On Tuesday, January 30, 2018, Diversity Abroad announced that the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) won the 2018 Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion in International Education (EDIIE) award for Financial Support. The impact of LSA’s ongoing commitment to financial support has profoundly extended and diversified the cohort of students CGIS as a study-abroad office has been able to serve.

“Being able to extend this type of transformative experience to students who normally would not consider it within the realm of possibility has only been possible through the extraordinary generosity of LSA donors, Dean Andrew Martin, the entire college leadership’s commitment to global study, and the LSA Scholarship Office who coordinates this incredible scholarship program,” said Pardip Bolina, Associate Director of the Center for Global and Intercultural Study. “It would be impossible to list everyone within the college — from our sister advising units to our advancement office — who continually help spread the word about the value of international experiences and opportunities for funding.” 

For the last 6 years, the LSA Scholarship Office at the University of Michigan has offered the LSA Study Abroad Scholarship, providing over $7 million in scholarships to eligible LSA students participating in CGIS programs. In 2016-17 alone, the LSA Scholarship Office awarded $1.7 in scholarships to LSA Students. This commitment by the college allowed over 400 students with financial aid to study abroad on credit-bearing programs, with an average LSA Study Abroad Scholarship award of $4,262.  

LSA Scholarships has made it possible for thousands of students to participate in global education programs without having to worry about financial barriers, and in some cases has covered the full cost associated with the experience. Such a resource is essential to students who cannot afford to study abroad, even with a partial scholarship. The positive experiences that students have had through LSA’s Study Abroad Scholarship program over the years have spread by word-of-mouth, resulting in an ever-increasing number of students with high financial need participating on CGIS programs.

“This scholarship gave me the opportunity to expand my horizons, to travel to a place where I've always dreamed of going,” Alejandro Perez, Psychology major & GCC Japan: Japanese Art & Culture participant said.  “It gave me a chance to interact and learn about a culture that I knew little about, and to represent the ideas and morals of the University of Michigan abroad. The LSA Scholarship also helped put to rest my financial worries about the trip.”

In 2016-17, CGIS sent a total of 1,076 students abroad. 30% of those students were Pell-eligible on a campus where typically only 15% of students are Pell-eligible. Because of the college’s commitment, CGIS is able to advertise to LSA Pell eligible-students that if they are admitted into two of our larger summer study-abroad programs, they will automatically receive a scholarship for the full program fee amount, and are eligible to apply for a scholarship to cover additional costs associated with travel that are not included in the program fee. In the 2014 - 2015 academic year CGIS sent 218 Pell students on global programs; in 2015-16 that number rose to 266. This past year 322 Pell-eligible students participated on CGIS programs.   

"The partnership between CGIS and our Scholarships Office was written into the College's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan, and for good reason," Angela Dillard, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts said. "With access to funding and an inventive 'I Am Study Abroad' campaign, CGIS continues to succeed in providing the inspiration — and the funding — for all students to dream big, travel widely, and learn in unique ways — regardless of their financial circumstances."

Three years ago, the College of LSA (through its Comprehensive Studies Program) also launched a new initiative so that Bridge Scholars PLUS & Summer Bridge students could obtain free passports in their first year of college. The thought was that by getting a passport, students would take a critical step towards realizing a study-abroad experience. This year, the LSA Scholarship Office has extended the funding to all incoming first-year LSA students who are Pell-eligible, and the goal next year is to be able to provide funding for all Pell-eligible students within LSA to get a passport.  

“Being an LSA Scholarship Recipient allowed me to participate in a unique program that both enlightened and enriched my understanding of global scholarship and what it means to be a global citizen. As a self-proclaimed conservationist, I thought I understood the issues facing our world relatively well. Wildlife Management Studies in Tanzania offered me insight into environmental justice and the theory of ethical conservation from a human standpoint that I had never even considered,” Claire Gregory, Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity major said. “Having never traveled abroad before, I didn't know what conservation looked like internationally. I now have begun to understand the many complex ways that humanity, nature, and the government interact beyond the U.S. because I left Ann Arbor. This program has helped me re-route my career and personal life goals, and I will be forever thankful.”

According to Diversity Abroad, this year’s recipients have demonstrated a commitment to advancing diversity and inclusive excellence within international education on an individual, institutional, and or organizational level, as well as students who represent Diversity Abroad’s mission to diversify global education. The awards will be presented on April 10, 2018 at the 6th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference, New Realities and Untapped Potential, in Miami, FL where Dillard will accept the award on behalf of LSA.

“The LSA Study Abroad Scholarship makes international learning a reality for students who think it’s out of reach, because of financial concerns,” Dillard said. “The program amplifies students’ classroom learning with hands-on experiences in new cultures and new environments. We’re proud to receive this award in recognition of our program’s transformative impact on students, and the generous donors who make these scholarships possible.

For more details on the 2018 Diversity & Inclusion Award Recipients, click here!

This article was originally published by LSA's Center for Global and Intercultural Study
Photo by Nicole Harrington/Unsplash