Applicants still sought for Padnos Scholarship before Feb. 15 deadline
Applications for the study-abroad Barbara H. Padnos Scholarship are open until Thursday, Feb. 15, and so far only two students have applied. The scholarship committee hopes to award up to eight Grand Valley State University students with scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, meaning that students interested in studying abroad for the 2018-19 academic year still have time to apply.
“This scholarship goes to a unique student who can envision being gone for two semesters, or one full year,” said Mark Schaub, chief international officer for the Padnos International Center and member of the scholarship review committee. "It’s a phenomenal experience, and the money is able to support that phenomenal experience.”
The committee reviews applications submitted through myScholarships, then interviews prospective recipients in search of the most enthusiastic individuals. Final decisions are made, and the award amount is dependent on the recipient’s financial needs and how costly their program is.
“This is meant to be a launching pad for the best and brightest GVSU students to have a great opportunity,” Schaub said.
Last year, three students were awarded the Padnos Scholarship for an amount of $20,000 each. Christopher Lopez is spending the year in Chile, Joshua Bryant in Japan and Sophia Bagnall in Oman.
Bryant is a senior at GVSU studying information systems and business.
“I always wanted to go abroad,” Bryant said via email from Tokyo. “I figured it was the perfect time to do so before it was too late.”
Bryant said he had always wanted to go abroad, and after receiving countless enticing emails from GVSU’s study-abroad office, he decided he couldn't miss out on the opportunity.
After researching Japan in the eighth grade, Bryant became infatuated with the country. He developed a strong desire to experience the culture, learn the language and meet the people there. So, when it came time for him to pick a study-abroad destination, it was an easy decision.
“My experiences so far have been absolutely fantastic,” Bryant said. “Out of all my years in college, this is by far the best year. No question about it.”
Bryant joked that one of the toughest adjustments he had to make upon arriving in Japan was learning to slurp when he eats ramen.
“It was kind of difficult at first, but now it's natural,” Bryant said. Aside from the slurping, Bryant said coming to Japan “felt like home."
"I still feel like myself despite never being here," he said. "It sounds strange, but it really feels good.”
Bryant has loved exploring different parts of Japan. He said the culture, the people and the food have been “breathtaking and life-changing.”
For students who plan to study abroad, Bryant suggests that they make an effort to “always be flexible and determined."
"There were and are still times when I'm oblivious to what's going on around me because of the language barrier, but never allow that or anything to hinder your experience," he said. “Also, always be willing to learn. Even if you may not agree with what's being shown to you, it's still amazing to learn different perspectives and viewpoints.”
Bryant is grateful for the Padnos Scholarship and how it enabled him to have this experience. He advises prospective students to “be honest and show a passion that is genuine” in their scholarship applications. He also recommends that students use the writing center on campus to perfect their application essays, and if they make it to the interview phase of the application, his line of advice is to “just be yourself.”
Students who are interested in studying abroad for the 2018-19 year and would like to be considered for the Padnos Scholarship should apply through myScholarships by Thursday, Feb. 15. Students must also apply to a year-long study-abroad program of their choice, but due to how long the acceptance process can be, they do not necessarily have to be accepted to their program yet in order to be considered for the scholarship.