In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, CIEE and Mobility International USA (MIUSA) have provided 27 scholarships to U.S. college students with disabilities to study abroad.
Representing 24 colleges and universities across the country, the students who received CIEE/MIUSA Access to the World Scholarships had the opportunity to further their academic studies while immersing themselves in another country and culture including France, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Spain, and other locations.
The scholarships are part of CIEE’s five-year leadership pledge to increase access to study abroad for all students from all backgrounds. “International education is a powerful tool in the development of all students, providing necessary skills to succeed in a globally interconnected world,” said CIEE President and Chief Executive Officer James P. Pellow.
Virginia Commonwealth University student Antoine Craig thought studying abroad was beyond his reach. A strong advocate for people with disabilities in his home community of Richmond, Virginia, Antoine believed his visual impairment would preclude him from traveling and learning abroad. “I never thought I would be able to leave the U.S. and experience another culture. As a visually impaired person, there are a host of challenges – some I could expect and some I could not even fathom,” he said.
Antoine received a scholarship to take part in CIEE’s Summer Language and Culture program in Alicante, Spain, in 2015. With this experience, he became the first person in his family to study abroad – with or without a disability. “The scholarship has allowed me to overcome my fears of traveling alone. Jumping in headfirst through this experience allowed me to see what I’m really capable of. Without the CIEE/MIUSA Access to the World Scholarship, I don’t know that I would ever have had the chance to learn that lesson,” said Craig.
MIUSA CEO and co-founder Susan Sygall applauded the long-standing partnership with CIEE. “I am so excited that MIUSA and CIEE are working in partnership to increase the number of people with disabilities who participate in all types of international exchange,” she said. “The scholarships have created a powerful catalyst for current awardees to serve as mentors and examples to demonstrate to people with disabilities ‘what is possible’.”
Joseph Underwood, a student at the University of Missouri – Columbia who received a scholarship to further his Spanish language skills during CIEE’s Summer Language and Culture program in Seville, Spain, this past June, agrees, saying, “If I were to speak to another student with a disability who was considering studying abroad, I’d tell them there’s no reason to think they can’t. It’s worth it. Studying abroad was the best experience of my life.”
CIEE and MIUSA launched the scholarship program in March 2015 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which has helped to expand opportunities for people with disabilities since 1990. The scholarships are part of CIEE’s Generation Study Abroad pledge to break through the barriers of cost, curriculum, and culture to double the number of students from all backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and majors who study abroad by 2020. In support of this initiative, CIEE has committed to providing $20 million in scholarships and grants to American students, to sponsoring passports for 10,000 students, and to offering an annual $20,000 grant to college faculty to support innovative approaches to custom study abroad programs.
Read more about CIEE’s Generation Study Abroad pledge.