group of students standing, one kneeling in front, holding a GVSU Global bandana

Study abroad numbers slowly increase after pandemic curtailed international travel

Students who received Murray, Padnos and Secchia scholarships to assist with funding study abroad experiences are pictured at top.

For the first time since 2019, more than 110 Grand Valley students are preparing to live and learn overseas during study abroad experiences.

Rebecca Morrissey, director of study abroad and international partnerships, said staff members at the Padnos International Center are excited to see increasing numbers of students planning experiences abroad after the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed international travel. Last year, fewer than 40 students completed international programs.

“We are very excited to see study abroad programming resume in many parts of the world," Morrissey said. "These opportunities enrich the lives of participants and offer experiences that further develop important skills such as intercultural communication, problem-solving, adaptability and independence.”

Students who have been waiting to study abroad should contact PIC advisors, Morrissey said.

Kobe Wright and Quinn Hefferan Nordlund are pictured in separate photos, both are standing, photo is composite
Kobe Wright, left, and Quinn Hefferan Nordlund earned scholarships to assist with funding study abroad experiences.
Image credit - courtesy photos

Quinn Hefferan Nordlund is a junior who is majoring in international relations and has plans to apply to Grand Valley's speech-language pathology master's degree program. Nordlund will travel to Germany in September for a year-long program and said the opportunity combines aspects of both academic programs.

"I wanted to have an international perspective because I would like to work with kids in English as a Second Language programs," Nordlund said. "After being in Germany for a year, I will come back with more empathy and understanding for students who might be struggling with language skills."

Nordlund has relatives who live in Germany and spent time with them last summer, even learning to drive in the country. She said her passion for global travel started when her family in Newaygo began hosting high school exchange students.

She will experience history during her stay. Nordlund will live in Munich and stay in the same residential area that housed athletes competing in the 1972 Olympics, when terrorists killed two Israeli athletes and took others hostage.

Nordlund received the Barbara H. Padnos International Scholarship, presented to undergraduate students who are studying abroad for more than one semester.

Kobe Wright earned a Mark A. and Elizabeth C. Murray Scholarship, designed to support students who want to study abroad but might not be able to afford to do so without financial assistance.

Wright, who is majoring in film and video production, will study in Japan during the Fall 2023 semester. A longtime fan of animation, manga and Japanese culture, Wright has been looking forward to delving into the country's history and language.

"Japanese was not offered at my high school but I tried to learn as much as I could about the language before coming to Grand Valley," he said. "It's such a beautiful language and I can't wait to go to soak up all I can about the culture and the country."

The PIC recently hosted an event for its Murray, Padnos and Secchia scholarship recipients. This marks the first year a group of students earned Ambassador Peter F. Secchia International Studies Scholarships, established by former U.S. ambassador to Italy, Peter F. Secchia, and his wife, Joan, through his estate. Students who earn a Secchia Scholarship receive $5,000 to study in Italy.


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