Professor awards scholarship to teach abroad


Debra Clark and Cristin Williams, a middle childhood education major, hold Clark’s textbook “The Bias Beneath the Facts: Education in a Democratic Society.” Williams received the Clark International Travel Scholarship.

Alexandra Seibt

A College of Education, Health and Human Services professor handed out her first ever scholarship award to one deserving student in the fall to use this spring.

Cristin Williams, a senior middle childhood education major, received the Clark International Travel Scholarship from Debra Clark, an associate professor for the School of Foundations, Leadership and Administration.

The award permits Williams to spend two months in New Zealand where she will teach math. Williams said she is set to leave March 11 and will return just in time for graduation.

“I never expected to go overseas let alone receive a scholarship,” Williams said. “I think it is an amazing opportunity to go somewhere else and experience their culture and their cultural preferences.”

Clark wrote a textbook published in 2012 titled ‘The Bias Beneath the Facts: Education in a Democratic Society’ and instead of receiving profits from the book, all sales fund the international travel scholarship.

“It’s unethical to require students to buy a book that I profit from, so that’s when I came up with the idea for the scholarship,” Clark said. “When I was in college, I couldn’t afford to go across to any other country, it is only later in life that I have even had this opportunity, so I wanted to make it available for those students least likely to have this opportunity. I got involved in Network of Diverse Educators Program (NDEP)  and a lot of students in NDEP would greatly gain from this experience.”

According to its website, NDEP is a mentoring program that is part of the Office of Diversity Outreach and Development and meets with students once a month to provide them with any additional support they need in order to be successful in the teacher education program.

 “NDEP is awesome. I meet a lot of people in the College of Education just networking with other students who are like you who also are interested and motivated by education and kids,” Williams said. “It feels good to be around people who are like you.”

Daniel Nilsson, the director of Academic Diversity Outreach expressed how pleased he was to have this scholarship awarded to a student.  

“My office is really happy to hear that (this is) a mentoring program that comes out of us and a student can really benefit and really get a chance to add something really meaningful to their resume,” Nilsson said.

Since Clark acted as a mentor to Williams in NDEP,  Clark wanted Williams to be the first to receive the scholarship. Clark said after this year, every two years new students who are also involved NDEP will submit an application, and with the help of the Office of Diversity Outreach and Development, they will choose another deserving student to receive the scholarship.  

“Self-responsibility is really important to me. Someone who wants to help students, but not any student. The students who are least helped in schools and low-income students, and someone who hasn’t had the opportunities other people had,” Clark said. “She (Williams) is putting herself through college. She is doing it on her own. She’s responsible. She’s going to be a great teacher someday.”

Alexandra Seibt is the EEHS reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected]