Students receive Global Scholars Grants

Sophomore Hayley Robb has been awarded a Global Scholars Grant to study abroad for a semester in Madrid, Rome and London. She will spend six weeks in each different country. “The scariest part is being alone for four months,” Robb said. Robb is from Georgetown, Kentucky and majoring in Journalism. “I want to get a new perspective,” Robb said. “I haven’t seen a lot of the world, it’ll be eye-opening.”

Sarah Yaacoub

For WKU students, educational opportunities abound, both on campus and around the world. Sophomores Sofia Kamali and Hayley Robb will be living the university’s goal of international reach starting this January, when they embark on the Council on International Educational Exchange’s Open Campus Program.

The study abroad program allows participants to study in three different countries over the course of an 18-week semester, all the while taking classes in their majors.

Both Kamali and Robb are also recipients of the Global Scholars Grant, a scholarship awarded by CIEE in the amount of ten thousand dollars in honor of Nelson Mandela’s dream of inclusion. The grant removes much of the financial burden of studying abroad, allowing students to travel and earn credit for a fraction of the original cost, a benefit Robb says impacted her decision to participate.

Robb, a journalism major and writer for the WKU Talisman, will be an international columnist for the student-operated lifestyle website and magazine next semester, documenting her experiences abroad.

“It’ll be really cool to have something to bring home and look back on later,” Robb said.

She said she is excited to represent WKU on a global stage and to have a written account with which to memorialize her trip.

Kamali is an international affairs major with a minor in political science. She will be taking classes in her major, like European politics and history, but will also study introductory Italian and Spanish while in Rome and Madrid.

While she has never studied abroad, Kamali is looking forward to the experience, hoping to build on what she is learning about international affairs and round out her education.

“I’ve always wanted to study abroad,” Kamali said. “I feel like with my major, it’s important to experience more of the world.”

Her advice to those who are considering study abroad is to start planning and applying early in order to maximize potential financial aid. She said it’s a valuable experience, particularly for those who plan to pursue a career in the foreign relations field.

“There’s a lot of dealing with people from different backgrounds and different cultures … in order to go more in depth, you have to immerse yourself,” Kamali said. 

The program, while a unique opportunity, is not without its downsides. Robb said her closeness to her family, particularly her mother, made the decision to leave the country for an entire semester a difficult one.

She had first looked into shorter study abroad trips over winter and summer terms but found those were far less cost-effective due to WKU’s policies on the application of university scholarships toward outside study abroad programs. Ultimately, she chose a full-term program that allowed her to use her tuition to pay for the courses she would be taking abroad.

Robb said that while she will miss her family, she is thrilled to be granted such an opportunity.

“I’m going to come back more mature and open-minded with so many new perspectives … it’s going to be worth it,” Robb said.

So far, the upcoming excursion has brought on mixed feelings, but mostly, it‘s surreal.

“I’m in a weird place right now,” Robb said, laughing. “It doesn’t seem real — I’m not sure it will till I get on the plane — but I’m really excited to see the world.”

Reporter Sarah Yaacoub can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahyaacoub1.