Importance of study abroad
Prominent U.S. Department of State representatives visited UIC to address students, faculty and staff on the benefits of study abroad programs.
U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan took center stage Aug. 31 to discuss practical ways students can go abroad, and the boost international experience gives graduates when searching for a job.
“We know that résumés that have international experiences are résumés that stick out to CEOs,” Ryan said to a filled Cardinal Room in Student Center East.
The event, “Study Abroad: An Investment in Your Future,” was cosponsored by the Department of State and UIC’s Study Abroad Office. Both organizations are trying to change the perception that international experience is not accessible or affordable for most students.
“The State Department is committed to making it easier,” said Kennedy, the 29th Ambassador of the U.S. to Japan and daughter of President John F. Kennedy. “Those challenges can be overcome.”
Chris Deegan, executive director of UIC’s Study Abroad Office, echoed those sentiments before the event.
“The money piece is particularly a challenge, and this is nationwide,” Deegan said. “Study abroad does not need to be any more expensive than being on campus.
“There are programs that are very expensive — two or three times the amount a student would spend for tuition, fees and associated expenses on campus. But there are also programs that are less expensive.”
In 2015-2016, 50 percent of UIC study abroad students qualified as Pell-eligible. Students were awarded more than $250,000 in study abroad scholarships and grants, in addition to $78,500 in Gilman International Scholarships, a national award offered to U.S. undergraduates with financial constraints.
UIC students Daniel Dunson and Sheila Kelley, recipients of the Gilman International Scholarship, fielded questions from the audience after Ryan and Kennedy spoke.
The format gave the crowd first-hand examples of students who persevered past barriers to garner international experience.
“I would suggest UIC students get very close to the special scholarships department,” Dunson said. “They are a very, very wonderful asset and advocate.”
Julian Hartsfield, a sophomore in communication, attended the event because he hopes to study abroad in the future. He left with a positive outlook.
“Really just go for it,” Hartsfield said about what he learned from the event. “Try all you can and look for all the opportunities and scholarships because it’s possible. It’s very possible.”
From her vast international experience, Kennedy told students they can expect to enjoy the schooling they would receive abroad.
“It’s the most fun kind of learning because it’s just happening all around you,” Kennedy said.
To learn more about studying abroad, visit UIC’s Study Abroad Office in 502 University Hall.