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Donor support helps broaden students’ horizons.
By David Stotzer
Students are one of the primary reasons that friends and alumni support the University of Wyoming. And there are few things as fulfilling as knowing that your gift has given a student the opportunity to study abroad or an international student the opportunity to come to UW.
The university is home to the largest endowment for education-abroad funding of any land-grant public institution, thanks to the Richard B. and Lynne V. Cheney Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment. Moreover, there are many other scholarships, awards and grants that have given countless students the chance to study abroad during their time at UW. The following inspirational stories are just a sampling of the impact that donors have had on UW students.
Katie Johnson of Casper, Wyo., is no stranger to studying abroad. As an international studies and philosophy major, she has traveled to Iceland, South America and the Middle East to pursue her degrees. It was her first-year seminar trip to Iceland that kicked off her love for international studies and gave her the confidence to travel.
This past spring, Johnson spent the semester studying abroad in Ecuador. During her time there, she ended up visiting Peru and trekking to Machu Picchu — by herself.
“I think it’s really important to make a journey out of traveling, instead of just being a tourist,” she says. “If I didn’t have that confidence, I never would have taken that risk.”
Scholarships such as the Honors Program Scholarship, the UniWyo Credit Union Study Abroad Scholarship, and the Dick and Lynne Cheney Study-Abroad Faculty-Directed Grants were also an important factor in Johnson’s experience.
“It’s a super unique opportunity being at a university where you can travel abroad almost for free,” she says. “There’s no way I would have been able to do all of those trips without receiving scholarships.”
She encourages students who are considering traveling abroad to take that bold first step, no matter how scary it may seem.
Music is life for Daniela Garzón. Growing up in Bogotá, Columbia, she spent her time singing, dancing and playing various instruments, including clarinet and bassoon. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in bassoon performance.
In August 2021, Garzón moved to Laramie to pursue a master’s degree in bassoon performance.
The most surprising part about UW — aside from the Wyoming winter — was how friendly everyone is. “The music world is normally so cutthroat, but that’s not so here,” she says. “I love that. I feel so free, and I feel more comfortable and confident because everyone is so nice.”
Garzón is the recipient of several scholarships, including the Music Talent Award and the UW International Scholarship.
She encourages everyone to study abroad if the opportunity arises, saying, “If you don’t have money, it is so hard. But the scholarships make it possible.”
During the spring semester, Josh Gaither of Casper, Wyo., spent six months studying abroad in Strasbourg, France. His classes in the Certificate of European Studies Program explored the formation of modern European politics, which is right up his alley as a double major in history and political science.
Gaither also earned several scholarships, including the Richard B. and Lynne V. Cheney Study Abroad Scholarship Fund and the Jade Walsh Fellowship for Russian and International Studies, which ended up covering a substantial portion of his expenses.
But the most impactful part of his time abroad was the relationships he made.
“I made a lot of lifelong friendships, and the community that was built there for the international students was really well done,” he says.
In all, Gaither visited 15 countries while abroad, which gave him the opportunity to explore many famous historical sites.
“Studying abroad is something you’ll have with you for the rest of your life,” he says. “And scholarships give students the opportunity to do stuff like this, so don’t let money stand in the way.”
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