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b2ap3_thumbnail_Vira-Heinz-2014.jpgThrough 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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Contact: Ashley Wise, Communication Specialist

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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Spring Break 2012, Bolivia! 141 resized 600

In 2009, Esteban Saldi boarded a plane and traveled approximately 6,500 miles to Waynesburg, Pa., with a plan. Saldi, a Waynesburg University sophomore at the time, never imagined that just three years later his plan would actually become a reality.

A 2012 human services alumnus, Saldi recently led a Waynesburg University mission service trip to his native La Paz, Bolivia. This past March, Saldi, joined by Dave Calvario, director of the Center for Service Leadership at Waynesburg University, and six additional Waynesburg students, strengthened his personal partnership with Samaritan's Purse when he returned home to work on a project close to his heart.

For more than 40 years, Samaritan's Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization, has worked to bring assistance in the name of Jesus Christ to those hurting around the world. Inspired by the organization's mission and after his work on a well digging project during the summer of his freshman year, Saldi felt called to rejoin Samaritan's Purse.

With the longing in his heart, Saldi approached Dave Calvario, dean of students and director of the Center for Service Leadership, to discuss the possibility of a university trip. During their spring break this past March, Calvario, Saldi, and six other Waynesburg University students created a University “first” while breathing life into Saldi's 3-year-old dream.

Partnering with Samaritan's Purse for the first time, the mission service team was given the opportunity to directly connect faith, learning and serving while making a difference in a fellow classmate's native country. Saldi's mentor and peers came away from the trip humbled by the experience.

“Most of us take for granted on a daily basis that, when I turn on a faucet in America, clean drinkable water will come out,” Calvario said. “This is not the case in many countries.”

The experience was all that Saldi had hoped for, and at times, he said, seemed dreamlike.

“At moments it seemed unreal that Waynesburg students were having lunch at my house and spending time with my family,” he said.

Saldi, according to Calvario, added to the richness of the trip, Calvario said.

Also a Bonner Scholar, Saldi, spent more than 140 hours each semester serving others while personifying the mission of Waynesburg. Through his Waynesburg University mission service trip experiences and his work with Habitat for Humanity, St. Ann's Soup Kitchen and World Vision, his focus in life developed and changed.

“Service has become more than just volunteer work, it is a lifestyle,” Saldi said. “I serve not only because of the abilities I have, but because of the needs of the people around me.”

Described as a quiet, shy individual as a freshman, Calvario said he knew the University had gained “a diamond in the rough.”

“During his time at Waynesburg and being part of the Bonner Scholar Program, I witnessed a tremendous amount of growth in Esteban. He has truly become a servant leader,” Calvario said.

To describe Saldi and the depth of his kindheartedness, Calvario summarizes Luke 5: 12-13, where Jesus, filled with compassion, reaches out His hand, touches a man with leprosy and immediately the leprosy leaves the man.

“I have witnessed Esteban time and time again filled with compassion, reaching out his hand to help and love others,” Calvario said.

Saldi's willingness to take action and his desire to make a difference would eventually bring about Saldi's involvement in eight mission service trips, both domestic and international, through his eight semesters at Waynesburg University. Placing substantial meaning on the phrase, “saving the best for last,” Saldi's undergraduate career culminated with perhaps one of his most memorable service experiences to date.

Above all, Saldi recognizes the role faith and service has played in his growth. He plans to further expand that growth through his position as a Work Site Liaison for the Pittsburgh Project.

Saldi's personal commitment to making a difference has left a profound impact on Waynesburg University.

“Esteban has truly left his fingerprints at Waynesburg University and around the globe,” Calvario said.


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Year in and year out,Waynesburg University students learn the importance of assisting those in need. During their fall, winter and spring breaks, students have the opportunity to travel the world to serve others, living out the mission of Waynesburg and spreading the love of God. While most students visit foreign territories, one student is returning to his native land.

Esteban Saldi, a senior human services major from La Paz, Bolivia, will travel with Dave Calvario, dean of students and director of the Center for Service Leadership, and six additional students to Caquiaviri, Bolivia during spring break. This is the first time Waynesburg students have visited the South American country.

“The aspect of this trip that excites me the most is that we are going to Esteban's home country,” Calvario said. “This has been a trip he and I have talked about for more than three years and it has finally come together.”
At the end of his freshman year, Saldi worked in a well digging project through Samaritan's Purse. The inspiration for the trip to Bolivia came from this partnership and working to bring water to rural communities.

This is the first time Waynesburg University is partnering with Samaritan's Purse for a service trip. For more than 40 years, Samaritan's Purse has worked to bring assistance in the name of Jesus Christ to those hurting around the world. Through various projects, they reach out to suffering children, disaster areas, disease and famine victims. They provide first class medical service as well as supplying mission hospitals with much needed equipment and supplies.

Calvario anticipates the experience of the burgeoning partnership and helping others receive clean water.

“Most of us take for granted on a daily basis that, when I turn on a faucet in America, clean drinkable water will come out,” Calvario said. “This is not the case in many countries. Partnering with a Christian organization like Samaritan's Purse will allow us further our University's goal to connect faith, learning and serving.”

Saldi is excited to show his peers and Calvario his home, where he spent his childhood, as well as allow them to see his culture. Although they have a lot of work to complete, time will be reserved for Saldi to take them around his country.

“What I would enjoy the most is being able to share the experience with other students as they get to be in my country and learn new things from my culture,” Saldi said. “I am happy to share any information I can in order to educate people about my country.”

Additionally, 84 students will serve on three other trips during break. Fourteen will travel to the Florida Springs Institute to reintroduce a plant species vital to the manatee habitat. Traveling to Belize, 13 students will assist in tutoring and construction. Continuing an established partnership, 36 will spend a week working with the Pittsburgh Project. Twenty-one will assist the Lake Norman Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Concord, N.C.


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