International Programs Receives Award

SUNY New Paltz has been recognized as a leader among the nation’s colleges and universities for implementing creative, practical strategies that bring study abroad opportunities to those that would not have had a chance otherwise, college officials said.

In May, the school was awarded the 2011 Innovation Award by the Diversity in Global Education Network.

This is the first time the Center for International Programs has been given any type of award or recognition for their work in cooperation with the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP). They work hard to make underrepresented students aware of the system of preparations necessary to allow them to enter a study abroad program.

“These wonderful opportunities should be an affordable and accessible part of a meaningful academic way,” said Bruce Sillner, dean of international programs at SUNY New Paltz.

Sillner attributes the success of the programs to the National Gilman Scholarship. Ten years ago, New Paltz began giving away the Gilman Scholarship to underrepresented study abroad students. These students consist of minorities, those facing economic hardships, or those with majors that do not typically fit in with study abroad programs such as science, engineering, and math.

“The ultimate goal is to create participation of underrepresented students and encourage study in nontraditional countries,” said Jean-Paul Sewavi, a study abroad advisor at SUNY New Paltz.

Student recipients attend programs in countries outside of Europe in places such as India, Africa and South America. New Paltz has awarded more Gilman Scholarships per year than any other SUNY school. In the fall 2011 semester they took first place with seven awards, while second and third place went to Stony Brook and Albany whom awarded two scholarships each.

Sewavi says the biggest part of his job is informing students of the services available to them and giving them the confidence to write the essay.

“Anyone can apply if they meet the qualifications they just need to know it’s out there,” said Sewavi. “It takes teamwork between EOP advisors and financial aid to promote.”

After winning the award, New Paltz was invited to speak at a Diversity Networks workshop on Oct. 6  titled “Diversifying Education Abroad — From Discussion To Action” at San Diego State University.  They will discuss how they tailor study abroad programs to underrepresented students strengths, weaknesses and economic standings.

The International Programs Department will be holding a Study Abroad fair on Sept. 15 in the lobby of the Lecture Center on campus for all students that are interested in receiving more information on the topic.