Doane students receive prestigious awards to study abroad

Doane students Jake Sanner, Liz Kurtz, and Rachel Schartz

Three Doane students have received prestigious awards to study or work abroad beginning this summer, continuing a strong tradition at Doane of placing students in international studies programs.

 

Liz Kurtz ’18 has been awarded a Fulbright grant, Rachel Schartz ’18 has been accepted into the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program, and Jake Sanner ‘19 has received a Gilman Scholarship to study in Costa Rica.

 

The Fulbright Scholar Program is an American scholarship program of competitive, merit-based grants, offering research, study, and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to teach and study abroad.

 

This year Doane had eight students apply for a Fulbright grant and five advanced to the semifinal round. Liz earning a Fulbright continues a streak of a Doane student awarded a Fulbright every year since 2005. In that time, 22 students have received a Fulbright award.

 

Liz studied abroad in Heidelberg, Germany last fall and will return to Germany in the Fulbright program -- this time she will be near Frankfurt. As a Fulbright ETA (English Teaching Assistant), Liz will be teaching students in the 2018-19 academic year, although she is unsure at what grade level she will teach. Liz will leave for Germany in September and is very excited for the opportunity.

 

“When I first found out I was awarded a grant, I was so shocked I didn’t know what to do with myself,” she said. “It means a lot to me to be able to continue Doane’s tradition of placing students in the Fulbright program. I feel very honored to have been selected.”

 

Kristen Hetrick, Doane’s national fellowships advisor, works with Doane students interested in earning a grant to study abroad. “So much about these experiences are beneficial for their future,” she says.

 

Liz says that without Kristen’s help and support through the application process, she doesn’t believe she would have been accepted into the program.

 

“Kristen made me the perfect applicant,” Liz said. “She has been so amazing to work with.”

 

“Doane’s success in the Fulbright program says a lot about the strength of our students who are applying and a lot about the preparation provided by the faculty members in their areas of study,” Hetrick said. “This is something Doane should be proud of. I would put our students up against anybody’s students.”

 

Rachel becomes the second Doane student to be accepted into the JET program in the last three years. Delta Wilson ’16 also took part in the JET program, and her positive experience helped influence Rachel's decision to apply.

 

“Hearing Delta’s experience made me really excited,” she said. “I’m really excited to learn a lot in a new culture. I like traveling and getting out of my comfort zone.”

 

Rachel became interested in potentially teaching in Japan after she was a mentor for Adventure Zone, an annual event hosted by Doane where Japanese students from Senshu University Junior High School and High School come to Doane during the summer as an opportunity for the Japanese students to learn more about the American culture.

 

“It was spending a week with those Japanese students that made me really interested in teaching somewhere else outside Nebraska or the U.S.,” Rachel said. “The assistant principal of SenMatsu told me about the JET program and encouraged me to apply. He ended up being a reference for my application as well.”

 

Hetrick says that being accepted into the JET program is equally impressive as receiving a Fulbright ETA, noting they are equally competitive and prestigious. Rachel will receive a salary as a teacher through the program and her flights to and from Japan will be paid for.

 

Another Doane student who received a grant to study abroad is Jake Sanner ’19, who was recently awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The Gilman Scholarship program is a grant program funded by the U.S. government that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad.

 

Jake is a junior environmental studies major at Doane who will be studying in Costa Rica from July 5-August 11. He says he will be taking a Spanish course as well as a course titled “Environmental Awareness and Sustainable Development,” a course that will allow him to learn how Costa Rica became one of the world leaders in sustainable development.

 

“When I found out I was awarded a Gilman scholarship, I felt like I had just won the lottery,” he said. “Receiving this award was essential for me to be able to afford to study abroad and it is a great honor to be a recipient.”

 

This experience could pay dividends for Jake after he graduates, as he says he hopes to pursue a master’s degree and enter an environmental field to develop sustainable infrastructure. “I plan on drawing inspiration from the knowledge I gain in Costa Rica and implement those ideas into my future work,” he said.

 

Jake added, “I’m grateful to attend a university that makes opportunities like these available for all students.”

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