Studying abroad may be a priceless experience, but it often comes with a high cost.
“I love traveling but it’s expensive, especially as a student,” says Kari Parmeter, a SPEA Indianapolis public safety management major.
Course costs, plane tickets, lodging, and other expenses can put these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities out of reach for many students. But the SPEA IUPUI International Travel Scholarship can help bridge the financial gap, especially for underrepresented students.
For first-gen students who are already blazing their own trail through higher education, the scholarship allows them another opportunity to see their field of interest through a different lens, gain a deeper understanding of other cultures, and see how their work can extend across borders.
Parmeter received scholarship funding to travel to Israel with SPEA Abroad, focusing on arts management in government regulation, funding, and policy.
“These scholarships allow students to travel to incredible places, gain new knowledge, and earn college credit at the same time,” she says.
Echoing that sentiment is Hannah Martin, a first-generation student who received financial assistance to travel to Germany and Italy.
“A lot of students, including myself, wouldn’t have these opportunities if it weren’t for this funding,” Martin says. “The scholarship took a lot of the stress away. It gave me peace of mind and opened the door for me to pick the course that best fit my future career.”
Without the stress of returning as “a broke college student,” Martin says she could focus on examining cross-sector interactions on an international scale.
“We collaborated with German and Italian students to look at global perspectives on how the public and private sectors work together,” Martin recalls. “We visited well-known businesses that were in the middle of nowhere, yet held up the economy for their area and supported thousands of local jobs.”
SPEA’s study abroad trips provide students with international insight on their future careers. Elias Rebollar, a public management graduate student at SPEA Indianapolis, wanted to learn how other countries handle public safety. As a patrol officer for the Westfield Police Department, Rebollar needed approval before he could go on the month-long trip. He also had to take his family’s financial situation into account. These extra considerations added extra layers of concern for Rebollar.
“It would’ve been so much easier had I done this when I was an undergrad,” he says. “It literally felt like a puzzle where all pieces had to fit just right or it wasn’t going to happen.”
Fortunately, both the Westfield PD and his wife were supportive of the experience. His department even provided funding for the trip so he could bring what he learned back to the department. He says he was thrilled when he found out he would receive additional funding from SPEA, as well.
“Earning the SPEA scholarship was a pretty big deal for me,” he says. “While I would’ve tried my hardest to go on the trip without the assistance, it would’ve caused more financial stress for my family.
“The class truly made the experience worthwhile,” he says. “You hear of study abroad programs that just for the cultural experience of going overseas. While that aspect is important, the coursework involved in this program was exactly what I was wanted for the next stage of my career.”
Rebollar has his sights set on federal law enforcement. He points to his trip—and the SPEA IUPUI International Travel Scholarship—as providing the first step on that path.
“The trip exposed me to what federal or even global law enforcement would really entail,” he says. “I wouldn’t have that knowledge without this trip or the scholarship.”
Martin and Parmeter also picked their programs with an eye to the future.
Parmeter says she felt traveling to the Middle East and experiencing the culture would provide an advantage in her future military career.
Martin, who earned her civic leadership degree in May, knew her experience would lay a solid foundation for her family’s future. Her in-laws founded the Galilean Home, an orphanage and special needs home in Kentucky, which her husband will eventually lead.
“I know if I end up working within the organization, I now have the knowledge to develop the intersection between public and private sector for the home,” she says. “That’s where my degree and learnings from my SPEA Abroad trip will come into play.”
To contribute to a student’s international travel experience, click “Give Now” on the Alumni & Giving section of SPEA Indianapolis’ website and select “SPEA IUPUI International Travel Scholarships” from the drop-down menu.
Without these scholarships, all three first-generation students say they would’ve faced additional financial burdens or may have had to turn down these trips altogether. Rebollar says that’s what alumni should keep in mind when considering potential donations.
“Remember that you’re helping the student first,” he says. “You become successful in life through the help of others. You find opportunities and move ahead because of that help. A donation to this scholarship means you’re helping a young individual who is growing, working hard, and who deserves this opportunity.”