by Kristian Chervenock
Participation in study abroad among NMSU students this past year has never been greater and we expect this trend to continue as our program and scholarship opportunities expand. Spring semester 2012 will see 113 NMSU students studying abroad in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa. This is the largest cohort of Aggies abroad in the history of our program; reflecting an increase of 66% in students participating in study abroad from Spring semester 2011.
As the numbers of Aggies studying abroad continues to rise, so do our international partnerships. With the launching of three new and exciting exchange programs in South America, Europe and Asia—Peru, Denmark and China—students now have even more study abroad locations to choose from and an even wider range of multi and interdisciplinary curriculum options.
The number of international exchange students attending NMSU is also on the rise with nearly 100 students from over a dozen countries living, learning and thriving on our campus. Our Study Abroad Ambassadors continue to provide exemplary service to all visiting exchange students by preparing comfort packages given to exchange students upon arrival (sheets, towels, toiletries and kitchen supplies), arranging campus tours, providing assistance with registration and organization of local and regional field trips and activities.
Our Global Village Program, aimed at cultivating global citizenship, also continues to thrive. The Global Village is an internationally renowned model that brings international students studying at NMSU together with students from the US who have an interest in international affairs and/or travel. Many languages, cultures, majors, and backgrounds are represented in this truly diverse community.
We are proud to continue to provide financial support to students who apply to NMSU Study Abroad programs. Over 75% of our students receive some form of financial aid while abroad. In the 2010-11 academic year, five NMSU students competed successfully for Gilman Scholarships totaling over $20,000. The Gilman Scholarship is a federally funded program supporting students who have been traditionally underrepresented in study abroad, or who choose non-traditional study abroad destinations. The 2010-11 academic year also witnessed the creation of the NMSU Study Abroad Scholarship Fund where student fee monies feed an annual scholarship fund totaling nearly $60,000. For Spring semester alone, over $22,000 will be awarded to Aggies accepted to study abroad programs.
As our campus continues to internationalize and greater numbers of faculty, staff and students become aware of the intellectually meaningful and personally transformative opportunities that a study abroad experience offers, the number of Aggies participating in study abroad will continue to grow. We are quickly approaching the national average of 3% of our student population studying abroad and it is our goal to reach 5% within the next ten years bolstering NMSU to one of the top institutions for study abroad in the country.