Betty Ritchie-Birrer's Generosity Makes Study Abroad Possible for Students
Thankful for the impact Illinois Wesleyan had on her life, Betty Ritchie-Birrer has made several significant gifts to Illinois Wesleyan. One of those gifts makes it possible for students to take their thirst for knowledge and wisdom far beyond the borders of campus.
A member of the Class of 1947, Betty established the Betty Ritchie-Birrer '47 Endowed Study Abroad Fund because she valued the many opportunities she had to travel to other countries. The fund provides competitive, need-based scholarships for students to study outside of the United States.
Since its establishment in 2012, the scholarship has been awarded to nearly 30 students, who are asked to record and share their newfound knowledge with the Illinois Wesleyan community. Students have shared these influential experiences in a variety of personal and imaginative ways.
Art major Lucy Sanchez '17 documented her semester in Ireland by creating original paintings, sketches and drawings informed by her understanding of the Emerald Isle.
Spanish and secondary education double major Jessica Berringer '15 blogged about the hundreds of years of history right under her feet, literally, in Seville, Spain.
Business administration major Emily Diehl '17 posted stunning photos from her May Term "Renaissance Italy" travel course to an Instagram account.
Business major Kerry Zhang's travels included a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stonehenge.
Biology major Tess Kelley '16 documented the impact of her environmental program from its base in the Himalyan country of Bhutan.
And international business major Nick Cocorikis '17 created a Facebook album chronicling his time in Japan. Cocorikis said his semester in Japan was the most formative experience of his life.
"It was also the hardest thing I've ever done, but knowing I succeeded and grew from the experience makes it rewarding," he says.
"Without the Betty Ritchie-Birrer Endowed Study Abroad Scholarship, it would not have been possible for me to study in Japan."
Research indicates that study abroad benefits students in many ways, including building self-confidence and broadening worldviews. Illinois Wesleyan students are encouraged to strongly consider the opportunity to study abroad, and nearly half (48 percent) of them do so.
But for some, the opportunity for such life-changing experiences simply would not be possible without Betty's generosity and the scholarships from the endowed study abroad fund that bears her name.
Support Your IWU Passion
To learn more about ways you can provide formative opportunities for students, contact Steve Seibring '81 at 309-556-3135 or [email protected].