OGE launches new “First Experience Abroad and Diversity Abroad” scholarship

Alec Slovenec

Kent State President Beverly Warren’s administration, in conjunction with the Office of Global Education (OGE), has created a new scholarship for students studying abroad. This new program titled “First Experience Abroad and Diversity Abroad” will focus on helping students of diversity – as well as students studying abroad for the first time – pay for their education abroad.

The scholarship will range from $500 to $4,000 depending on the specific program and how much aid each applicant needs.

The OGE announced the scholarship this past Valentine’s Day as part of “I Heart Travel Week.” Director of Education Abroad Ediz Kaykayoglu emailed information about the scholarships to Kent State students in order to assess the general interest. The email included a link to a Google Doc where students could express their interest in applying.

Within three days, over 270 students requested applications.

With this scholarship, the OGE intends to encourage students, who may not normally consider the experience as an option, to study abroad. For example, many students in engineering and computer science programs are less likely to study abroad as they have very strict schedules. According to Kaykayoglu, this scholarship is intended to encourage these types of students to go abroad.

The OGE recognizes that studying abroad has a plethora of benefits to participants, which is why it is attempting to open the program up to more students.

Stephanie Smith, professor and director of global initiatives for the College of Communication and Information, said she believes international programs are of vital importance to students’ educations, regardless of major. Smith gave the following statement in an email in regards to the new scholarships:

“We are focused on getting more students to study away, particularly students who have never traveled outside the United States before. We welcome these new scholarships because we believe they will provide significant assistance and encouragement to more students of all majors and all backgrounds to study away.”

Kevin Heller, a peer ambassador in the office of international programs and education abroad, studied abroad last semester in Costa Rica. Heller works with other students involved in study abroad programs and praises the program and its impact on students who travel out of the country for education.

“It gives them a time to finally sit still and focus – live in the moment of where they are,” said Heller. “And I think that we often forget that in today’s society of where we are now because we’re constantly working, doing school, we’re with family, we’re with friends – when you study abroad, you’re focused on one thing and one thing only, and that’s doing the work you’re supposed to do but also enjoying who you are.”

As important as studying abroad may be, financial struggle prevents many students from journeying out to explore the world. Kaykayoglu has found that money has been the largest deterrent to students studying overseas and hopes that this scholarship will help those who would like to study abroad but do not have the means.

“I go around – even when I’m shopping at Target – and I see a student who’s working there, and I ask them, ‘Have you considered studying abroad?’ First thing that they say is ‘I don’t have the money,’ or ‘There are not enough resources for me to go abroad.’ So, I want to make sure that even that student … considers studying abroad as an option,” he said.

According to Kaykayoglu, the scholarships will be open to applications within the next two weeks. Kaykayoglu encourages students to apply quickly; based on feedback from the original email, the OGE expects applications to flood in once they are available. 

Alec Slovenec is the university diversity reporter, contact him at [email protected]