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SIUE’s Smith Earns Scholarship to Study Abroad in Northern Ireland

As a freshman at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Hayley Smith’s attention was captured by an advertisement for an international travel-study in Ireland. However, due to financial restrictions, the Decatur native assumed such a study abroad experience would forever be out of reach.

But now a junior, Smith has proven herself wrong. She is one of five students nationwide to have received a $2,000 INSIGHT Into Diversity Global Engagement Scholarship. The scholarship will support a 16-day study abroad experience in Northern Ireland from May 14-29.

Smith credits Laurie Rice, PhD, professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Political Science, and the SIUE Office of International Affairs, with helping her achieve this award and fulfill her international travel dreams.

 “When the opportunity to take the trip came around again,” Smith explained, “Dr. Rice sent all of the scholarship information to me and even read my scholarship essay draft. She had so much faith in me. I’m grateful for her help. Receiving this scholarship is a dream come true.”

Kim Browning, study abroad advisor in the SIUE Office of International Affairs, also facilitated Smith’s application and encouraged her during the process.

“One of our goals in the Office of International Affairs is to promote participation in study abroad activities across our student population,” Browning said. “Too many students assume they cannot afford to study abroad. Actually, there are many programs which cost no more, or even less, than a semester at SIUE.

“Scholarships like these speak directly to those students, and it’s important to remember that diversity includes many descriptions of identity. Students should inquire if they are not sure if they qualify.”

Smith, who is a double major in political science and philosophy, hopes to uncover how Ireland’s political system differs from America’s.

“Receiving this scholarship makes me feel like I finally get a chance to view the legal system from a new perspective,” Smith said. “After interning at the public defender’s office last year, I became even more curious about how legal systems work around the world.”

Students participating in the trip led by Rice and Sophia Wilson, PhD, assistant professor of political science, will explore themes of nationalism, social mobilization, conflict and terrorism, political communication, international law, and peace and reconciliation. They will also tour the cities of Belfast, Derry, Corrymeela and Dublin.

Created to encourage study abroad and global engagement, the scholarships were awarded by INSIGHT Into Diversity and the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. Preference was given to students who have not traveled or previously studied abroad.

Photo: SIUE junior Hayley Smith, of Decatur, is one of five students nationwide to have received a $2,000 INSIGHT Into Diversity Global Engagement Scholarship.