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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.


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As servants for God, we are called to continually give to others. In 1 Peter 4:10, the Bible states “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.” At Waynesburg University, students are taught to provide assistance using their specific gifts and talents. Each semester, Community Impact Grants are awarded during Who's Your Neighbor Week to students who want to make a difference in the community. Since the fall of 2009, students have been able to see a need within the local community and apply for a grant to aid their choice of project.

This year, three organizations received a total of $3,000. The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Freshman Bonner Scholars and the 2011 Vira Heinz recipients were selected by a committee consisting of university faculty, staff and administration based on the project's value to the community, the project's fundamental short- and long-term impact and its planning and implementation process.

Sarah Brandstetter, Bonner Scholar coordinator and a member of the selection committee, believes that these grants are a blessing to the community and the students through the application of Waynesburg University foundations.

“It is so exciting to see students connect faith, service and learning through civic engagement,” Brandstetter said. “All three organizations have researched our local community to find its needs and have come up with exciting ways to educate and excite the community about these issues.”

Individuals were able to apply for a $500 grant; classes, groups or organizations could apply for a $1,000 grant. Grant recipients are required to complete their project within the current semester and are eligible for one award per school year. Candidates were required to fill out an application that included a budget and a recommendation from a non-family member.

After being reactivated last fall, the Council for Exceptional Children sought to build relationships and a sense of community between local families with students with special needs and University students. The $1,000 grant received will support Activity Day on campus planned for April 21.

Shannon Bartley, junior elementary education major and CEC president, is grateful for the additional funds that will make this day a success.

“We hope this day we have planned not only provides a fun day for the children, but also shows others that people with disabilities are just like everyone else and deserve to be included,” Bartley said.

The University's freshman Bonner class received $1,000 for its Distractions While Driving project. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about the risks of distracted driving through the “Arrive Alive Tour.” The Arrive Alive Tour enables community members to climb into a vehicle and virtually experience distracted driving through a simulator.

Freshman Bonner Scholar and psychology major Kyle Digiandomenico anticipates the positive effects of the simulation.

“We believe if we can save one life by providing individuals with the experiences and information which enables them to rethink their choices, our mission was accomplished,” Digiandomenico said.

The 2011 Vira Heinz recipients received $1,000 for their Mondo Giusto and Garden: Ethical Consumerism and Sustainable Living project. Mondo Giusto will educate the community and campus about practices of fair trade, buying locally and living sustainably. In addition, the Vira Heinz recipients will hold a dedication ceremony for a garden which will serve as a beautiful and sustainable connection between the campus and community.

Megan Peebles, a 2011 recipient and junior interactive design major, hopes their event will showcase the importance of buying locally and cause community members to consider fair trade.


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