Friday, November 24, 2017

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SDSU student Zackary Albrecht studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain, thanks in large part to the SDSU Associated Students Study Abroad Scholarship. SDSU student Zackary Albrecht studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain, thanks in large part to the SDSU Associated Students Study Abroad Scholarship.
 


Students Help Peers Explore the World

The SDSU Associated Students Study Abroad Scholarship helps students cover costs associated with studying abroad.
By Michael Klitzing
 

“Helping students broaden their horizons and gain international knowledge and experience is really important.”

Journalism senior Zackary Albrecht has always paid his own way at San Diego State University. He has taken out loans and held down jobs—two at a time generally. Given his situation, you might imagine world travel would be out of the question.

Yet there he was on the Spanish Mediterranean coast last winter break, studying communication and soaking in the culture and lifestyle of Catalonia.

“It was life changing,” said Albrecht, who participated in the College of Extended Studies faculty-led program Collaborate, Facilitate, Conciliate in Barcelona. “No longer was it someone telling me what life outside the U.S. was like; it was me actually seeing it.”

Without support provided by the SDSU Associated Students (A.S.) Study Abroad Scholarship, seeing Barcelona would have been a whole lot harder. Albrecht received a $700 award, covering more than 20 percent of the cost of his program. Combined with other scholarships, he was able to cover 90 percent of the cost of his entire trip.

“Without scholarships, I may have had to drop my minor because I couldn’t have fulfilled the study abroad requirement,” said Albrecht, who is an interdisciplinary studies minor in the Weber Honors College. “But getting that financial backing made it so I really didn’t even have to consider that.”

The will of the students

In a way, Albrecht’s ticket to Barcelona was partially punched in spring 2008, when SDSU students voted on a referendum to increase the Student Activity Fee by $20 fee to fund multiple initiatives, including a study abroad scholarship. It passed, and in the fall of that year, more than $60,000 in scholarships was awarded to 83 applicants.

Since then, A.S. has awarded about $3 million to 4,000 students, including awards of more than $420,000 to 630 students last year. To business marketing senior and A.S. president Chimezie Ebiriekwe, that sounds like success.

“Helping students broaden their horizons and gain international knowledge and experience is very important,” Ebiriekwe said. “Any way Associated Students can help support them is good. We should lend a helping hand to every student possible.”

Indeed, the A.S. scholarship is inclusive. It is open to all majors as well as both graduate and undergraduate students. Last year, more than 80 percent of the students who applied for the scholarship received it.

Peer recognition

Another unique feature of the A.S. Study Abroad Scholarship is the fact that students select the recipients. Application essays are divided up for review among the 55 student leaders who make up the three main A.S. councils and board of directors. Each essay is reviewed by three students.

“It’s a totally anonymous process; the reviewers don’t know any applicant’s identifying factors,” said Jennifer Esquivel-Parker, A.S. assistant director of government affairs and programs. “The decision is based strictly off the essay and the applicant’s description of how studying abroad will impact them.”

And as students like Albrecht can attest, simply being chosen for the scholarship can have an impact all its own.

“San Diego State University has taught me that if you fight for what you believe in and value it, you can find the money,” Albrecht said. “You can find the loans, you can find the scholarships, you can find the ability to study abroad.”