September 20, 2022

CHaSS Fund Will Support Experiences Outside the Classroom
USU student Gracie Wilkinson stands atop Sliabh Liag during a study abroad trip to Ireland this summer

USU Anthropology student Gracie Wilkinson stands atop Sliabh Liag during a study abroad trip to Ireland this summer.

By Andrea DeHaan, CHaSS Communications Editor

The USU College of Humanities and Social Sciences has created a new fund to help students take advantage of learning outside of the classroom.

The CHaSS Experiential Learning Fund will allow students to apply for support to offset the cost of hands-on learning opportunities including internships and study abroad. 

“This funding initiative is exciting as it will help to provide more students with impactful experiential learning experiences, both domestically and abroad. These kinds of educational activities help to make stronger connections between what students learn in the classroom and what happens in real-world environments,” Joshua Thoms, associate professor for applied linguistics and Spanish, explained.

Many consider experiential learning essential to a well-rounded college experience. President Noelle Cockett listed it at the top of her presidential priorities.  

“It is important to understand the world from a distance, but it can’t stop there. Experiential learning trips like study abroad bring the concepts and ideas from the classroom to life right in front of your eyes,” Jason Gilmore, associate professor of global communication, added. “They challenge you in new and amazing ways. They change your life. Students attest to this time and again.”

Spanish major Tenaya Madsen, who recently participated in a trip to Spain with Associate Professor Felipe Valencia, agreed. “I was able to experience firsthand what I had been learning about for so long. Reading about cultural differences and participating in them are two completely different experiences. I have a much deeper understanding and appreciation for Spanish culture…after my study abroad.”

CHaSS students will soon be eligible to receive assistance to help cover the added costs that often come with experiential learning, as these prevent some students from participating. While some expenses are obvious — paying for an international flight or housing for an internship in another part of the state or country — others are less visible but no less important. These include helping to pay for gas to travel to an internship provider several days a week or affording a babysitter to participate in field trips taking place outside of class hours.

This new initiative will allow CHaSS students to apply for funding to support internships and study abroad taking place in summer 2023 and beyond. The college is currently raising money to support the Experiential Learning Fund. Those wishing to lend their support to current students can do so by selecting CHaSS during USU’s A Day of Giving campaign on Oct. 6.

Recent USU graduate Olivia Hoge said she supports the new fund for current students and hopes others will as well. “My internships changed my life. They gave me valuable connections and the tools I need for my career. Without these experiences, I know I would not be where I am today.” 

 

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