Third Annual International Education Essay Contest Winner Receives All-Expenses Paid Trip with Study Abroad
Behavioral Science Advisor Tara Ivie has won UVU’s Third Annual International Education Essay Contest. Runner-up is Marilyn Riddle, academic advisor for Aviation Science. The winner receives an opportunity to travel with one of UVU’s International Study Programs.
For this year’s contest, full-time UVU advisors composed essays in response to the question, “In what ways will I, as a UVU advisor, help students overcome hurdles (emotional, academic, financial, etc.) and transform their dream to participate in an international education experience into a reality?” Essays were judged anonymously. The goals of the contest were to encourage advisors to assist students in exploring the international education opportunities offered by UVU and to give one advisor an amazing international education experience.
In her essay, Ivie recalled the process of helping one of her students overcome hurdles in order to achieve a personal goal of participating in an international education experience. Ivie receives an all-expenses-paid experience with a UVU International Study Program. She has chosen the Middle East: Peace and Justice Studies program, which travels to Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank this May.
“In what ways will I, as a UVU advisor, help students overcome hurdles (emotional, academic, financial, etc.) and transform their dream to participate in an international education experience into a reality?”
Maria chose to watch her last sunset in Fiji from the beach. Wind swept up the salt water and blew it onto her face and arms. Maria pulled her legs tight to her chest and took in one more breath of the sweet, humid air. She noticed that the seawater was as warm as the tears on her cheeks. As the pinks in the sky turned to blues, Maria walked back to her village. Tomorrow she would begin her long journey home. This was the first time in a long time that Maria cried tears of joy, not sorrow. Fiji had somehow changed her…transformed her. It was the beginning of a new chapter in Maria’s life; after Fiji she could never be the same.
Rarely in life does one have a transformative experience—something so new, so different that it changes the way you view yourself and the world. International education is one of the greatest transformative experiences a UVU student can take part in. Financial burdens and lack of emotional support created significant barriers to Maria’s progress in school. After an experience that could be described as nothing short of tragic, Maria had been cut off from her family. For years she was told that she was not smart enough to go to college. Once she was on her own, Maria decided to make an attempt at UVU. During her first few semesters, Maria struggled academically; she came to meet with me to discuss her options. A picture on her notebook started our discussion about Fiji. It was the visual reminder of her dream trip, a place she hoped to travel to “someday.” During our advising sessions, I worked with Maria to identify a support network on and off campus, including the Women’s Success Center and Student Health Center. By communicating her goals with trusted friends, she found emotional support in her personal life. Because finances were a major issue, Maria and I worked with several departments on campus to pursue scholarships and grant money, minimizing the cost of the trip. In addition, identifying how the credit she earned could be used toward her degree allowed Maria to make her dream a reality.
Because of Maria’s hard work and the resources available to her through UVU and her community, she was able to live and learn in Fiji! When Maria returned she was a changed person; her burdens seemingly washed away in the South Pacific. It was one of the greatest transformations I have seen in my students.