Through the Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership, Waynesburg University has selected six young women to study abroad this summer. Waynesburg is one of only 15 higher education institutions across Pennsylvania to participate in the Program and was granted six scholarships rather than the traditional three.
Collectively, the women received more than $37,600 in scholarship money through the Vira I. Heinz Program.
Pat Bristor, associate dean of students and the Waynesburg University coordinator of the Vira I. Heinz Program for almost 20 years, said that the young women represent the best of Waynesburg University.
“We are pleased to have such bright young women at Waynesburg University who are interested in the world around them,” said Bristor. “To have six women chosen speaks to the quality of our academics, faith integration and service opportunities.”
The Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership prepares women for tomorrow's global challenges by offering a unique opportunity for international experiences, leadership development and community service. Typically, three women from each institution are admitted into the one-year program and receive a scholarship of at least $5,000 to put toward the cost of an international experience of their choosing.
Juniors Ellen Limback, Rebecca Shindelar and Allyson Wernert and sophomores Caley Blankenbuehler, Cassandra Gates and Madison Perretta are the 2014 Waynesburg University recipients of scholarships from the Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership. The scholarships will afford these women the opportunity to travel and study overseas through various study abroad programs.
Limback, an early childhood education (special education) major from Mars, Pa., will study in Cuzco, Peru, through Projects Abroad, one of the world’s leading international volunteer organizations.
While there, she will work in a small village school helping to teach children English. She looks forward to experiencing a different culture, improving her Spanish language skills and developing her teaching experience.
Shindelar, a junior human services (social science) major from Bemidji, Minn., will travel to Brasov, Romania, also through Projects Abroad. She will volunteer at an orphanage and take two online summer courses.
“Through my courses in the humanities, I have been equipped with knowledge about the need to interact with and explore the depth of culture and different styles of living in other places around the world,” Shindelar said.
Allyson Wernert, a junior international studies (international culture) and political science major from Finleyville, Pa., will take her talents to Tokyo, Japan, this summer through Sophia University. She will take classes in Japanese language and culture. Wernert hopes to meet and make friends from all over the world.
Blankenbuehler, a mathematics (secondary education) major from West Newton, Pa., will spend her summer in Southern India through Projects Abroad. There, she will teach English and mathematics to students.
“At Waynesburg I’ve learned a lot about what it's like to be a Christian and I have developed a relationship with God, so I know that He will be there with me through my whole trip,” Blankenbuehler said.
Gates, a chemistry (biochemistry) major from Penn Hills, Pa., will travel to Costa Rica through International Studies Abroad (ISA). She will study the Spanish language and environmental studies and participate in volunteer work projects such as species monitoring and trail cleaning.
“I am most looking forward to the experiences and growth that will come with the scholarship,” Gates said. “I have the chance to meet other women who value becoming global leaders. Without the scholarship, I would not have been able to do this.”
Perretta, a sophomore sociology major from Beaver Falls, Pa., will study through IES Abroad’s Summer Psychology Program in Vienna, Austria. She will learn about different methods of communicating with and treating individuals with mental illnesses.
“As a student at Waynesburg University, I've been given incredible opportunities to push myself academically and as a leader on campus,” Perretta said. “This has led me to become prepared to be a leader on campus and, in the future, a leader abroad.”
Scholarship recipients were required to complete an application, submit academic and personal letters of reference and a proposal for their intended plans. The proposal included a budget for the trip including the cost of airfare, classes, housing and meals, among other items. Applicants were also required to explain how the trip related to their academic areas of study and future plans.
Upon receiving the application and proposals, interviews were held in front of a committee. The students were selected based on their proposal, their leadership on campus, and how well the committee felt they would represent Waynesburg University and the United States abroad.
The Heinz Endowments supports efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center for learning and educational excellence, and a region that embraces diversity and inclusion.
The Program has three principal components: the international experience, the Community Engagement Experience and two weekend-long, intensive leadership development retreats. During the spring semester prior to and the fall semester following their international experiences, the awardees meet in Pittsburgh. These trainings provide the awardees with a foundation of skills necessary to maximize cultural learnings while abroad and to engage their leadership skills in their own communities upon their return.
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