participate in the program each year is the Joan Newcomb Scholarship Fund. Newcomb, a program assistant in the International Studies office, said she wants every student to have the opportunity to study abroad.

The scholarship fund was established almost two years ago to assist students who want to study abroad.

Julie Hale, assistant director of Program Development in the Study Abroad office, said the fund was named in Newcomb’s honor to acknowledge all she has done over the years to promote studying abroad and internationalization in general at USF.

Newcomb said she originally wanted to do something to celebrate National Hispanic month and also raise more money for the fund. Newcomb said she broadened the idea by approaching the Rio Bravo restaurant management to help set up a fund-raiser.

“(Store general manger Tom LeVine) was most gracious, cooperative and friendly,” Newcomb said.

“I think the fund-raiser is great. I’m just hoping all of the students, faculty and staff would go out there and support it because I would like to see more students be able to have study abroad scholarships.”

As the Study Abroad Program grows so does its scholarship fund. The money gives students from all majors the opportunity to travel and study abroad, Newcomb said. Just last year, the fund was able to assist 11 students to study abroad in comparison to only three students the previous year.

Newcomb added that the more money raised for the fund, the more likely it is a larger number of students will want to study abroad.

Newcomb said out of every person that brings in a flyer to the restaurant, Rio Bravo would donate 15 percent of the proceeds from their dinner to the Joan Newcomb Study Abroad Scholarship Fund from Friday to Sept. 21. This fund-raiser would only take place at the Rio Bravo on Fowler Avenue. LeVine said this is the first time the restaurant has sponsored the Study Abroad Scholarship Fund but not the first time it has sponsored other USF organizations.

“We’ve actually been doing fund-raisers for the last two years,” LeVine said. “We’ve done a bunch of different USF organizations like the Lacrosse team, some sororities, Campus Activities Board and the School of Medicine, among others.”

While any student can apply to the Study Abroad Scholarship Fund, international studies students are given preference over students with other majors.

Newcomb said the International Studies program is planning other activities throughout the semester to raise money for the scholarship fund. Just last week, they raised $100 for the fund by selling lemonade in the Social Sciences Building in an effort to get new international studies majors to meet each other, Newcomb said.

There are about 300 students currently in the International Studies Program.

Just recently, an alumni solicitation organized by Newcomb helped raised around $400 for the fund.

Josue Espinoza, an International Studies major, obtained a scholarship from the Study Abroad office and will be going to France with a scholarship.

“The scholarship is going to help me out a lot actually. Whatever money I could take would help me in the long run,” Espinoza said. “I’m looking forward to the experience.”

On his first time studying abroad, Espinoza said he would be taking intensive French language courses in addition to his hopes in learning something in the process.

“Hopefully, I would be able to academically and intellectually grow,” he said.

Espinoza added that the fund-raiser is going to benefit every student who contributes because everyone is eligible for the Study Abroad scholarships.

“I’m hoping everybody would contribute. If you’re going to eat somewhere, you might as well try to get something out of it,” Espinoza said. “(This fund-raiser) is going to benefit other people and possibly yourself.”

LeVine said the partnership between the restaurant and the USF program benefits both parties.

“From our business stand point, it helps (Rio Bravo) get involved in the community and build some business from people that normally would not think of coming here,” LeVine said. “Also, (fund-raisers) give (Rio Bravo) an opportunity to give back to the community and some of the other programs around here that really help us keep our business running.”

LeVine said Rio Bravo has had plenty of success during the past two years helping set up fund-raisers with USF and its different organizations.

“The more that we do with USF, the better it is for us in terms of advertising, word-of-mouth and building our community relations.”

In regards to a restaurant being the appropriate setting for a fund-raiser Hale said it was a good idea.

“I think Rio Bravo is a fine place and a popular venue with USF students,” she said. “(Rio Bravo) seems like a good decision for someone to partner with in this particular event.”

Hale added that this scholarship was designed to recognize and award funds to deserving students, primarily international studies majors.

“I’m so pleased (the fund) has taken a life of its own and that more and more students will be benefit by these scholarships,” Hale said.