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President’s Award for Global Learning funds international student research projects

Advertising junior Rebecca Chen said she woke up early one morning and decided to go on a "whim" to the President's Award for Global Learning meeting.

“I went there, and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing,’” she said. "I was just going, saying yes on a whim and seeing where it takes me."

It's taking Chen all the way to Ghana.

The President's Award for Global Learning is a program that provides funding to student teams to take on international student projects. Students form teams of two to four members -- all from different majors -- then find three faculty mentors from different departments to complete the team. Students select one out of seven approved regions for where they will conduct their project.

Chen is a part of the Ghana team that is working on a project that deals with colorism, which is the discrimination of skin color within one's race. Meme Drumwright, associate professor in the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations, serves as a faculty mentor for the Ghana team. Additionally, Moody College is represented by Associate Professor Lucy Atkinson, a mentor to the Southwest Asia team and communication and leadership senior Christina Ciaburri, who is on the Latin America team.

This semester, Chen’s team is working on their project at The University of Texas at Austin to research how students have been affected by colorism. This summer, they will implement the same protocols at the University of Ghana.

The team describes Chen as visually creative and great at curating ideas. Her skillsets are instrumental as the team documents the research process, both here and in Ghana, and also what the team has learned along the way.

“You'll learn a lot about yourself,” Chen said. “Since it is a student-run project, it's all self-initiated. Learning how to run meetings, how to be efficient, how to plan things and what needs to get done -- the whole timeline in organizing things in a project (is) very valuable to learn, too.”

Cami Toro
Storytelling Team