Four students selected to receive prestigious scholarship

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Vira Heinz

The Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Women in Global Leadership has awarded four Waynesburg University women the opportunity to fulfill dreams of learning and serving abroad.

In 2012, four women will dedicate their summers to continuing Waynesburg University's mission of faith, serving and learning in faraway cultures: one as an intern, two as young teachers and all as students of new experiences and cultural differences.

Waynesburg University has been awarded four scholarships which will afford the women the opportunity to experience a journey unlike any other. The scholarships offer the recipients a combined total of $24,000 in scholarship money.

Overseen by The Heinz Endowments and administered through the University of Pittsburgh's Center for International Studies, the Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Women in Global Leadership started as one $1,000 check given each fall to a junior woman at an area university. Today the Vira I. Heinz Foundation offers several $5,000 scholarships to women at 16 local and regional colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

The four recipients of the 2012 Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Women in Global Leadership include Jenna Griffith, Angele Hagy, T'Erika Perry and Hannah Szymanik. Through the scholarship, these women will travel and study overseas through three study abroad programs.

Griffith, a junior nursing major from Cambridge, Ohio, will spend her summer in San Ignacio, Belize. From June 2 to June 30, she will serve as an intern in the San Ignacio Hospital to further the nursing skills she has acquired at Waynesburg University.

“Although Belize has many natural beauties, the country still struggles against poverty, inequality and a lack of opportunity,” Griffith said. “This scholarship will enable me to serve and learn in a country where medical assistance is needed and will help shape my life as a nurse.”

Both Hagy, a sophomore early childhood and special education major from Pittsburgh, Pa., and Szymanik, a sophomore early childhood and special education major from Mount Holly Springs, Pa., will spend the summer in Cape Coast, Ghana, through ProWorld, an international study program. The women will volunteer as teaching assistants at an elementary school for five weeks during the months of May and June.

Through Seattle Central Community College, both Hagy and Szymanik will take courses in international education. For Szymanik, the Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Women in Global Leadership means a jump start to her future.

“A long term goal of mine is to live in Africa as a missionary, and this scholarship allows me to begin that journey,” Szymanik said. “I am excited to start showing love to underprivileged children in a part of the world that has captured my heart.

Perry, a sophomore international studies major from Baltimore, Md., will study in Barcelona, Spain, May 29 to July 27. She will forever refer to this experience as a cotillion of sorts due to an unfulfilled family tradition.
“In my family we have a tradition of holding a cotillion for the women in the family as they come of age,” Perry said. “During the senior year of high school, the women are acknowledged as adults and given the opportunity to travel to surrounding states.” 

Because her mother passed away during her junior year of high school, Perry never received her cotillion celebration.

“Vira I. Heinz is like a cotillion for me,” Perry said. “It is my opportunity to forge a bond as an adult with the women in my family; this program is giving me a chance to get an experience I thought I missed out on.”
The four women were required to submit an application, academic and personal letters of reference and a proposal for their intended plans. Applicants were also required to explain how the trip related to their academic areas of study and future plans.

Each recipient is required to attend two weekend retreats, one before traveling and one upon return, as well as a community engagement experience with an international focus after traveling. These requirements encourage the women to think deeply about their study abroad experience and apply the world lessons to life at Waynesburg University.