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Francesa Hamm (Macomb, IL), a senior political science and English double major at Western Illinois University, on the Schlossberg (tree-covered hill) near the city of Freiburg im Bresigau in Germany this fall. Hamm is the first WIU student to be selected as a recipient of the Baden-Württemberg Scholarship at the University of Mannheim, where she is enrolled as a study abroad student.
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WIU Study Abroad Student First to Receive Baden-Württemberg Scholarship at University of Mannheim

October 17, 2016

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MACOMB, IL — Since last summer, Francesca Hamm (Macomb, IL), a senior political science and English double major enrolled at Western Illinois University, has been immersed in the German culture. This fall, Hamm is studying abroad at the University of Mannheim, which is located in the Baden-Württemberg region of Germany.

It was through an email message she learned she was selected as a nominee for the Baden-Württemberg Scholarship Program through that university's scholarship office.

"After reading up on the program a little, I was interested in the scholarship program not only because it would help with funding my studies in Germany, but also because the Baden-Württemberg Scholarship foundation organizes events in the region that I felt would be excellent opportunities for networking and enriching my experience abroad," Hamm explained. "Following the nomination by my host university, I had to submit some information on the university's website and send a copy of my curriculum vitae along with a letter of intent. After this, my application was reviewed by the scholarship foundation and I was informed of acceptance via email."

Hamm arrived in Mannheim at the beginning of August to take part in the University of Mannheim's International Summer Academy, a month-long intensive German language course.

"This semester, I am enrolled as a humanities student, and I am taking English literature courses to work toward my degree requirements for the English portion of my double major in political science and English at WIU," she explained. "I am also continuing the study of the German language this semester."

When Hamm is not in the formal classroom setting, she is taking the opportunity to learn more about the political structure of the European Union.

"In my free time, I am exploring the rich literary culture of Germany, as the courses offered by the university in English deal mostly with American or British authors," she noted.

As a recipient of the University of Mannheim's Baden-Württemberg Scholarship, Hamm said she is expected to attend the events organized by that university's foundation.

"Additionally, at the end of my semester abroad, I am required write an essay reflecting upon my experience. Upon returning to Western, I am also encouraged to inform fellow students interested in studying abroad about the Baden-Württemberg region of Germany and the wonderful educational opportunities here," she added.

Hamm said after she graduates from Western, she plans to apply to law school. She has the aspiration to work in the legal field in the area of international human rights or immigration.

"Germany is an ideal place to develop my knowledge of both of these topics," she noted. "Due to the country's past involvement in human rights issues and their modern efforts toward regeneration and reparation, this makes the country an excellent environment to be immersed in this subject matter. Additionally, Germany has recently become one of the top destinations for new immigrants, particularly those from the Middle East or eastern European countries. Mannheim, in particular, has one of the highest immigrant populations in the country, so I often come into contact with those who do not trace their ancestry to native Germans. For instance, my roommate is of Turkish descent."

When she returns home, Hamm said she hopes to continue to study the German language.

"Along with my minor in Spanish at WIU, I hope these foreign language skills will help me to pursue my internationally oriented career goals," she added.

According to Ehren Kuzekov, study abroad advisor in WIU's Office of Study Abroad and Outreach, officials at the University of Mannheim nominated Hamm for the scholarship based on her grade point average at WIU.

"The funds, which are dispensed monthly, are meant to help her with overall costs of accommodation and living expenses during her semester in Germany and are dispensed monthly, "Kuzekov explained. "This is the first time that we have had a student nominated for this award and receive it, but this is not an award we can promote and advertise to all students, because the nomination process is not administered by officials at Western. But the German government has many scholarships available to our students who want to study there for a semester, and we can assist students in applying for these awards."

For more information about Western's study abroad opportunities, contact Kuzekov at (309) 298-2504 or via email at EM-, or visit

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (
Office of University Communications & Marketing