Wheaton College students can now apply for grants of up to $1,000 to cover travel and living expenses for a summer 2015 internship in an international or cross cultural setting. The internship must be taken in a student’s major or minor.
Dean of global and experiential learning Laura Montgomery announced the initiative in an email on Feb. 24, stating that the pilot program is for the current 2014-2015 academic year only, as the program’s continuance will be determined by the availability of future funding and student demand.
The grants will be funded by the Global and Experiential Learning Office. Last year, GEL did not award two of the grants available under their Global Scholar Award. The GEL advisory council decided to use the money from one of the awards to test out a new grant opportunity focused on supporting students interning internationally.
“The thinking of the advisory council was: We do have some extra funds, why don’t we take at least one award and make that available for next year and see what kind of interest and demand there is?” Montgomery said.
Originally, the Global Scholar Award could be applied to internships, research projects and creative projects. But GEL recently modified the award to clarify it is for research and creative projects only.
“What became clear pretty early on is that those things are so different that it’s very hard to kind of lump them together into one pot,” Montgomery said.
The GEL office tagline is “Changing perspective and not simply location, gaining understanding and not simply collecting experiences.”
“We’re trying to encourage students to … have cross-cultural and international experiences that go beyond just traveling in experience, that really are focused on developing understanding and changing perspective,” Montgomery said.
For this reason, Montgomery said the GEL office promotes semester study abroad because it allows “sustained and meaningful engagement with people of another culture.”
The new pilot program fits into GEL’s mission, Montgomery said, because internships provide the opportunity for these types of experiences — although summer internships are shorter — and because internships hit the academic aspect of globalizing a Wheaton education as outlined in the college’s strategic priorities.
The grant is only available to junior and senior students because of college policy requiring undergraduate students to reach junior status and complete 16 hours in their major before applying for a for-credit internship. Students will also have to meet the specific internship requirements for their major or minor department to be eligible for the grant money.
The grant application is available on the GEL website and must be submitted by 5 p.m. on April 1.
“I really hope that students will take advantage of the opportunity,” Montgomery said. “We hope that students find it helpful and that it is just another way, a small way, of supporting the efforts to globalize their education.”