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Vira Heinz Scholars Go Abroad

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ViraHeinz-scholarsLaurel Murray was in the library studying for an accounting exam when she got an email acceptance for the Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership. All of a sudden, the library was no longer quiet. "I started screaming and ran out of the room," Murray says. "I don't think I've ever run so fast."

Alexis Walker and Katey Ladika were also chosen for the Pittsburgh-based women's leadership development and study abroad program, which includes a spring weekend retreat to develop intercultural and global perspectives, a summer study abroad component, and a fall leadership development retreat.

Murray, an accounting major, will spend the summer in Germany, interning at a high-tech business incubator in Berlin and volunteering at a Syrian refugee facility in Munich. "And I'm going bungee jumping, canyoning, hiking, and hang-gliding over the Alps," she says. Ladika, a media arts major, will study photography, art, and the Czech language at Charles University in Prague. Walker, a political science major, is living with a host family in Morocco, taking Arabic classes and political science courses, and working with a nonprofit that benefits women and children. Her summer study abroad is also supported through a Benjamin Gilman Scholarship from the U.S. State Department. "I am secretly super excited to ride a camel, because who wouldn't want to do that?" she says.

Forty-eight women from 16 Pennsylvania universities are participating in the program this year, traveling to countries across Europe, Africa, and Asia. Participants received scholarships of at least $5,000 to fund their educational program costs. When the RMU trio returns to the United States at the end of the summer, they are tasked with creating a social action project for the campus community. They plan to draw from their experiences as women abroad and will encourage other students to participate in the program.

Written by Megan DeArmit