Studying abroad on scholarship

In a tough economy, college students and graduates are finding it more difficult to gain employment or admission to graduate school. However, USF officials say getting away from Tampa might help – that is, by studying abroad.

Studying abroad has an impact on employers and can distinguish college graduates from others with similar credentials, said Arnaldo Mejias, coordinator of national scholarships in the Honors College.

“Perceptions that they have ‘survived’ in a particular country is impressive and makes the applicant stand out,” he said.

Money is one factor that makes many students shy away from studying abroad, but Mejias said there are many scholarships available to those with a 3.0 or higher GPA.

Students can receive the Gilman International Scholarship, which is available to Pell Grant recipients and is aimed toward students who might otherwise be unable to travel abroad.

This scholarship was awarded to Rachael Tackett, a senior majoring in liberal studies who is studying economics at the University of Ghana and completing her honors thesis on microfinance. Her scholarship covers up to $8,000.

The Boren Scholarship is also available for students who wish to study a foreign language abroad, Mejias said. It can cover up to $20,000 and is aimed at students planning to study in rarely visited countries. For graduate students proficient in a foreign language, there is the Fulbright Scholarship.

Danielle Kurant, who graduated from USF with a biomedical science degree, studied for a semester at Middlesex University in London – an experience she believes helped her get in to USF’s medical school.

Kurant said that during interviews with various medical schools, she was always asked about her study abroad experience.

“It definitely helped distinguish myself from other graduate school applicants,” she said.

Students also study abroad for personal enrichment. Kurant said she networked and made contacts that gained her an internship teaching children at a church in London, where she plans to return this summer.

“You become more aware of people’s perspectives of the international community and you broaden your horizons and learn to appreciate things,” she said.

For more information on study abroad scholarships, contact the Honors College at 813-974-3087.