Texas Tech University

Study Abroad Competitive Scholarship Helps Students Begin International Journey

McKenzi Morris

October 31, 2019

Office of International Affairs

Each year, the Study Abroad office awards more than $300,000 through the scholarship program.

Studying abroad is a dream for many students, but some are hesitant to start their journey because of the cost. There is a perception that less funding is available for students to study internationally and the cost is significantly more than what it would be to stay in Lubbock. However, that's not always the case.

The Texas Tech University Office of International Affairs (OIA) and Study Abroad program do everything they can to make students' international experience cost as little as possible, primarily through the Study Abroad Competitive Scholarship (SACS).

Each year, more than $300,000 is distributed to students studying abroad, no matter the destination, program or term. The SACS is awarded based on financial need and academic merit, and students applying must submit an essay, official transcript and recommendations. The applications are reviewed by a committee of Texas Tech faculty, staff and students who are invested in study abroad programs and initiatives. For the upcoming spring semester, 73 students received a SACS.

Mildred Chikumbindi, a junior global studies major from Wylie, will spend the spring 2020 semester studying French in Cannes, France, thanks in part to the SACS. While there, her classes will focus on the French language and culture.

Going abroad will push her out of her comfort zone, Chikumbindi said, but it will be a rewarding experience she carries with her for the rest of her life.

"When I made the decision to study abroad, one of my biggest fears was the financial burden it would place on me and my family," Chikumbindi said. "But receiving this scholarship has truly relieved so many of my fears and made my dream of studying abroad possible."

Funding through the SACS is not just about helping Texas Tech students learn internationally. It also is available to international degree-seeking students who are studying abroad at Texas Tech.

Nadeesha Jayaweera, an international graduate student, came to Lubbock to work toward a doctoral degree in mathematics and was funded in part by the SACS. While working toward her degree, she is a graduate part-time instructor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics. Her goal is to one day become a professor, and receiving the SACS is helping her make that dream a reality.

"I am one step closer to achieving my goals," Jayaweera said. "This award is very meaningful, not only financially, but emotionally as well. It has strengthened my belief in myself."

For some students, the SACS has allowed them to experience a wide range of international cultures through multiple study-abroad programs. Taylor Keeler, a senior global studies major from The Colony, first went abroad to the TTU Center in Sevilla during the spring 2018 semester to study Spanish, which is now her minor. After a summer back in the U.S., she now is spending the academic year in Berlin at Freie Universitat.

"After that initial semester, I was hooked," Keeler said. "The day I stepped off the plane back in Texas, I was ready to plan my next adventure. While in Sevilla, I was more engaged in my classes and more involved in clubs at school. I spent a great amount of my time talking about my life abroad and encouraging my friends to go, too."

With the help of the SACS, she is learning a new language by practicing with locals and studying the history of a country where it actually took place. She said the opportunities and experiences she's having abroad are priceless, and she's grateful to Texas Tech, the OIA and the SACS for helping make them happen.

"I love all my new friends here," Keeler said. "Getting the opportunity to learn under such a diverse faculty and being able to apply my learning hands-on while abroad has been amazing."

Applications are being accepted for the summer and fall 2020 SACS. For more information about the scholarship and how to apply, visit the Study Abroad website.