Study abroad scholarship endowments growing

Elon has received 19 gifts totaling more than $1.35 million to establish endowments that support study abroad scholarships. The new resources will expand financial resources for students who cannot currently afford international study experiences. Details…

Study Abroad in Mexico
Parents, alumni and friends of Elon have responded enthusiastically to Elon’s priority of raising study abroad endowments in its fundraising campaign, which is now in the leadership phase.

Elon is the top master’s level university in the nation for the percentage of students who study abroad; 73 percent of graduating seniors have had at least one international study experience. Elon students regularly say that study abroad is one of the most powerful aspects of their education, but financing has become more of a problem.

“This year, we’ve had more requests for study abroad assistance than ever before,” says Larry Basirico, dean of international programs. “The programs are becoming more expensive and the U.S. dollar is declining in value overseas, so some students simply can’t afford to travel. There’s no question that these new gifts will be a great help.”

This year, Elon provided study abroad financial awards averaging about $500 to 60 students during Winter Term and another 20 for spring semester. “We try to fund everyone who needs help at some level, but in most cases the available funds don’t allow for large scholarships for any one individual,” Basirico says.

New study abroad endowment gifts include 14 gifts at the $25,000 level, two at the $50,000 level and three at $150,000 or higher.

As one of the campaign’s fundraising priorities, the university hopes to guarantee that every Elon undergraduate, regardless of economic circumstances, has access to an international study experience.

Among the largest gifts to support study abroad endowments are the following:

Elon trustee Mark Mahaffey and his wife, Marianne, of St. Petersburg, Fla., have made a gift to the university to endow scholarships for international study and service. The couple were impressed by the effect that study abroad had on their chil¬dren, Tom ’97 and Kiley ’01, and wanted to make those opportunities available to future Elon students.

Each year, a group of Mahaffey Scholars will receive support to combine international study with service.

“With my children’s experience at Elon, I saw firsthand what kind of influence that had on their character and their education,” Mark Mahaffey says. “The future is going to be a global experience, so any kind of international experience a student can have in their college years is invalu¬able. My goal, and the goal of the board of trustees, is to try to provide that experi¬ence for all students.”

Mahaffey says the service component of the scholarship is critical. “If you can travel abroad and see the way the world is, you will have more appreciation for what you have, but also of the good that you can do,” he says. “My dream for this scholarship is that it will make those students aware of why we are here, which is to challenge ourselves to do good for the community as a whole.”

The Mahaffeys are former members of the Parents Council. Mark Mahaffey has been a trustee since 2001 and currently serves as vice-chair of the board and chair of the upcoming campaign.

In an effort to promote global awareness and a commitment to service, Elon parents Carole and Douglas Bruns have made a $250,000 gift to endow a program that will support international service learning experiences.

The Carole and Douglas Bruns Endowment for International Service Learning will fund scholarships to enable Elon students to spend a semester or summer abroad while participating in an internship and/or working with a non-governmental or non-religious organization. Once fully endowed, the program will enable six students to serve abroad each year.

Students will work with their professors to identify an appropriate service experience and non-governmental organization to serve. Students will also write a paper, explaining how the experience enhances their Elon education, as well as determine how they plan to use their international experience once they return to Elon and build a foundation for service in the future.

The Bruns family has traveled the world extensively and understands the importance of educating globally aware citizens. Carole and Douglas Bruns made their gift to encourage in students a commitment to international service and making a difference in the world.

Carole Bruns is president and CEO of Atlantic Corporate Interiors (ACI) in Beltsville, Md., while Douglas owns his own travel and fine art photography studio. The Columbia, Md., couple are the parents of Allison Bruns ’06, who participated in Elon’s study abroad program, including a service learning experience in Tibet.

A $150,000 gift from Parents Council members Bob and Kally Badavas of Needham, Mass., will enable additional students to study in Central or South America each year. The Badavas Family Fund for Central and South American Study Abroad and Understanding will assist students with financial need who could not otherwise afford to study abroad.

The Badavas Family Fund will support students participating in Elon’s semester-long program in Costa Rica or another program in Central or South America. As part of their gift, the couple will make annual contributions of $5,000 to ensure that funds are awarded to students immediately.

The couple say their daughter Stephanie’s experience studying in Spain and Guatemala was “life-changing.” Stephanie is a junior majoring in human services.

“We know Elon is known for its innovative programs, and study abroad is a big part of that,” Kally Badavas says.

“Learning begins when you get outside your natural boundaries,” Bob Badavas says. “You can’t understand the world from inside America. You need to travel to different cultures. It opens your mind. Yet study abroad is expensive, and students need support.”

Bob Badavas is president and CEO of Tac Worldwide, and Kally is an active community volunteer. The couple have been members of the Parents Council since 2006 and will serve as co-presidents for 2008-2009.