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Scholarships totalling $130,000 awarded to UCLA students to study abroadBreanna Mroczko is one of several UCLA students who recently received study abroad scholarship funding.

Scholarships totalling $130,000 awarded to UCLA students to study abroad

Thirty-five UCLA students receive scholarship funding to study abroad during the 2011-2012 school year.

By Joan Springhetti

UCLA students with interests as diverse as their destinations in Turkey and Thailand, South Africa and Spain, Chile and China are winners of scholarships to support their study abroad.  

A student in UCLA’s Russian Flagship Program received a $20,000 scholarship for her studies in St. Petersburg, a student majoring in Chinese was awarded $10,000 toward her studies in Beijing, another student received $10,000 to study Arabic in Morocco. 

They are among more than 35 UCLA students awarded $130,000 in scholarships for study abroad last summer and for the 2011-2012 school year. Those most successful in winning scholarships say that persistence and focus were key—and learning a strategic language helped too.  Application deadlines for most scholarships are in January and February with applications for study abroad programs due on a rolling basis beginning in fall quarter.

Alyssa Haerle, 22, who grew up in Green Valley, is spending a full year in St Petersburg.  She was awarded the $20,000 Boren Scholarship, funded by the government’s National Security Education Program.  She is researching how the tech-city of Skolkovo — the Russian version of the Silicon Valley — can potentially influence the country’s relations with the West, economically and politically. In 2010, she spent the summer in Moscow as part of another study abroad program, and analyzed the social media use of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Her advice for other scholarship seekers: If you study a strategic language, there seems to be more funding. And, doing research as part of your experience abroad “is absolutely key.”

Sonya Ercout, 19, of Irvine won the maximum Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship of $8,000, as well as $2,000 from SIT Study Abroad.  The anthropology major spent the summer studying Arabic in Rabat, Morocco.  Ercout,  a senior, plans to pursue a master’s in public heath. Her goals include learning multiple languages. In addition to Arabic, she already has a good start on Chinese, Spanish and French.  Her advice to scholarship seekers:  “Don’t give up even if it seems last minute. The night I was working on my application, I was almost not going to turn it in.”

Another UCLA student, Oliver Kay, also received the maximum Gilman award of $8,000:  He is currently studying in Jordan.

The competitive Gilman scholarships, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, support undergraduate students who might not otherwise have the resources to study abroad.

Fifth-year student Breanna Mroczko, 23, of Palmdale, won two $5,000 scholarships:  one from Gilman and the other from the privately funded, newly-established Fund for Education Abroad. A senior with a major in Chinese, Mroczko is spending the year as an exchange student with Peking University. 

Her interest in Chinese culture and language was solidified in the summer of 2008 when she taught English as a volunteer at a camp for children in China.  After she completes her studies she would like to work with a nonprofit or other non-government organization with U.S.-China connections.  Her advice to other scholarship seekers:  Apply for everything because you never know what might come through.

Other scholarships won by UCLA students include these first-ever awards:

--The Terry and Suzan Kramer Global Leadership Scholars program, established with a gift of $100,000, made its first awards to students in Summer Travel Study and the Education Abroad Program. Eight awards of $2,000 each are supporting UCLA students studying in Spain, Italy, France, China, Puerto Rico, India and Hong Kong.

--The Jorge Paulo Lemann Scholarship and Fellowship Fund awarded eight scholarships of $2,000 to $4,000 to UCLA students. The fund, established with a $500,000 grant, supports the study of UCLA students in Brazil, and vice versa. This year’s students are based in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador da Bahia.

--The UCLA Confucius Institute Scholarship Fund, designed to support study in China, made six $1,000 awards to students at UCLA and other UC campuses. All studied at Shanghai Jiao Tong University last summer.

UCLA International Institute