Low-income students may be given the chance to study abroad affordably - Purdue Exponent: Campus

Low-income students may be given the chance to study abroad affordably

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Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 10:00 am

Financially-limited students aspiring to travel abroad will have the opportunity to visit Spain this summer as Horizons Student Services celebrates its third year of helping these students study abroad.

The Institute of International Education is spearheading a national initiative, Generation Study Abroad, to double the amount of study abroad participants by the end of the decade. Many universities, including Purdue, seek to increase student participation in an effort to better prepare students for a globalized job market. However, not all students can afford these global ventures.

Purdue’s Horizons program assists students in maintaining and developing academic, social and personal skills to create a better college experience. Since 1978, Purdue’s branch of the federally-funded program has been helping students.

Austin Scherbarth, a junior in the College of Engineering and student ambassador with the Office of the Dean of Students, described the program’s role as a support system for students in need.

”It’s mainly a comfortable zone for students that are in that particular situation to go to and receive help and assistance with pretty much anything on campus,” Scherbarth said. “It’s not really restricted to (academics).”

Horizons’ latest efforts, however, involve helping low-income, first-generation college students learn about the benefits of studying abroad and provide assistance in achieving this opportunity.

Last year, the program sponsored its second study abroad program in Costa Rica, the first being South Africa in 2012. According to Rosa Acevedo Villarreal, associate dean of students and Horizons director, the program aspires to not only inform students about current study abroad opportunities, benefits and scholarships, but also increase the confidence of these first-generation college students of their ability to successfully study abroad to combat the low participation rates.

”In the 2012 study abroad excursion to South Africa, student confidence levels were measured through pre and post evaluations,” said Acevedo Villarreal. “(They) ultimately revealed that 100 percent of participants increased in confidence in the following areas: navigating through unfamiliar environments, cross-cultural communication, knowledge of their discipline in a global context, ability to perform a job in a global context and ability to make a difference in the world, among others.”

This summer, the Horizons program will be focusing on global leadership by sponsoring a trip to Valencia, Spain. This will be the third consecutive year Horizons has received subsidized funding to support students in their academic trips.

More information can be found about Horizons at purdue.edu/horizons.

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