Valerie Fernandez Gonzalez ’23 is brushing up on her French language skills after being awarded a Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) scholarship. The social work and sociology major will head to Lyon, France this summer after receiving a $2,500 award. Specific donors fund the awards as Gonzalez received a $2,500 Gugel-McPherson Family Scholarship.
“I’m really thankful and excited to work with culturally and linguistically diverse communities as a social worker, Gonzalez said. “I also hope to employ writing as emotional exploration for myself and others.”
The FEA scholarship is a competitive one that offers scholarships to underrepresented students wishing to study abroad. “Gonzalez is one of almost 900 students who won an award including students of color, first-generation college, and community college students,” said Wendy Westphal, Ph.D., director of study abroad, associate professor of German, and Marian’s director of global prestige grants. “What makes this more impressive is she was also selected as a Gilman Scholar earlier this year. The Gilman scholarship also offers undergraduate study abroad opportunities as winning both is rare. We’re so proud of Gonzalez’s accomplishments!”
Mark Latta, Marian’s assistant professor of English, and Laura Avtgis, study abroad coordinator, helped prepare Gonzalez for her scholarship applications by providing feedback surrounding her essays.
“I’m really thankful for the supportive and encouraging professors and mentors I have here at Marian,” Gonzalez said. “They really helped me with my confidence in preparing for my award applications.”
The Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) has increased access to international education by offering 123 flexible scholarships totaling more than $400,000 for study abroad in summer and Fall 2022, and academic year 2022-23 to students traditionally underrepresented in the United States study abroad program. Since 2010, the FEA has awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarships.
"For these FEA Scholars to remain intent on realizing their study abroad goals despite the last two years of interruptions to their educational pathways truly humbles us” said FEA Executive Director Angela Schaffer. “We are grateful to our reviewers and volunteers for their dedication throughout the selection process as we look forward to supporting this amazing cohort of FEA Scholars as they continue to break down barriers in education abroad and beyond.”