Vince Alexander

Miami University students in need of scholarships to study abroad can look to the southwest district of Ohio’s Rotary Clubs and the Oxford Rotary Club for assistance.

This year the southwest district of Ohio Rotary Clubs will award up to $23,000 to a college student for one-year of study abroad expenses during the 2009 academic year, said Jim Haley, the Oxford Rotary Club chairperson for the ambassadorial scholarship committee.

“The Oxford Rotary Club is a service club that provides community service support, and activities to the Oxford community and surrounding areas,” Haley said.

According to Haley, the Oxford Rotary Club, which has around 75 members from local businesses and community leaders, supports different community groups such as the Talawanda Local School District and the Talawanda Resource Center. The club often supports the community through its Hefner Fund, which local organizations can apply for, and it also holds annual fund raising events, such as its golf outing that takes place in the spring.

The Rotary Foundation’s Ambassadorial Scholarship will be awarded to one student from the southwest district of Ohio, according to Haley. The Oxford Rotary Club will choose up to two people to compete for the annual scholarship. The applicants must either be a Miami University student who has completed his or her sophomore year by June 2009 or a college student with Oxford residency.

“Each year many scholarships are available through Rotary Clubs internationally,” Haley said. “Applicants go through a very competitive process before they are awarded with scholarships.”

According to Haley, candidates must fill out an application and must be submitted by March 1 to the Oxford Rotary Club. Applicants will then go through a local interview process.

Students chosen after local club interviews will be interviewed again in April by the district committee, comprised of 55 different Rotary Clubs located in the southwest district of Ohio.

According to Haley one to two scholarships, controlled by the district’s headquarters, will be awarded this year.

“If a student has an interest in studying abroad this is a good way to get expenses covered,” Haley said. “Any opportunity to expand horizons prepares you for the world.”

According to Haley, the Rotary Club is looking for someone who will be an ambassador for the United States and for the Rotary Club.

“This scholarship is focused on people building international relationships and learning about the world,” Haley said. “We hope that the recipient will take away a positive experience and a greater understanding of how people are all different but very much the same.”

According to Haley, previous Miami students have been awarded scholarships to study places such as Venezuela, Spain and Costa Rica.

Last year’s Ambassadorial Scholarship winner was Miami senior Shelly Ann Alpeter.

“I studied abroad in Chile as a Rotary International exchange student in 2003-04 after graduating high school and before entering Miami University,” Alpeter said. “That was my first introduction to Rotary scholarships.”

According to Haley, Alpeter learned about scholarship opportunities by attending the scholarship symposium at Miami and talking to David Keitges, the director of international education at Miami.

To apply for the Rotary scholarship, Haley said Alpeter had to fill out an application, write essays in both English and Spanish and supply two to three letters of reference.

Then she had to interview at the club level, followed by an intense interview at the district level. Haley was awarded the scholarship the same day as the district interview.

Next year Alpeter will study in Granada, Spain to earn her masters degree in translation and interpretation.

“We are looking forward to having some real quality applicants this year,” Haley said.