Two Students Win Inaugural-Year IIE Study Abroad Travel Grants

Thasfia Chowdhury (left) and Chelsea Pierre-Louis

Thasfia Chowdhury '20 (left) and Chelsea Pierre-Louis '19 have won IIE Generation Study Abroad travel grants in a national competition for the new awards.

GENESEO, N.Y. -- Two SUNY Geneseo students, Thasfia Chowdhury '20 and Chelsea Pierre-Louis '19, have won Institute for International Education (IIE) Generation Study Abroad Travel Grants in a national competition. The program is in its inaugural year and provides a $2,000 grant towards the travel costs of studying abroad, to be used for travel to and from the country of study and within the region.

Chowdhury is a sophomore majoring in political science and government and applied for a summer 2018 study abroad program in Bahia, Brazil. Pierre-Louis is a junior psychology major, who will spend spring semester 2018 at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, as part of the exchange program the College maintains with that institution.

“As a student majoring in political science and pursuing a career in law, I have deep fascinations with social justice, war, and the politics of conflict,” said Chowdhury. “The coursework I take in Brazil will include learning Portuguese, reading about the history of slave influx in the region, and exploring areas with colonial legacies. Studying abroad has always been a dream of mine, as the values of my household in conjunction with my upbringing in the melting pot of New York City have encouraged me to live my life amid diversity and admiration for others all over the world.”

The program, according to the IIE website, is for U.S. students “from a broad range of backgrounds to make it possible for them to participate in academic, internship or service-learning experiences abroad. The program is intended to diversify study abroad by encouraging participation by students who would otherwise not participate in an international experience as part of their college education and focusing especially on supporting high-achieving, low-income students.”

“Participating in the exchange program at the University of Groningen will signify a life-altering experience in finding myself and furthering my purpose in influencing the world around me through the platform of psychology,” said Pierre-Louis.  “I will learn more about different cultures, people, and the psychology around them. My ultimate goal in life is to have an impact on this world, specializing on young people, through environmental psychology and research to see how the environment — such as home or surroundings—can positively or negatively impact their mental stability and how to alter it in a beneficial way.”

The grants are valid for study abroad experiences in East Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Middle East and North Africa, South and Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and The Americas. After Chowdhury and Pierre-Louis return from their study abroad, as part of their award responsibilities, they will become Generation Study Abroad Ambassadors and share their experiences with the Geneseo community to promote both study abroad and the Travel Grant Program.

“For the 2017-2018 academic year, only 100 Travel Grants will be awarded nationwide, so the fact that two Geneseo students won in the first application cycle in this program’s existence is remarkable,” said Michael Mills, Director of National Fellowships and Scholarships. “The College’s successes with these Travel Grant Program awards, Gilman Scholarships for international study, and the U.S. Student Fulbright awards are testaments to the quality of our student body, the professionalism and skill of the Study Abroad Office staff, and the dedication of the faculty who lead many of these study abroad trips and/or inspire our students to study in another country.”     

The summer and fall 2018 application for the next round of IIE Generation Study Abroad Travel Grants will open in January 2018 with a March 4, 2018 submission deadline. Learn more Travel Grant Program here.

Students and alumni seeking more information about and help with applications for the IIE Travel Grants and any other fellowship or scholarship program should contact Michael Mills, Director of National Fellowships and Scholarships, at or 245-6002.


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