Bank grant sends SUNY Cortland students to Spain

The following is a republished press release…to submit a community announcement, email Peter Blanchard at [email protected].

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Spending her junior year in Salamanca, Spain last semester changed SUNY Cortland senior Shareefah Pereira’s life.

“Studying abroad was not only about learning Spanish, but about discovering my passion for languages and travel,” said Pereira, a dual major in early childhood and childhood education and Spanish from Binghamton, N.Y.

Some 30 SUNY Cortland students will study abroad in Salamanca, Spain, next spring and fall with support from new travel awards arranged by the State University of New York through Santander Bank.

Coincidentally some 30 students already had applied to study in Salamanca next spring even before the grant for $20,000 was announced, according to Mary Schlarb, director of international programs at SUNY Cortland.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 1.27.41 PM“Scholarships are a way to help students have the amazing opportunity of participating and we want to make it work for them,” Schlarb said. “Salamanca is one of our most popular programs with high marks from students.”

She refers to a program International Programs Office has operated for more than 35 years.

During Spring and Fall 2016 some of these SUNY Cortland students — and perhaps others who apply before the Thursday, Oct. 15 deadline — potentially will see their costs offset by awards of up to $5,000 as part of the SUNY-Santander Global Scholars program, Schlarb said.

The College is one of 20 colleges and universities in the 64-campus system that SUNY selected to distribute the award for students planning studies in Spanish-speaking countries on behalf of the Spanish bank.

SUNY Cortland was chosen for the SUNY-Santander Global Scholars program based on criteria that included demonstrated commitment to providing scholarship funds to students from underserved populations; existing collaboration agreements that would benefit from immediate SUNY student travel; and having a successful ongoing program that merits support.

According to the grant’s stipulations, SUNY students can receive up to $5,000 for semester-long study abroad. Most SUNY Cortland students will receive between $1,000 and $2,000.

The College’s International Programs Office decides the size of each student’s award, but no one student will receive more than $5,000, according to Schlarb. The amount each SUNY Cortland recipient receives will be determined through an evaluation of their grade point averages (with a minimum 2.7 or higher GPA), resumes, recommendations and students’ financial needs.

In early 2014, the College joined Generation Study Abroad, a nationwide effort to ultimately get thousands more American students to graduate with the international experience necessary for success in a globalized world.

Reaching the College’s goal to double participation by 2020 means that more than 28 percent of the College’s undergraduate and graduate students would venture outside America’s borders to expand their intellectual horizons, according to Schlarb.

In 2011-12, 14.3 percent of the College’s undergraduate and graduate students traveled abroad for a semester of study, course, class project, internship or service learning opportunity. Presently, that percentage has increased to 17 percent of graduates.

The College encourages a large number of students to study abroad in order to develop their global competence, Schlarb noted.

“We believe international experiences, whether semester-long study, internships, student teaching or service learning, offer students transformational opportunities to enhance students’ academic learning, broaden their perspectives and develop skills and self-confidence that will serve them in their professional and personal lives,” Schlarb said.

“I was able to step out of my comfort zone, see the world, try new things and get college credit for it,” Pereira. “I would definitely encourage everybody to study abroad and uncover something interesting about themselves. Studying abroad is all about taking chances; and that is one chance I do not regret.”

To reach the Generation Study Abroad goal, International Programs strives to help students find funding resources available to them, including the many other scholarships available to SUNY Cortland students for scholarship elsewhere in the world, according to Schlarb.

“We are committed to helping all students overcome barriers to participating in international programs, so they, too, can seize the opportunity to broaden their perspectives, enhance their skills and enrich their college experience,” she said.

“Study abroad can be affordable for many students,” according to Schlarb.

The office holds a Study Abroad Fair along with numerous Study Abroad 101 information sessions. Students fresh back from their travel abroad visit classes on campus as interns and speak about their experience. International Programs staff works closely with faculty to see how opportunities to learn in another country might fit into their classes.

For more information on SUNY-Santander Global Scholars or the College’s program in Salamanca, Spain, contact Schlarb at 607-753-2209. For more information on other study abroad programs, visit the International Programs Office in Old Main, Room 219.

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