Over 400 eligible students gathered in O'Donnell Hall on Feb. 1, to be entered into EKU’s annual Spin the Wheel Education Abroad Scholarship contest after a two-year hiatus. Excitement was high as students eagerly waited for the scholarship recipient names to be drawn.
The Spin the Wheel scholarship, covering complete program costs and airfare for education abroad, was awarded to 14 students. When their names were drawn, students got to spin the wheel to determine their education-abroad destinations.
Zoe Moore, an agriculture education major, said she entered the contest on a whim. With the scholarship, she now plans to spend her summer in Ireland.
From Danville, Kentucky, Moore said, “I’ve never been outside of the country. I have only ever been to a few U.S. states that are close to Kentucky. I never thought I’d be able to travel out of the country. The thought of being able to afford the opportunity to study abroad was unbelievable to me.”
Kassandra Ramirez, a nursing major, wiped away happy tears as she tried to soak in the reality that she’d won.
“Growing up, I’ve always wanted to study abroad and get to travel and explore the world,” Ramirez said. “Also, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I knew I wanted to enter.”
Jennifer White, EKU’s director of education abroad, says stories like those of Moore and Ramirez are why the event was initially created.
“We wanted to provide opportunities for students who never really expected to study abroad. We want our students to have these experiential, global learning opportunities, and this contest removes any financial barriers,” White said. “Plus, it’s just so exciting! You can feel the energy as we draw names and students spin the wheel. We all love this event, and we were so happy to bring it back this year.”
EKU alumna and Foundation Board member, Dr. Deborah Alexander, came to the event to help draw names of the winners and share a few words about how her time abroad shaped her life. Alexander held a long and distinguished career as a foreign service specialist with the U.S. Department of State. Whether home or abroad, her service centered on establishing or improving government services, expanding voting rights, providing humanitarian assistance and advancing equality and justice.
Hilary Koster, a criminal justice major, was one of the 14 students whose name was drawn for the Spin the Wheel Scholarship.
“I’m passionate about seeing how people live in different areas of the world and exploring different cultures! I’m mostly looking forward to the experience and the friends that I will make on the trip,” Koster said.
Claire Bailey, a psychology major, has never been further from Kentucky than Alabama.
“I am very excited to experience something new. Aside from that, I am really looking forward to the class I am taking, because it sounds like it will be very interesting and fun!” said Bailey, who will be studying in London. “I had been told how rewarding an experience education abroad is for everyone who goes, so I wanted the opportunity to experience that. I never thought I would win, but it was worth a try, and I’m very glad I entered.”
The winners, their hometowns, and education-abroad destinations are:
Claire Bailey of Mt. Sterling, London
Tabitha Cassidy of Ashland, Europe
Claudia Douglas of Stanford, Ireland
Karalee Hale of Corbin, London
Natasha Hinton of Lexington, Italy
Emily Kiefer of Fort Thomas, Italy
Charles Kokinda of Richmond, Thailand
Hilary Koster of Alexandria, Ireland
Zoe Moore of Danville, Ireland
Chelsea Orduna of Richmond, Spain
Kassandra Ramirez of Letcher County, London
Willow Spencer of Winchester, Argentina
Brenna Voss of Alexandria, Italy
Emily White of Lexington, Argentina
Scholarships were sponsored by: EKU President’s Office; Provost’s Office; Education Abroad Office; College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences; College of Business; College of Education and Applied Human Sciences; and Friends of the EKU Libraries.
EKU’s Education Abroad program contributes to a quality education by providing students opportunities to expand their horizons and learn through new experiences, cultures, languages and historical sites. Learn more about EKU Education Abroad.