Study abroad programs have traditionally offered students opportunities for personal growth, academic enrichment and a deeper understanding of the world. However, the path to studying abroad can be filled with obstacles for students from underrepresented backgrounds.
Underserved students often face unique challenges when thinking about studying abroad. Financial constraints, familial responsibilities or a limited access to resources and services can deter them from pursuing these opportunities.
“I think it is very important for students and families to understand that we are here to help break down the barriers,” said Kristin Beavers, director of global education at Chapman University’s Center for Global Education (CGE). “We have developed plans for helping all of our underserved students to ensure they have access to resources and support that will allow them to travel abroad.”
This year, 703 Chapman University students studied abroad following a two-year lull during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a great number for a university of our size,” said Beavers. “The number of students traveling abroad this year was comparable to the number of students we have sent in previous years. What you’ll see is that the composition of students sent abroad closely reflects the diversity of the university as a whole.”
Through initiatives such as the Chapman Promising Futures Program, Gilman Scholarship Program, Diverse International Women of Color Study Abroad Scholarship and more, Chapman provides tailored support, mentorship and financial assistance to underserved students aspiring to study abroad.
“We also have resources available because of who we have as staff,” said Beavers. “For example, Daniel Garcia, the CGE’s assistant director of global education, does a great job explaining the travel abroad process to Spanish-speaking parents. We also work very closely with disability services to make accommodations for our students with disabilities while they’re abroad.”
Angelique Acuna ‘22, a first-generation student whose journey led her from participating in the study abroad program to becoming an integral part of CGE as an administrative assistant upon graduating, recalled the importance of Chapman’s Promising Futures Program during her study abroad experience.
“The Promising Futures Program provided invaluable support throughout my application process,” said Acuna. “Through that program, I received funding to help pay for my plane ticket to Paris. I encourage all our students to use the resources available to them.”
Acuna’s journeys abroad empowered her to shape the study abroad experience for future students.
“When I applied to work at the CGE as a student peer advisor during my senior year, I wanted to help students like me who were scared to ask for help,” said Acuna. “I ultimately wanted to create a safe space for students and let them know we were here to help.”
For more information on Chapman University’s Center for Global Education, visit https://www.chapman.edu/international-studies/center-for-global-education/index.aspx.