Karen Gaske

Application materials for the Oxford Rotary Club’s Ambassadorial Scholarship, which will be used for students to study abroad during the 2010-2011 school year, are now available.

According to Jim Haley, chairperson of the Oxford Rotary Club’s Ambassadorial Scholarship Committee, the annual scholarship is awarded by the Rotary Foundation, the charitable arm of the International Rotary Club. It has a value of up to $25,000.

“The foundation provides funding to each Rotary district,” Haley said. “The decision for this district is to spend the money on the Ambassadorial Scholarship.”

Haley said the scholarship has had great success since its inception in 1947.

Shelly Alpeter, a recent Miami University graduate and 2006 winner of the Ambassadorial Scholarship, began studying for her master’s degree in September at the University of Granada, Spain. Alpeter was chosen to receive the scholarship from students throughout southwestern Ohio, the Rotary district that Oxford falls under.

According to Haley, the scholarship is available to any student residing in the district, but they must first be nominated by their local chapter before going on to compete for the scholarship at a district level.

“There are about 1,100 scholarships awarded worldwide, but only one for southwest Ohio,” Haley said.

A press release from Oxford’s Rotary Club said there are 55 Rotary clubs in southwest Ohio.

According to Haley, the scholarship is intended to give students the opportunity to study abroad and gain international experience.

“We want people to be good ambassadors for us, wherever they go in the world,” Haley said.

Alpeter, who is currently studying abroad in Spain, agreed with this objective.

“As Ambassadorial Scholars, we are sent all over the world to be daily ambassadors or daily examples of our home countries and cultures,” Alpeter said via e-mail. “We’re meant to spread goodwill and understanding, building respect between peoples, opening our minds and opening the minds of others.”

Haley said it is not required to use the scholarship for study used to earn a degree.

“Some students use the scholarship the year after they graduate,” Haley said. “The only requirement is that the student needs to have completed their sophomore year.”

Students must have completed two years worth of credit at a university or college by June 2010, according to a press release from Oxford’s Rotary Club.

He also said there is only one application to fill out in order to be considered, which can be downloaded online.

“Oxford nominates our candidate and in April the district holds a lunch and interview to make the final decision,” Haley said. “The winner will have to fill out paperwork because the Rotary International matches up students with their school of choice.”

Alpeter also recalled her experiences with the application process.

“It’s two full years between the first application and actually studying abroad,” Alpeter said. “The initial application includes three essays in English and translated into the native language of wherever you want to study. You need two or three letters of reference and a language teacher’s assessment of your language ability.”

Despite the lengthy application process, Alpeter said she recommends that other students apply for the scholarship as well.

“Financially speaking, it has allowed me to study abroad one more time before finding a job in the ‘real world,’ ” Alpeter said. “Beyond that, Rotary is a great network of professionals all over the world.”

Applications for the upcoming scholarship are due by March 1, 2009.

For more information, contact Jim Haley at 523-6689. To download an application, visit www.rotary.org. Applications should be sent to 191 Stone Creek Drive, Oxford, Ohio 45056. Oxford interviews will be conducted in March, with district interviews in April.