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Student uncovers $8,000 for study abroad

May  06, 2013

Augustana College sophomore Courtney Jankowski is getting ready for an unforgettable summer, a 10-week trip to Ecuador to live with a host family in the Andes Mountains. While study abroad programs can be expensive and often require financial help, she is convinced the experience should be open to any college student, and can be with the right approach.

Jankowski, a biology major from Batavia, Ill., will be using $8,000 in grants and scholarships: She is the recipient of a $4,000 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship; a $2,000 grant from the William Freistat Center for Studies in World Peace at Augustana College; and a $2,000 grant from Augie Choice, a program that provides Augustana students with up to $2,000 for international study, internships or research.

“I know that one of the big reasons why some students don’t study abroad is because of financial reasons,” Jankowski said. “There are so many opportunities out there to make study abroad possible for everyone; you just have to look.”

It may take time, but she said the rewards are worth it. “I have no doubt that foreign study is transformative in every way,” she said. “Although every experience is different, submersing yourself in a new culture changes your outlook drastically. There will be a lot of changes and new experiences in the next few months of my life, and I know that going in with an open mind will benefit me the most.”

Dr. Allen Bertsche, the director of international study programs at Augustana, agrees that study abroad programs can be vitally important for students, both in terms of educational value and career development. Right now, roughly 50 percent of the college’s students participate in a study abroad program, he said, an unusually high number that stands to rise further because of Augie Choice, a program that encourages hands-on learning experiences like overseas travel by providing up to $2,000 in financial assistance.

“Many of my students have returned home with a new vision of the world and a new appreciation of their place in it,” said Dr. Bertsche. “That is transformative, and it is what makes their education relevant to the rest of their lives.”

Jankowski said she still can’t believe she found enough grant and scholarship money to pay for the trip. “I was so unbelievably excited,” she said. “The first thing I did was call my mom, basically in tears, to tell her the news.”

She will touch down in Quito, Educador, to begin her 10-week summer adventure, and then continue overland to Cuenca, a colonial city in the Andes where she will live in the home of her host family. She will attend classes at the Centers for Interamerican Studies, with a trip to the rainforests of Ecuador’s Oriente region, and then another to visit Peru and the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu.

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833