First-Generation Abroad Program Opens Doors for WSU Students

For Washington State University (WSU) students who are the first in their families to attend college, the First-Generation Abroad program (FGA) is turning study abroad dreams into reality. The program gives first-generation college students access to advisors who walk them through the study abroad process, from filling out the application and finding scholarships to organizing fundraisers and booking flights. Advisors also travel with the students to their destination cities to ensure a smooth transition.

For the second year, CEA is proud to support First-Generation Abroad at WSU. Last summer in San Jose, Costa Rica, the first class of WSU students took the opportunity to gain academic, professional and personal skills abroad that set them apart in an increasingly globalized workforce. This summer, CEA will host a new class of first generation WSU students in Rome, Italy! To increase participation among this under-represented group for study abroad, CEA added additional scholarship funds to help cover passport fees.

This year’s recipients of CEA’s Passport Scholarships are Karina Tamayo, Sarah Sehrt and Lisa Thompson. For each of them, the opportunity to study abroad and simply possess a passport fills them with excitement and gratitude.

Karina Tamayo

The oldest of three children, Karina Tamayo feels a responsibility to set an example for her siblings, and the FGA program has enabled her to pursue opportunities that weren’t available to her parents. “For both of them, education past high school was not something that was pushed or encouraged. For this reason, they both want me to do better for myself, to explore the opportunities available to me,” says Karina. “Being that it is a program specifically geared for first generation students, it helps bring a comfort that they are assisting our needs and questions that first generation students often come across.” Karina says having a U.S. passport has opened doors for her, and that her trip to Rome is just the beginning!

Sarah Sehrt

For aspiring Wine Business Management major Sarah Sehrt, studying abroad in Rome is a dream come true. “When I found out that FGA was heading to Rome this summer, I knew that I had to go,” explained Sarah. “I plan on visiting as many wineries as I can while spending the month there and I plan on taking in as much of the experience as I can. These next few months are going to be hard, but I know that I have the right resources around me to be as ready as I can possibly be before I leave.” Before signing up with FGA, Sarah admits she had never even thought of needing a passport, but today she feels a new sense of opportunity. “A passport is a gateway to the rest of my life. I know that after I get on the airplane to Rome that I will never be the same again.”

Lisa Thompson

Freshman Lisa Thompson isn’t letting her age stop her from the jumping at the opportunity to experience Rome and change her life through study abroad. An elementary special education major, Lisa feels the experience can only help her with her personal and academic goals. “Not many freshmen jump at the opportunity to study abroad so soon in their education, but I saw the chance and took it. I figured I’ll never feel 100% ready to travel abroad, so I might as well push myself. Studying abroad will teach me to push my boundaries and leave my comfort zone,” Lisa explained. Having a passport for the first time is just one of the milestones Lisa feels excited about. “I’ve never left the country so this is big for me.”

Congratulations! Enjoy Rome!

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