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This year, the Western Illinois University Office of Study Abroad and Outreach staff has plans to more than double the number of study abroad scholarships awarded to WIU students. According to Director Pedro Bidegaray, this year his staff plans to award 28 scholarships (up from 12 last academic year). Some WIU students who have studied abroad or are studying abroad currently are (clockwise from left): Robert Lewis, a law enforcement and justice administration, Thailand; Melanie Herra-Ortiz, a pre-business major on the WIU-QC campus, South Korea; Semaj Arnold, an engineering technology major, Japan; and Jesse Caverly, a BGS (Bachelor of Arts in General Studies) major and a member of the Centennial Honors College, Ireland.
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WIU Office of Study Abroad and Outreach to More Than Double Number of Study Abroad Scholarships for 2016-17

October 24, 2016


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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL — This year, the Western Illinois University Office of Study Abroad and Outreach staff has plans to more than double the number of study abroad scholarships awarded to WIU students. According to Director Pedro Bidegaray, last year, the study abroad office and outreach selected 12 students to receive scholarship funds to help fund their study abroad programs.

"This year, we are planning to increase that number to 28 scholarships," he said. "Much of our scholarship funding for study abroad is derived from three endowed funds, the Conger Scholarship, the Wehrly Scholarship and the Center for International Studies (CIS) Scholarship. Every year, returns from those endowed funds provide the bulk of funding for our scholarship programs; however, this year, as a result of long-standing fiscally conservative management practices, we realized that available funding was significantly higher. This means we can increase the number of awards without risking the financial future of our program."

In addition, Bidegaray noted a community-based initiative inspired by WIU President Emeritus Alvin Goldfarb has supported the Office of Study Abroad and Outreach's capacity to increase the number of awards this academic year.

"In 2003, our office, in coordination with President Goldfarb, led a group of community members to visit different theatre venues in New York. This first initiative became the Community Theatre Tour, which has been organized annually ever since. A year ago, we, along with Music Professor John Cooper, decided to add another community tour to explore the jazz scene in New Orleans. The sole intention of these events is to raise funds to support students who want to study abroad," he added.

Bidegaray said funds from the Conger Scholarship and the Wehrly Scholarship can be used to support students interested in studying a semester abroad, while the CIS Scholarship can support students who want to take part in shorter study abroad programs, such as Western's many faculty-led programs.

"These scholarships help students pay for a portion of fees for study abroad programs; thus, it helps us to encourage students to consider studying abroad," he noted. "Today, studying abroad is an integral part of higher education as it helps raise the profile of a professional who plans to succeed in a globalized society."

Bidegaray also said the WIU Office of Study Abroad and Outreach will award a small portion of the available scholarship funds through an upcoming student contest.

"This contest will provide prizes for up to $2,250 to three students who answer the question, 'What inspires me to study abroad?' Participants will be asked to submit one short video each, and the winners will be selected based on the creativity of those videos. The contest is a recognition of the relevance of social media and the important role it plays in our students' lives," he said.

For more information, contact Bidegaray at PE-Bidegaray@wiu.edu.

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (WIUNews@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations