When she first came to Indiana University, Shayauna Brewer did not expect to study abroad. As a first-generation college student from Plainfield, Ind., Brewer felt lucky enough to make it to college at all, let alone have the opportunity to study on another continent. However, that all changed when she discovered opportunities at IU, including through the Overseas Studies and Scholarship Program, that made her study abroad dreams possible.
“I am a first-generation college student, and that was a struggle itself. So actually studying abroad was maybe a dream or a hope, but I never even considered that it was possible for me to do that,” Brewer said. “Then I ran into this program which was targeting students like me and made it possible for me to study abroad.”
Today, as a senior studying criminal justice, Brewer prepares to graduate from IU Bloomington. She has studied abroad in Ghana on a trip through the Overseas Studies and Scholarship Program, a program supported by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA). Since studying abroad, Brewer became an assistant with the program to help other students achieve their study abroad dreams. Following her graduation, she will join Teach for America to teach in South Carolina, in a continuation of her passion for education she found through studying abroad.
Brewer credits several IU experiences with contributions to her passion for education. In addition to seeing the importance of education by studying prison reform through her criminal justice degree, Brewer also experienced it firsthand while abroad in Ghana.
“Seeing how they’re trying to better the education system there motivated and empowered me to bring what I saw in Ghana and transform it here, in our own education system,” Brewer said.
Brewer is not alone in attributing studying abroad to her success. Marqui Glinsey, a graduating senior from Hammond, Ind., studying sociology and African American and African Diaspora Studies, also benefited from her involvement in study abroad experiences. When she studied abroad for a semester in Barcelona, Spain, Glinsey faced a shortfall of funding to cover the cost of her study abroad program, leaving her with a significant financial barrier to graduation. After contacting Ochmaa Escue, director of the Overseas Studies and Scholarship Program, Glinsey applied for an OVPDEMA scholarship that helped her cover the remaining costs.
Today, Glinsey prepares to graduate and join the Peace Corps, where she will teach English and help with community development projects in Namibia. According to Glinsey, her study abroad experience was foundational in developing her appreciation for intercultural exchange--an appreciation that has led her to explore other countries and cultures through service in the Peace Corps.
“Without the study abroad program, or the scholarship I received, I wouldn’t have been able to get that different perspective,” Glinsey said.
Reflecting on her experiences, Glinsey said that studying abroad played a foundational impact on her future--an impact she hoped other students would experience by studying abroad.
“It really fueled a passion and enjoyment of continuing to travel. If I got this experience from one country, I can only imagine how many different experiences and perspectives I can learn from others,” Glinsey said.
Escue said that both Glinsey’s and Brewer’s stories are representative of the transformational power of intercultural education, a central component of which is studying abroad.
“We talk about the intercultural competency, and the importance of students being able to learn about different cultures and adapt to them,” Escue said. “These two students are taking a big step to pursue those goals.”