Thanks to a generous gift from Wesleyan friend and alumna Dr. E. Maxine Moose Bruhns ’45 Hon. ’07, four West Virginia Wesleyan College students will be studying abroad this summer. The E. Maxine Moose Bruhns Summer Study Abroad Scholarship will provide funding for four students to participate in international educational programs this summer.
The highly-competitive scholarship winners are Jenna Fuerst, a junior business administration major from Covington, KY; Hannah Jones, a sophomore business administration major from South Charleston, WV; Arin Shatto, a senior social justice (concentration in non-profit management) and gender studies major and political science minor from Ripley, WV; and Anna Slayden, a sophomore biology major from Martinsburg, WV.
Fuerst, who will be studying in Bosnia and Herzegovina, will spend eight weeks studying peace and conflict in the Balkans.
When asked what she was most excited about, Fuerst responded, “One of the things that comes to mind is leaving the United States for the first time, and doing so alone. I also must say that I am excited to see how this experience will better equip me to make a difference in the world.
“I chose to study in Bosnia and Herzegovina because of the rich history this country has, particularly in regards to ethnic tension, war, and genocide,” Fuerst said. “These topics have become more than just an academic interest to me; they have become my passion and to what I want to dedicate my life. “
Fuerst has worked with Oxfam America as a CHANGE Leader, as well as a Human Rights Issue Team Leader for Wesleyan’s Center for Community Engagement & Leadership Development (CCE).
“Community involvement and service has become my place, with the CCE fueling that in me since my arrival at Wesleyan,” she continued. “I am forever grateful to the faculty, staff, and peers who have helped me discover this passion I have for human rights and activism.”
Jones will be spending five weeks in Thailand studying the culture and religion of the area.
“I have always had an interest in learning about other religions, and when I was looking into programs, I wanted to find somewhere that would give me an immersive experience; somewhere I would be learning both in and out of the classroom.”
The classes Jones will be taking will include field trips and excursions to different places in Thailand, including a trekking tour where participants will hike and interact with elephants by bathing and feeding them. However, traveling alone will not be without some learning curves, she knows.
“I have never traveled on my own to a new country before, and I am excited to embrace all the challenges and excitement that comes with that,” she said. “I am ready to be exposed to a completely new lifestyle and world view.”
Shatto will spend seven weeks in India studying caste, class, and gender.
“I spent several months searching for programs that would be the right fit for me,” stated Shatto. “Due to the uniqueness of my majors, it was difficult to find something that would challenge me in the ways in which I was looking to grow.”
Shatto’s yearning for growth led her straight to Bangalore, India.
“Once I discovered the program in Bangalore, I knew it was the perfect opportunity,” commented Shatto. “The courses were intriguing, as well as rigorous, which was a priority for me. Also, India has always been on my ‘Bucket List,’ so why not dive head first?”
She is most excited to live in a culture that is different from her own.
“Through this experience, I will be exposed to new lifestyles, perspectives, religious ideologies, and social intricacies, each of which will force me beyond my comfort zone. That is the most valuable component of traveling.”
Slayden, who wanted to study in a non-western culture, will spend six weeks in Ghana studying international health and social delivery systems.
“After much research and praying, I decided to study in Ghana because this location would not only allow me to grow, but it also offered classes that I was interested in and would help toward my future career goals.
Since Slayden’s goals are to become a pediatrician, she wanted to study something that would enhance those dreams.
“I chose to study international health and social service delivery systems because I want to become a pediatrician,” she said. “These two courses will provide me with a valuable new perspective and greater empathy that I can apply to my field.”
Describing studying in Ghana as a “leap of faith,” Slayden is excited to fuel her passion for medicine.
“I am enthusiastic about that courses I will be taking,” she said. “Being able to study something I am so passionate about while immersing myself in a new culture is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of which I am ready to take full advantage.”
Born in Grafton, WV, Dr. Bruhns has devoted much of her life to the study and appreciation of and participation in other cultures. She has traveled the world, a champion of internationalism and global living. Her work has spanned the globe, from resettling refuges in isolated areas of different countries, helping others and fostering understanding and communication across cultures. Her travel and experiences have helped her to develop deep understanding and scholarly presentations about the different cultures of the world, which she delivers to students and scholars at The University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning. The exhibits she has built there honor the ethnic heritages of many cultures, nations and peoples. Now, she is giving Wesleyan students the opportunity to become global scholars, allowing them to learn and experience more of the world beyond our borders.