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University of Dayton Scholarship Recipients Reflect on Experiences in Ecuador

“Truly humbling.”

This is how University of Dayton (UD) Environmental Biology student Kelly Hines describes living in Ecuador for the first time. Kelly and her sister Abby Hines, both UD students, went to the South American country in 2018, thanks in part to the Tobias International Leadership Scholar Program, a study abroad scholarship at UD.

The Tobias International Leadership Scholar Program is a donor funded scholarship unique to the University of Dayton that provides experiences, mentorship, and networks for female leaders from Indiana interested in studying abroad. Created by Deborah Flanagan Tobias, the program gives women leaders the opportunity to make the most out of their education abroad by providing a framework for them to reflect on their experiences and develop leadership skills through them.

Students in the Tobias scholar program travel abroad for an educational experience, such as an experiential learning trip, or a study abroad. A mentor who has leadership exposure and global experience works with the Tobias Scholar throughout the program; this mentor provides the student with insights on how to leverage their experience abroad to advance their leadership goals. At the end of the program, Tobias Scholars are provided the opportunity to pay it forward by mentoring a future study abroad student.

As Tobias Scholars, Kelly and Abby traveled to Ecuador in January 2018, and had the opportunity to experience the Ecuadorian culture and environment firsthand with their University of Dayton cohorts. During their trip, the sisters were prompted to challenge their own biases, get outside of their comfort zones, and forge connections with people they met in Ecuador. For Abby and Kelly, this experience was paramount in developing global awareness.

“I cannot emphasize enough the value of perspective, walking away from this experience,” says Abby. For Abby, an English major at UD, traveling to Ecuador as a Tobias Scholar has helped her become more conscientious. Motivated by her experience in Ecuador, she is currently spending her spring semester studying abroad in France.

“Although prior to my time in Ecuador I felt knowledgeable of my own privilege and the need to seek the perspectives of others, this experience reiterated further the profound need to hear the voices of all people and dignify them with legitimacy,” says Abby, reflecting on her time in Ecuador. “I find it incredibly important to seize every opportunity to learn, and to grow, and move with solidarity and understanding.”

Kelly says that the financial and structural support of scholarships like the Tobias scholars program have enabled her to become more active in both the UD community and as a global citizen. She returned to South America for 11 weeks during the summer of 2018, and has had the opportunity to speak about her time abroad at several on-campus events at UD. She also says that the perspective she gained traveling abroad has benefitted her daily life.

“My experiences abroad have made me a more conscious individual on campus, both of my opportunities and of my responsibilities. I have found these experiences to have been personally, positively impactful in how I consider the fulfillment and meaningfulness of my future career and everyday activities.”

UD students who are women from Indiana can apply for the Tobias International Leadership Scholar Program by going to the University of Dayton Studio Abroad website. The application deadline for spring or winter abroad is October 1, 2019.
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