A new initiative at Temple is inviting students with the highest grade point averages and greatest financial need to apply for a scholarship in order to study abroad.
Developed in the last year, the Diamond Ambassadors Program was quickly approved because of President Ann Weaver Hart’s and Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico’s commitment and interest in globalization at Temple, said Dr. Peter R. Jones, the vice provost for Undergraduate Studies.
So far, 40 students from last year’s freshman class have been chosen and accepted for a $2,500 scholarship. Recently, more invitations were sent out in the hope to ultimately grant 50 students from the Class of 2010 this award, Jones said.
Students are measured on a 100-point scale for eligibility in all of the colleges at Temple. Fifty points are allocated to the student’s overall GPA, and the other half are allocated to their financial need based upon their estimated family contribution from financial services.
A student with a 4.0 and a zero EFC would rate at 100. Jones estimates that most who are invited to participate have 90 or more points.
Jones said the program tries to help students who really can’t contemplate studying abroad but have shown tremendous academic achievement and potential.
“We want the world to see a different type of Temple student, and we want these students to be ambassadors for this university,” Jones said.
The significant investment of $125,000 per year comes from the provost’s budget. Ultimately, Temple hopes to increase the percentage of students who study abroad as this university falls short of the national average, Jones said.
In conjunction with Hart’s fund with her husband that offers to pay for the passport of first-time buyers, this program is an example of Temple working toward raising the number of students who study abroad, Jones said.
“The thing about Temple is ‘Access to Excellence,’ and that’s what we want to do –continue that access on a global stage, not just a local stage,” Jones said.
Tara Miller, a sophomore tourism and hospitality major, was awarded the scholarship and is planning on traveling to Australia from June 22 to Aug. 4. Students awarded the scholarship are allowed to use their scholarship at any time during their academic career. She is one of the first to use her award and said she is extremely excited about the opportunity.
“Temple teaches from a global perspective; however, I’m excited to travel and study abroad in order to have a hands on experience,” Miller said.
“Temple teaches a global education, but I’m excited to travel abroad, study and get the global perspective hands-on,” Miller said.
The application process includes getting one letter of reference and an essay which states why you want to study abroad and what educational and lifelong goals this will help you reach, Miller said. The applicants must then see an adviser to make sure the trip would not slow down their academic career.
This program is just being offered to freshmen because they have the greatest possibility of being able to work this into their academic schedule, Jones said. The Diamond Ambassadors Program will be offering students these grants on a long-term agenda.
“It’s really exciting to think that there are 50 current freshman who are earning themselves really high GPAs, but think that there’s never a chance that they are going to go abroad, who are going to get a letter sometime in May or June saying, ‘If you’d like to study abroad, Temple is going to give you a scholarship,’” Jones said.
On average, about one in every five students that were invited are applying, Jones said.. Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Duane H. Smith said it is still unclear why students aren’t embracing this opportunity, but emphasized that it always takes a couple of years for a program to run at it’s greatest potential. If the provost finds that the money offered is an inadequate amount, Jones said they will reevaluate the financial gift and lower the number of students who receive it.
Jones said students who decline the invitation are asked to meet with the dean of their college, an adviser or a faculty member to help them in their decision. He said he believes that once the 50 students are chosen, those who chose not to go will be written to in effort to figure out why they declined.
In the future, to help students who are unsure, those that did go on the trips will be mentors to aid others in the decision process. Students who have gone will also be asked to speak at one of the International Programs information sessions about their experiences. Eventually, on the provost Web site, there will also be a link to reflective essays or journals describing the trips.
Miller recommends taking advantage of this offer, saying there is no better opportunity for students.
“I think the program is wonderful. It’s encouraging that they are offering this scholarship for Temple students to study abroad since a lot of students usually wouldn’t think of studying abroad because of financial costs,” Miller said.
“I think the program is magnificent. It is so encouraging that they are offering this for Temple students to study abroad when a lot of students don’t think of study abroad because of their financial situation,” Miller said.
“Part of your educational experience at Temple is not just what you learn in the classroom, it’s the social and cultural environment that’s happening around you,” Jones said. “And you’re going to develop personally by engaging in all that’s available to you on this campus, and the same is true abroad.”
Sarah Fry can be reached at email@example.com.