Student Senate scholarships: Club encourages studying abroad

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Student Senate is giving away a total of $14,000 for 14 students to make their study abroad dreams a reality. Eighteen students applied this first round, for $1,000 that would help fund a student’s upcoming summer or winter study abroad travel course.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Steve Klein, director of the university center and student activities. “It can make or break someone’s ability to go or not. And studying abroad can change someone’s perspective on life.”

While the deadline for the first round was Oct. 10, there is much to understand about this unique grant process to apply in the spring.

Remington Steele, Student Senate vice president of communications said the most important part is need.

“Seventy percent is based on financial need,” he said.

There are six requirements to apply for the money. First, applicants must have little to no study abroad experience. They must have a minimum GPA of 2.5.

If students meet those prerequisites, they are required to write two 250-word essays explaining their level of financial aid and what they hope to gain from the experience. The next round is a short interview process with members of the Student Senate’s Communications Committee and other volunteer students.

“It’s students giving back to students,” said Steele. He said he wanted members of the Student Senate to abstain from the interview process for that reason. “We try to be as subjective as possible and avoid conflicts of interest during this process.”

Once applicants are chosen, they must go on their trip and successfully complete it.

And finally, they must prepare a five to ten minute presentation about their trip and participate in a forum with other applicants who received the scholarship.

“I think that the more people who receive it the more people will apply,” said Steele. “The more people who go on trips, the more people need the money and those people will tell their friends about the experience and how Student Senate helped them and hopefully we can help even more.”

The process starts with the Financial Aid office giving Steele a list of the applicants in order of financial aid needs. The interview process includes questions of how the trip would affect applicant’s future goals, career and aspirations.

“We want to give it to people who need it the most and will get the most out of the experience,” said Steele. “I would rather give it to someone with less financial aid if I know they’re really going to learn more from the experience.”

If there is a sense that applicants are applying to go party, for example, in a country where the legal drinking age is lower than in the United States, Steele said those people will not likely be chosen.

“We are getting the scholarship to the people who need it most,” he said.

This scholarship started five years ago. The first year, Student Senate only had five scholarships to give away and only four people applied that year.

Last year nine or ten students applied, according to Klein. This year they are able to give a minimum of six scholarships away and eighteen students applied.

“We try to open doors and enrich your experience at Pacific,” said Klein. “There’s a transformation that happens when you study abroad.”

During the spring semester there will be another chance to apply for the remaining scholarships.


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