API/Abroad101 study abroad scholarship winner!

This past December API partnered with study abroad review site Abroad101 on an innovative scholarship contest, combining personal expression with social media savvy.

Over a one-month period, students were asked why they deserve to win the scholarship and how they would incorporate their studies abroad back to their home university or community. Entries were judged based on quality of their responses as well as the number of Facebook “likes” that students receive for their submission.

During the course of the contest, API and Abroad101 received nearly 60 submissions, and students accumulated over 9,000 Facebook “likes” in the process! The top three contestants alone each had well over 1,700 “likes” each.

After carefully reviewing the submissions (a difficult process!), Pablo Flores of the University of California at Riverside was selected as the scholarship winner. Below is an excerpt from his winning essay (for which he earned 1,842 Facebook “likes”!):

Coming from an area with a low socio-economic background and being a minority student, I am highly underrepresented when it comes to studying abroad. Not only that, but considering that a mere 4% of all college students take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad, the odds are heavily stacked against me. Since I was a child, the idea of traveling has absolutely fascinated me and I have an absolute unquenchable thirst for culture, knowledge and new experiences. Thus, this scholarship would help me in ways I cannot possibly describe in writing. I am a first generation college student and come from a family that came to this country from Mexico to experience a new culture, leaving behind everything they loved back home. My parents came here with literally nothing, hoping for a new beginning in this country that we all love. Thus, I want to continue in my parents footsteps by leaving behind this cultural bubble I am so comfortable in by doing something I could never imagine doing. Not only will this API scholarship help fulfill my dreams of studying abroad this summer, but beyond all the courses and lectures and books I will have to divulge my attention to, I believe it will expand my horizons and open my eyes to a new world. I plan to study Spanish abroad in Spain if I get the opportunity to do so, and am absolutely ecstatic about the idea of doing so. However, the actual act of studying abroad isn’t just what interests me. Like I said before, the cultural shock that I will experience is something that cannot be read, watched, or described. It is a world beyond erudition. Like Siddhartha did in my favorite novel by Herman Hesse, it is a journey that must be personally embarked on and experienced first hand. I can read about the Spanish culture all I want, but that first hand experience, that culture shock that I fervently desire so much, is an opportunity that this scholarship will only be able to offer. Currently, my future plans are oriented with politics or international affairs. Thus, the insights gained by studying abroad in Spain would be monumental and would be of immense help in the realm of international affairs, especially with the whole ongoing Euro crisis. Politicians today lack a sort of compassion for the constituents that they are elected to represent. They run just for the actual act of running and being elected, not to actually help the constituents. The world of politics needs to divulge from the money and power that running for office entitles, to furthering the development of humans not just in this country, but around the world. Thus, they need to understand the collective nature that we all share, as humans. Studying abroad will help me develop my collective understanding of people and cultures, which will be of great use in my future career in international affairs. Above all else, this is what I hope to take back from studying abroad, a new world of insights, or should I say, a new insight on the world.

Congratulations Pablo – we look forward to providing you with an amazing study abroad experience in Spain!

About Abroad101

Abroad101 is a review website and online marketplace for the International Education industry. Founded in 2007 by Tufts, Harvard, and MIT graduates, Abroad101’s mission is to promote global citizenship by fostering the most meaningful study abroad experience for all students through technology innovation in international education. Abroad101 empowers universities with its free market-leading online evaluation tool and provides an advertising and student recruitment platform to global program providers. Abroad101 is a 2010 winner of the MassChallenge global startup competition. To learn more, visit www.studyabroad101.com.


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