Three University of Wisconsin-Stout students have received significant scholarships to help them study internationally during the 2021-22 academic year.
Melissa Neumaier, of Reedsburg, a senior game design and development – art major, has been was awarded a Government of Flanders Priority Country Scholarship. The near $5,800 scholarship will allow Neumaier to attend Howest University in Belgium this fall.
The goal of the scholarship is to promote the exchange of students between Belgium and Brazil, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the United States. The scholarship is very competitive with only eight applications per country allowed.
For the first time, two UW-Stout students garnered a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, named for the late congressman from New York who served in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee.
Hannah Waldner, of Madison, a sophomore majoring in art education, and Yohana Ohlrogge, of Middleton, a junior majoring in rehabilitation services, each received an award of $4,500 to study abroad in spring 2022. The scholarship is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Institute of International Education.
Waldner will study at the Accademia Italiana in Florence, Italy. “My main purpose for going there is the art classes,” Waldner said.
Ohlrogge will be studying at the American College of Greece in Athens. “I chose Athens because they have so many different majors there including rehabilitation,” Ohlrogge said.
Creating global awareness and leaders
Scott Pierson, director of the Office of International Education, said OIE is excited to begin the return to study abroad after a year and a half of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Studying abroad opens up so many doors for our students, with immediate and long-term positive impact,” Pierson said. “Participation helps students develop soft skills that employers desire, such as teamwork, navigating ambiguity, acquiring proficiency in a foreign language, gaining confidence, independence and leadership skills. These skills contribute to the development of a globally competitive workforce and present a competitive advantage for those who engage.
“When Stout students participate in an exchange program, an international student from the overseas exchange partner university is able to study at Stout, further internationalizing the Stout campus and community,” he added. “Bringing this global reciprocity to the classroom promotes a diversity of ideas and enriches learning for all.”
Neumaier leaves next month for Flanders, Belgium. She is in the process of learning Dutch. She is excited to not only see the county but also to attend Howest University.
“They are well known for their game design and development programs,” Neumaier said. “It will help me with my degree to experience a new country and how they teach there. I am looking forward to making new friends. I love meeting new people. I’m very excited for classes. It’s great to step out of your comfort zone and experience another part of the world.”
Neumaier decided to study game design and development because, as a youth, games helped her make friends and develop math and reading skills.
Eliminating financial barriers to study abroad
Andria Morse, OIE interim assistant director of study abroad, said scholarships help make studying abroad financially feasible.
“Receiving a scholarship can mean the difference as to whether one studies abroad,” Morse said. “Eliminating the cost barrier opens more opportunities to students who may initially dismiss the idea, thinking that study abroad is not within budget.”
OIE has been working collaboratively with Stout University Foundation to increase scholarship funding for study abroad. Currently, additional funding opportunities exist for the heritage-based study abroad program series that are being planned for winter terms 2022, 2023 and 2024, programs that were developed to attract underrepresented student participation.
Students interested in studying abroad for a semester or academic year are encouraged to seek out institutional scholarships from UW-Stout’s partners as well. For example, Korea University – Sejong Campus offers a scholarship that covers round-trip airfare up to $1,300, housing in an on-campus residence hall and two meals per day. Sejong Campus is also an exchange program; students pay UW-Stout tuition and fees., Students are encouraged to contact OIE to explore these opportunities.
Ohlrogge knew she wanted to study abroad because her three sisters and mother traveled as part of their education to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity.
“I’ve heard how study abroad changes you as a person,” Ohlrogge said. “I’m most excited to learn the Greek culture and meet the people there. I’m really excited to see the ruins.”
Waldner said earning the scholarship built her confidence. She encourages others to apply for scholarships and plan to study abroad.
“It’s important to see things from different perspectives and not to be totally immersed in your own world,” Waldner said. “You have to see different points of view.”
OIE ready to help
Scholarship application processes can be quite competitive, Pierson said. OIE staff have been trained by Gilman to advise students on the program and how to prepare a successful application.
They believe Gilman and several other scholarships are well within reach of many UW-Stout students, and the office is available to provide support. Interested students are encouraged to attend Gilman Scholarship information sessions and encouraged to contact OIE staff at least a few weeks prior to application deadlines.
The next Gilman Scholarship application for spring, summer and fall 2022, as well as the 2022-23 academic year, is due Tuesday, Oct. 5. Students must submit transcripts and essays on statements of purpose and community impacts.
This fall the Study Abroad Fair is planned on Wednesday, Sept. 22, both in person and online. The in-person component is planned from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. allowing students the opportunity to engage with faculty program leaders, study abroad alumni, international exchange students and study abroad advisers and attend live presentations from study abroad partners. There also will be virtual presentations in the evening featuring partners in Japan and Australia.