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Students awarded chance to study abroad

Jan. 20, 2010

By Neely Guthrie

Two Baylor students have been awarded a scholarship to study abroad for a year in a country of their choice.

Graduate student Wayne Joseph and recent Baylor graduate Robert Kent were notified in December that they had been awarded the $25,000 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to help cover tuition, travel costs and accommodations.

"It's pretty extraordinary for two students from the Waco Rotary Club to have won at the district level," Elizabeth Vardaman, associate dean of special academic projects, said.

The scholarship selection process begins with the local Rotary club and is narrowed during four subsequent rounds.

According to its Web site, the scholarship was founded in 1947 and is the Rotary Foundation's best-known program, providing students the opportunity to learn about the culture of the host country.

Upon returning to the states, students give presentations to their local Rotary Club to further increase international understanding of the host country.

Kent, a University Scholar from Dallas, will be traveling to Glasgow, Scotland, next fall to study economic development.

"I'm excited to dig into the local culture and have the opportunity to spend a whole year in the country," Kent said.

He is also looking forward to exploring the similarities and differences between American life and Scottish life.

Kent has participated in multiple Baylor study abroad programs, including Baylor in Maastricht and Baylor in Oxford.

He hopes to apply his studies and experiences from the year abroad to a future career of possibly working in low-income countries concerning renewable energy sources.

"Maybe one day, about 15 years down the road, I'll set up my own non-profit organization to better people's lives," he said.

Joseph, a graduate student from Trinidad, will be studying for his second Master's Degree in Global Health, International Health, or Pan-American Health Policy at the Australian National University in Canberra beginning in February 2011.

"To me it [the scholarship] means going there to say that my culture, as diverse as that may be...needs to be presented to them and they need to know that we do care as different nations," he said.

Gigi Bryant, chair of the 2009 ambassadorial committee, encourages more students to apply for the scholarship, and feels many do not apply because they simply haven't heard of it.

"Most who apply are very community-oriented and very passionate about public service," she said.

For the 2011-2012 award year, local Rotary Club deadlines can vary from March 2010 until August 2010. For students interested in applying, there will be an informal workshop on Jan. 28 in Burleson 110.

Vardaman said she would be available to speak with students who are interested in knowing more about rotary. Students are not required to go through any campus representatives, and can apply through the local Waco club or the club in their hometown.

"Even if students are not ultimately selected, it's a wonderful opportunity to meet leaders in the community and practice skills of speaking and interviewing," Vardaman said.