Students Spend Summer Living – and Learning – Abroad

Scholarships provide students opportunity to gain experience and perspective
Helene Slinker in Prague

Helene Slinker, a rising senior studying political science, took her first international trip in 2012. The experience was life changing and led to her interest in studying abroad.

“I come from a German-American family and half of my family still lives in Germany,” Slinker says.  “When I went overseas the first time to see them, I realized that I loved traveling and wanted to see more of the world.” 

Travel can be a key component to expanding students’ perspectives and enhancing their understanding of different cultures as well as reinforcing foreign language skills. For some, the cost of studying abroad might be more than they can manage. 

“As a first-generation student, I saw study-abroad trips as something that only rich students could participate in,” Slinker says. “These scholarships completely transformed that perception. I am so grateful for the help of the UMKC International Academic Programs Office, along with various professors who lent a hand to write me letters of recommendation.” 

"To any students at UMKC who have thought about study abroad and shrugged it off, I say this: do it." Helene Slinker

Slinker, who is studying in Prague and the Czech Republic, and seven other students from UMKC, received Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to study abroad for summer 2019. The Gilman Scholarship is a program of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) that encourages students to study and intern in diverse areas of the world. These scholarships represent a total of $24,000 in support of these students who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to study abroad.

“The Gilman scholarships are a great way for us to promote study abroad to students who might not have otherwise taken the leap,” says Kate Wozniak, assistant director for UMKC Study Abroad and Exchange. 

The students, their schools, majors and host countries are:

Danait Berhe, College of Arts and Sciences, sociology, United Kingdom

Jhane Davis, Bloch School of Management, business administration, Costa Rica

Jacob Furry, Conservatory, music education, Denmark

Niesha King, College of Arts and Sciences, psychology, Spain

Henry Ortega-Hernandez, College of Arts and Sciences, criminal justice and criminology, Spain

Brian Ramirez, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, health science and Spanish, Spain

Sarah Schleicher, College of Arts and Sciences, languages and literatures, Costa Rica

Slinker also received the Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grant based on achievement, campus and community service and the opportunity for travel to influence academic and career goals. She is one of 75 students in the nation to receive this grant.

She encourages students to work with Wozniak and her team if they are interested in study abroad —even if it seems daunting.

“Experiencing another culture totally changes your worldview,” she says. “To any students at UMKC who have thought about study abroad but shrugged it off, I say this: do it.”  


For more information visit the office of Study Abroad and Global Engagement.

Follow the 2019 UMKC students abroad at the Roos Abroad blog, on instagram @umkcstudyabroad and #umkcstudyabroadtakeover

Published: Jun 19, 2019

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