Former Missouri Gov. and Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond has long been a champion of global cooperation to meet new challenges and promote economic vitality.
Over the past five years, Bond – now a partner with the KBS Group – has been working to build a new generation of global citizens in his home state through the establishment of the Bond International Scholars program, which provides study abroad scholarships of up to $5,000 to students at the University of Missouri–St. Louis and the University of Missouri–Columbia.
“I’ve made it my cause to talk and find a way to encourage more young people from Missouri – from UMSL and Mizzou – to travel abroad,” Bond said at a reception last Wednesday in UMSL’s Millennium Student Center to celebrate the newest Bond International Scholars. “I think not only are these young people gaining a much better understanding and probably much more successful business life, but they’re doing so much for our state, our community and the nation as a whole.”
More than 60 students from either UMSL or MU have had the opportunity to study abroad with support from the program since 2018. They’ve had the chance to immerse themselves in new cultures in 24 countries across Central and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Attendees of Wednesday’s reception heard from UMSL student and past Bond International Scholar Georgeann McLemore, among others, about her experience studying in South Korea and the impact it continues to have on her as she works toward her degree in information systems and technology.
“From the moment I stepped off the plane at Incheon Airport, I was immersed in a whole new culture, from the food to the language to the incredible history,” McLemore said. “During my semester abroad, I had the chance to form friendships with people from all around the world. We came from different cultures, religions, backgrounds but we were able to find common ground by our shared desire to learn.”
She added: “In addition to broadening my worldview, this study abroad experience also helped me grow on a personal level. Being immersed in a foreign culture forced me out of my comfort zone. I became more adaptable, self-reliant and confident in myself as I navigated in the country. I am incredibly grateful to UMSL and the Bond International Scholarship for providing me with this opportunity.”
Bond seemed to relish hearing about McLemore’s experience as well as those of MU student Arden Schupp, bound for Australia next semester, and faculty members Mary Stegmaier at MU and Michael Costello at UMSL, who have led study abroad trips for students supported by the scholarships.
“It’s always a thrill for me to be here,” Bond said.
Learn more about UMSL’s latest Bond Scholars:
Nino Cipriano, a senior majoring in graphic design, traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, last summer.
“My favorite part was being able to walk around and the public transportation,” Cipriano said. “It was so easy to move from one place to another without having to get into a car to drive somewhere.”
He was also grateful for the scholarship, which helped him leave the country for the first time to experience a different culture.
“I was heavily influenced by the art and the trip helped inspire my senior capstone project,” Cipriano said. “I’m incredibly thankful to have been chosen for the scholarship.”
Abigail Foust, a junior majoring in accounting, made a summer trip to Oxford, England, and had the opportunity to make connections with and learn from American and British legal professionals.
“Receiving a scholarship for my study abroad program meant I could put my full attention on learning and exploring while abroad, instead of worrying about finances,” Foust said.
Morgan Nelson, a senior majoring in criminology and criminal justice, also took part in last summer’s trip to Oxford.
“Going outside of the U.S. for the first time without my parents was meaningful because it made me feel like an adult,” she said. “I also gained friends from the experience. Receiving the scholarship made studying abroad more affordable and lessened the stress of the cost while increasing the excitement of going abroad.”
Anna O’Brien, a senior majoring in philosophy with a minor in political science, will travel to Belgium and the Netherlands this winter. She’s looking forward to experiencing different cultures, trying new foods and learning more about the court systems in the two countries.
“It is truly an honor to have been chosen for this scholarship,” O’Brien said. “I am eager to represent the UM System abroad and can’t wait to use the knowledge that I gain from this experience in my future career. Receiving this aid takes a huge weight off of my shoulders when it comes to expenses for this experience.”
Drew Ryherd, who graduated in August with a degree in public policy and nonprofit administration, traveled to the Netherlands last summer and said he gained a new perspective on the globalization and the diversity of human culture.
“Aside from more comfortably granting myself a more holistic experience of the Netherlands, it also granted me more financial stability upon returning home,” Ryherd said. “Receiving a scholarship meant seeing the world to me.”
Ryan Sanders, a junior majoring in business administration, is set to travel to Belgium and the Netherlands this winter in what will be his first time outside of the United States.
“It means a lot to me as I am extremely focused on my studies and professional career,” Sanders said. “That means I do not work much to focus on schoolwork and events. This opportunity is accomplishing all of those things I am most focused on and giving me the funds to accomplish those ambitions.”
Rebecca Troyer is a junior majoring in public policy administration and is also heading to Belgium and the Netherlands this winter.
“I am incredibly excited to visit the political institutions that were, and are, pivotal in influencing and shaping historical and current international policies,” Troyer said. “It has been a lifelong dream of mine to travel beyond the borders of the United States and immerse myself in cultures different from my own so that I can gain a broader and deeper perspective of the global community and fully understand what it truly means to be a global citizen on both an academic and personal level.”
Kiley Ware, a junior majoring in economics, took part in last summer’s trip to Oxford, and she relished the chance to explore unfamiliar cities with new friends.
“Since eating and going on excursions while abroad is pricey enough,” Ware said, “receiving the scholarship helped me enjoy the experience without worrying too much about costs abroad.”