Going places: New psychology award makes study abroad possible
At their first advising meeting, psychology major Jasmine Oriekaose told Derek Montgomery she wanted to study abroad. “She was already thinking about it and working through the details of where and when she would go,” the psychology professor recalled.
Last fall, the Naperville sophomore walked into the Study Abroad Office to explore her options. Although she’d been assured that costs for studying abroad were in line with those to stay on campus, she was concerned. “I was on the fence about it,” she admitted. “Financially, I was worried.”
She’s worried no more. “I’m going to Denmark,” she said.
Named in April as the first recipient of the Dr. Claire Etaugh Study Abroad Award, Oriekaose will travel next spring to the University of Copenhagen to study positive psychology.
“It’s unreal how well this is working out,” she said. “I’ll be doing research in positive psychology and organizational behaviors. My interest is in wellness and well-being, and they have a Happiness Lab I want to be a part of.”
Funded by an endowment created by former dean and Distinguished Professor of Psychology Emerita Claire Etaugh, the award gives $1,000 to a psychology student with financial need who wishes to study abroad. Etaugh intended it to help a student who hadn’t traveled abroad before.
Timothy Koeltzow, department chair and associate professor, said the award dovetails with the department’s goals. “It represents the first mechanism by which we can routinely support study abroad. The value of study abroad is that it compels students to confront problems (navigating transportation, overcoming language barriers/cultural differences) in a manner that is transformational.
“They begin to understand that their own culture and experiences are not to be taken for granted and that there may be multiple ways to view the challenges of contemporary living.”
Etaugh, who retired from the university in 2017 after more than five decades of teaching, didn’t travel abroad until she was 35. Most of her experiences involved accompanying students and teaching courses for Bradley, especially The Psychology of Women, during interims in London.
“London was a great location to teach a class in,” she recalled. “Outside of class, we went to the theater and to exhibits at the Tate Modern and elsewhere. Students were required to write a reflection essay after the course, and so many said it was life changing, eye-opening for them.
“Our mission in this department is always to provide the most enriching experience we can for our students,” Etaugh added. “Our graduates write to us while in graduate or professional school elsewhere, saying, ‘I’m better prepared than students from other universities.’”