Two New Study Abroad Scholarships Awarded
Sept. 17, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— The Betty Ritchie-Birrer Endowed Study Abroad Fund has provided
the money for two new IWU Study Abroad Scholarships. Jessica Beringer, Class of 2015,
and Taylor Sharp, Class of 2015, were chosen to be the new scholarship recipients
by the Study Abroad Advisory Committee. The Study Abroad Fund is one of three endowed
gifts that Ritchie-Birrer has established for IWU students this year.
Ritchie-Birrer was a member of Illinois Wesleyan University’s Class of 1947. More
than 70 years later she is still thankful for the impact the University has had on
This fund will allow more students the opportunity to travel and study in other countries,
an experience valued by both Ritchie-Birrer and her husband Ivan.
Beringer, from Frankfort, Ill., is a Spanish and secondary education double major,
who will spend the fall 2013 semester in Seville, Spain, with the Council on International
Education Exchange (CIEE) Teacher Development Program. Beringer selected the CIEE
program for her study abroad experience because it promises to incorporate both of
While in Spain, she will take courses in Professional Teacher Development, Psychology
of Learning a Second Language, The Cultural History of Spain, Contemporary Spanish
Film, and Spanish Culture and Cuisine, all taught in Spanish. In her scholarship application
Beringer wrote, “I hope to be able to take full advantage of everything this program
has to offer. I will be in charge of a small group of students, and I will be responsible
for tutoring them in English over the course of the semester.”
Sharp, from Apple Valley, Minn., is a political science and international studies
double major with a concentration in Asian studies. She will spend the entire 2013-14
academic school year at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan.
In her application for the scholarship, Sharp expressed her goal is to have a career
interacting with Japanese companies and individuals. She wrote, “Studying abroad for
one semester would have been easier and less stressful, but with a culture so complex
I would not gain the insight I need in such a short period of time.”
While in Keio, Sharp will study the Japanese language and take courses in Japanese
Perception of the Atomic Bombing, Japanese Politics in Comparative Perspective, Japan-America
Shared Histories, Deep Cultural Difference: Understanding Japan Through Cross-Cultural
Comparison, and Japanese Cinema.
As a condition of the IWU Study Abroad Scholarship the students have committed to
documenting and sharing their experiences. Both Beringer and Sharp plan to blog while
abroad about their new friends, classes, sight seeing and the challenges of life in
a new culture.
You can follow Beringer through Spain at http://jessicaleeberinger.blogspot.com/, and experience Sharp’s Japanese adventure at http://tmjsharp.blogspot.com/.
The deadline for the spring semester study abroad awards is set for October 1. For
more information see https://www.iwu.edu/studyabroad/applying/Scholarships.html#IWUSA
Contact: Kinzie Schweigert ’15, (309) 556-3181, email@example.com