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A photo of Amelia Chouravong.

With a Sullivan scholarship, Ami Chouravong, University of Minnesota, Morris, will study ways to promote health through public advertising during a year in the Philippines.

Capstone year abroad

Sullivan scholarships will provide five U seniors with international study in their major fields

By Gayla Marty

Published May 24, 2004

When Amelia Chouravong graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris, this month, she didn't go looking for a typical job. With a double-major in speech-communication and Spanish at Morris--and a Katherine Sullivan scholarship--she will attend the University of the Philippines instead, where she will study mass communication with an emphasis on television broadcasting.

Chouravong hopes to work with the media, possibly in advertising, to create ads that promote health behavior-"Smokey the Bear-like," she says. She wants to use her knowledge of international media to promote health in developing countries.

Last summer, Chouravong visited the Philippines for the first time. She studied the Tagalog language and learned about the country where her mother was born.

"I think my passion for the people and interest in Filipino media showed through in my [scholarship] interview," said Chouravong.

"When I came to college, I was planning to concentrate solely on academics, to lie low, and not to join any organizations," says Chouravong. But she couldn't resist becoming involved in campus life at Morris.

Chouravong joined the Asian Student Association, mentored other students, taught English as a second language at the local elementary school, and kept playing the piano. When it came time to graduate, her peers chose her as the class commencement speaker.

Each year, Sullivan scholarships support a year abroad for several graduating seniors. The scholarship was endowed in 1982 by the estate of alumna Katherine E. Sullivan, CLA class of 1914. Sullivan scholars are expected to engage in study that earns credit and also immerses them in the host culture and university or institution.

The other four 2004-05 recipients will study in Europe, South America, and Asia.

Leigh Berven, a biology major at the University of Minnesota, Morris, will study spring semester through Denmark's International Study (DIS) program at the University of Copenhagen and the National University Hospital. She is applying to medical school and hopes to attend the Twin Cities campus.

Denmark has "model care" for geriatric medicine, the field the intrigues Berven. She will study anatomy, physiology, biotechnology, and the ethics of Denmark's nationalized health care system.

"Denmark's views of aging are a lot different than in the United States," says Berven. "The U.S. is dealing with a larger segment of older people than it has seen in the last 20 years."

Berven cared for her own grandmother and has worked at Grandview assisted-living residence in Morris. At the University, she worked with the peer health educators and the Women's Resource Center.

Katherine Gerbensky majored in biomedical engineering and Spanish at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and will study in Ecuador.

Gerbensky studied on a short-term program in Spain, which inspired her to take a service-learning course and get more active in the Hispanic community when she came back. On the Sullivan scholarship, she will participate in Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID), a renowned national program that places top students in internships in developing countries.

"I was excited to learn about the MSID program in Quito," says Gerbensky. "I have long wished to pursue both study as well as an internship that offered the chance to learn about international public health in an applied setting when I can make a difference."

Gerbensky will be immersed in Spanish language through language classes and a home-stay, and she will apply her technical skills through a five-month internship.

"Katie's energy and commitment to both Spanish language study and to helping the Spanish-speaking community are amazing to me," says Professor Victor Barocas, "especially so given the considerable demands of the biomedical engineering major."

Ann Vogt, a physiology major at the Twin Cities campus, will also study in Ecuador on the MSID program.

As a college student, she worked with Upward Bound and as a teaching assistant in anatomy. She also volunteered with elementary-school children through YMCA.

In study abroad, Vogt was looking for three things: immersion in another culture for more than a few weeks, the opportunity to become fluent in Spanish, and experience in the health care field.

"My goal is to make it to and through medical school," says Vogt, "and eventually to work with the Spanish-speaking community, in the U.S. or elsewhere, as a physician."

Diana Fu, a double-major in global studies and political science at the Twin Cities campus, will study human rights in China.

"She is an absolutely outstanding student, and, notably, is actively and passionately engaged in practical activities related to her academic interests," says political science professor Raymond Duvall.

"Diana's studies...exhibit a mature sense of purpose in deepening her understanding of human rights in China," says Duvall.

For more information The Sullivan scholarships are open to undergraduate seniors on all campuses of the University of Minnesota. They are granted by the University's Office of International Programs. The Honors Division of the College of Liberal Arts, Twin Cities campus, is responsible for selecting the recipients each year.

The application deadline is normally early in spring semester. For more information, call 612-624-5522.

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