West Virginia University’s Office of International Programs awarded a total of $12,251 in Global Education Opportunity grants to 16 study abroad students from six different colleges or schools this past spring semester. The 16 recipients, 13 of which are West Virginians, arranged to study or do research in 10 different countries. Eight are undergraduate students and eight are graduate students. The GEO grant program has provided international travel awards to 195 WVU students since it began in 1992.

The Office of International Programs is accepting applications for Global Education Opportunity grants for students seeking support to study abroad in the current academic year. The deadline is Oct. 15.

“The GEO selection committee is hoping that, by offering the grants twice a year, more students will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity,” said the GEO grant program coordinator Rebecca McDaniel. “This grant program broadens students’ college experience by helping them learn outside of the traditional classroom setting.”

Study abroad destinations are Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Russia, Morocco, and West Africa. The students’ projects range from the study of biology and international issues to marketing and ceramic research.

The GEO awards are supported by endowments to the university. These include the Carter and Carolyn Jones Endowment, the Ralph and Dora Nelson International Study Travel Endowment, and the W. Gerald and Carolyn E. Blaney Endowment. The endowments contribute to the awards’ long-term success. The purpose is to help students pay for study abroad living expenses and airfare. Supplemental funds are provided by WVU International Programs.

“The importance of support made by these three generous donors is significant,” said Dr. Michael Lastinger, associate provost for international academic affairs. “The funds will have a direct impact on our students and on many others over the years to come.”

Most undergraduate students study in one of WVU’s 38 Exchange Programs for a semester or a year-long study program; some students go through a WVU-affiliated international education provider. Graduate students are involved in research or training activities. Award amounts typically range from $250 to $1,000 each, proportional to the project’s length and a student’s financial need.

“The international projects our students are pursuing will provide them with a set of essential skills and knowledge that will make them better, more productive citizens of the world,” Lastinger said. “We want students to take every opportunity that WVU has to offer when it comes to studying abroad. The GEO grant program helps open the eyes of students, their peers and families.”

The GEO judging committee included International Programs’ McDaniel and six faculty members: Mary Elizabeth Schultz, Sven Verlinden, Mike Vercelli, Lisa DeFrank-Cole, Joy Saab and Leonel Medellin.

The GEO student winners represented six WVU Colleges. These were the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences (ECAS), seven students; the College of Business and Economics (B&E), two; the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources (CEMR), two; the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design (DCANR&A), one; the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism (PRSJ), one; and the College of Creative Arts (CCA), three.

A list of each award winner, their hometown, college and destination is below

Undergraduate Students:

• Brittney Benchoff (Morgantown), Engineering (CEMR), International Student Exchange Program, Australia.
• Kristine Finley (Hurricane), Bio-Chemistry, International Studies (ECAS), WVU Exchange, Morocco.
• Danielle Frazier (Morgantown), Communications (ECAS), WVU Exchange, Morocco.
• Jonathan King (Charleston), Biology (ECAS), Amizade Global Learning, Brazil.
• Justin Moore (New Columbia, Pa.), International Studies (ECAS), International Student Exchange Program, Japan.
• Sarah Perry (Morgantown), Marketing (B&E), WVU Exchange, Hong Kong. Morgantown, WV.
• Faith Pirlo (Morgantown), International Studies (ECAS), Mountaineer Programs Abroad, Russia.
• Sierra Wallizer (Ridgeley), Marketing (B&E) WVU Exchange, Hong Kong.

Graduate Students:

• Ermira Babamusta (Morgantown), Political Science, International Studies (ECAS), Faculty-led Program, France.
• Davina Bird (Morgantown), Agriculture, Natural Resources (DCANR&A), Conference Presentation, Germany.
• Vinh Dang (Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon), Music (CCA), Music Performance, Vietnam.
• Ryan Frost (Morgantown), Music (CCA), Faculty Led Program, Ghana.
• Toni Hando (Morgantown), Design, Technology (ECAS), Research, Japan.
• Rhonda Hollen (Buckhannon), Journalism (PRSJ), Research, West Africa.
• Braxton Lewis (Morgantown), Industrial Hygiene (CEMR), Research, Hungary (retroactive).
• Kurt Teeter (Provo, Utah), Ceramics (CCA), Research, Mexico.



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Rebecca McDaniel, 304-293-6955