DePaul’s McNair scholars gain knowledge overseas this summer
July 23, 2012
A group of DePaul ‘s McNair scholars traveled to Croatia and England this summer as part of their Summer Research Opportunity Program to present their own academic research projects in an international setting and also learn more about education abroad.
The McNair Scholar program is a federally funded TRIO program. It helps prepare first-generation college students with financial need or members of a population underrepresented in graduate education for doctoral studies and faculty careers through involvement in research and other scholarly activities.
Croatian conference and tour
McNair scholars on the trip included DePaul students and University of Central Florida students, some of whom also conducted their summer research projects at the Center of Access and Attainment at DePaul over the summer.
At the University of Zagreb in Croatia, the McNair scholars participated in a panel discussion of students from around the globe at the European Access Network Conference. The 21st annual conference addressed the issue of access to higher education in Europe.
Brian Spittle, assistant vice president for Access and Attainment, accompanied the students to the conference. He delivered a presentation on the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, underscoring a connection between European and American education. The IB program was initially created in Europe for the children of traveling diplomats, in order for them to have a challenging and quality education no matter where they lived. Since then, a dozen Chicago schools have successfully adopted the system.
McNair students visited local museums, government buildings, an elementary school at Varazdin, Croatia, and the American Embassy in Zagreb. Leisure activities included sightseeing and a salsa party.
“International awareness and competence are increasingly important for anyone who regards themselves as being well educated,” Spittle says. “These are students who are preparing to be faculty to teach others, so it is particularly important for this group of students to have some level of international experience. When students come back from these experiences their confidence has grown enormously.”
Throughout the trip, students blogged about their experiences and the positive encounters in their host countries. “Our hosts have been wonderful,” says DePaul McNair scholar Ryan Keifer. “To be honest, I’m a little surprised at how much they’ve done for us and how much time they’ve spent with us showing us around.”
The successful trip has opened doors and possibilities of a sustained partnership with the University of Croatia for visiting McNair students. DePaul and the University of Central Florida are also looking into creating a web presence for their and other McNair students to share stories and travel blogs in the future, according to Spittle.